Back in December of 2012, Filabot began with the idea of making a machine that could recycle plastic into filament for 3D printers. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, and during the last three years, the company has gone from a solo operation to hiring three full-time employees and two part-time employees.
The company and the product was conceived by Tyler McNaney, a former student at Vermont Technical College who studied Mechanical Engineering.
Filabot says they see plastic as a potent resource which is not being utilized to its fullest, and they add that their goal is nothing less than “to change how the world uses plastic.”
The company now distributes and makes filament with recycled plastics via their filament extruder systems which are designed from scratch and assembled by their technicians at their dedicated factory in Vermont before being thoroughly tested and heading out the door.
The company says they’ve shipped systems all over the world to customers ranging from industrial business and research facilities to home builders.
Now Filabot says they’re in the process of teaming up with a popular maker of gourmet ice cream, Ben and Jerry’s, to “up-cycle” their used spoons into pellets and filament. They call it ‘Every Spoon Matters,’ and they say it’s another step they’re making towards responsible use of plastic waste, a desire the company shares with Ben and Jerry’s.
McNaney also says the company wants to make sure that failed prints don’t go to waste either.
“3D printing is awesome, except for the failed prints,” says McNaney. “Those failed prints are awful to see, but are even worse to have sitting in a pile. Such a waste of material. Recycling centers don’t even accept those failed prints, as there is no labeling on them. But we are putting an end to all that. We now offer two ways to recycle your failed prints. With both these options, no longer is there worry about the environmental impact of discarded prints.”
McNaney says the plan is to gather spoons at selected locations in fiber drums his company will provide, then wash the spoons, grind the spoons into pellets with their Filabot Reclaimer, dry the pellets in a special dryer, and finally extrude some of the pellets into filament. He says the filament and pellets will be available to customers once the first batch of spoons has been processed.
“We’re hoping to get the barrel in at the Church street location next week,” says Toby Wasserman of Filabot. “Hopefully very soon.”
Devices like the company’s Filabot Wee are aimed at providing an industrial-sized extruder for the bench top, and McNaney says it’s ideal for a maker space, fab lab, or DIY studio. The Filabot Wee can use plastic pellets to create 3D printable filament, and it and the company’s other extruders can make ABS or PL. The Filabot Wee can make both 1.75mm and 3mm diameter filament at a rate of 5 inches per minute to 20 inches per minute depending on the type of plastic being extruded.
What do you think of this idea between Filabot and gourmet ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s? Can you think of any other ways technology and 3D printing are used to lessen the environmental impact of technology? Let us know in the Filabot and Ben and Jerry’s forum thread on 3DPB.com.