Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printz Partners with Fishy Filaments to Distribute Recycled Nylon 3D Printing Filament

ST Medical Devices

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There are plenty of unique, and even strange, materials out there that innovative people have figured out how to 3D print with, from a wide variety of food products like chocolate, meat and fake meat, sugar, salt, pancake batter, and even grapes, to nearly every metal imaginable, such as aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, copper, cobalt chromium, and gold. Obviously, we 3D print with a lot of plastic materials, and plenty of biomaterials, and people are 3D printing materials like ceramics, glass, diamonds, fabric, and even cannabis!

Cornwall-based startup Fishy Filaments provides another interesting 3D printing material: it turns recycled nylon fishing nets into engineering-grade filament in an effort to save marine life .

“Fishy Filaments’ recycled nylon (otherwise known as PA6) is unusual, possibly unique, in the world of 3D printing filaments. We can track the polymers we reclaim all the way from their original sources, mostly in Japan, through the global fishing net supply chain, the commercial fishery and ultimately to our doorstep,” the website states.

“This is possible is because the nylon used by commercial fisheries is made to very high standards in order to meet the demands of an extremely tough industry.”

By the time Fishy Filaments receives the nets from its independent third party labs, they’ve been used by Cornish fishers for several months already, but that’s all, since the net surfaces become cloudy and stop catching fish. The nylon from these nets is a little salty, and sometimes even has bits of seaweed clinging to it, but the business says “the underlying high quality polymer is still there.” They aim to keep it that way as well, by not over-processing the material and wrecking its value by adding chemical modifiers.

Since officially releasing its recycled fishing net filament onto the market last year, the Cornish startup says that artists, hobbyists, professional product designers, and even heavy industries have put the material to good use.

“We are already getting enquiries from all over the world despite not having a huge marketing budget, but we only want to hook up with companies which share our values,” explained Fishy Filaments Director Ian Falconer.

“All our polymer blends are 100% recycled. We add no pigments or other modifiers. Instead we work with the nets we receive from fishing fleets, grade them according to colour and wear, and process them separately in order to maximise their potential.

“We then combine the grades to provide customers with a consistent blend that they can add their own uniqueness and value to, through 3D printing.

“If we didn’t take these nets and re-process them into filament, the majority of them would be sent to landfill.”

Another UK company that clearly shares the startup’s values is Telford-based 3D Printz Limited, headquartered in the county of Shropshire, which borders Wales to the west. The two recently signed an eco-friendly distribution deal, which will benefit 3D Printz by helping to grow its 3D printing product range.

“We’re delighted with this partnership,” said 3D Printz Director Peter Roberts. “All business sectors should be doing what they can to help the environment, so we are very pleased to be able to add Fishy Filaments to our growing range.”

Porthcurno

3D printing has the potential to be a more sustainable method of manufacturing, and this factor is often discussed in the industry. There’s less energy usage and wasted material, more sustainable material options, and often reduced shipping needs as well. So a partnership between a 3D printing specialist and supplier like 3D Printz and Fishy Filaments, which is centered on sustainability, is pretty advantageous for both.

You can purchase Fishy Filaments’ premium Porthcurno blend, on 750 g spools, for £59.99 (including VAT) on the sales portal of the 3D Printz website. Named after a spectacular beach in the UK, according to the startup, Porthcurno is good for use in applications where flexibility and translucency are needed, and its light blue-green color means it will take many off-the-shelf dyes pretty well.  3D Printz offers free delivery on orders over £50.

Ian Falconer with the recycled nylon fishing nets into engineering grade filament.

(Source: Shropshire Live / Images: Fishy Filaments)

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