While ‘additive’ manufacturing is often looked at as being environmentally friendly when compared its ‘subtractive’ manufacturing counterpart, since there is little to no byproduct produced during the fabrication of an object, there’s still a bit of a problem. Yes additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is friendly to our environment from an industrial manufacturing point of view, but with hundreds of thousands of desktop 3D printers now being sold annually, we are creating a new environmental worry. You see, there are now hundreds of thousands of hobbyists around the world printing little trinkets and doo-dads out in their garages and basements, many out of thermoplastics like ABS and PLA. A large amount of these objects are ultimately thrown into the garbage, only adding to the overwhelming number of plastic products floating in our oceans and residing in our landfills for the next 100-1000 years.
With all this said, there are companies trying to overcome this problem before it possibly gets out of hand. One such company is a startup based out of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, called Refil. Refil, which was founded by Rotterdam based design agency Better Future Factory, a multi-disciplinary design, environmental and engineering company, has just announced a brand new 3D printer filament called Refilament. This new printable material is made from the plastic found within vehicle dashboards and door panels as well as PET plastic bottles.
“Using our Refilament, instead of ordinary filament, instantly makes everything you print recycled. From vases, toys and jewelry to architectural models, prosthetics and other products… They all become recycled products when you print them with Refilament.” Casper van der Meer, co-founder Refil explained.
The way this filament is produced is rather straightforward. The company first collects any parts from the inside of vehicles which are made with ABS plastics. This mainly includes dashboards and door panels. They also collect PET bottles such as water bottles, jugs, and other items, and clean all the plastic before sending it off to a shredder. These shredded flakes are then cleaned and filtered from all contaminants before being melted and extruded as both 1.75mm and 2.85mm filament.
“At Refil, we don’t add any toxic dyes to our products and this has been our biggest challenge, explained Refil’s lead product researcher Laura Klauss. “After lots of research, we can finally develop refilaments that have the exact same quality as ordinary filaments, without adding any toxics.”
Currently there are only two different filaments available under the Refilament brand. These include Dashboard Black and PET Translucent. The Dashboard Black is 100% recycled and made with only the ABS plastics found within the interior of cars, namely the dashboards. Just in case you were wondering, the majority of these cars are Volvos and Audis. The PET Translucent material, on the other hand, is made 90% from recycled PET bottles, and Refil believes they are the only company in the world who’s making filament this way.
As for pricing, the company is very competitive with other filament manufacturers on the market. The DashBoard Black will run you 32 euros (about $35.75) per 750g spool, while the PET Translucent is slightly more expensive at 40 euros (about $44.75) per 750g spool.
Let us know if you’ve purchased and used any of this new Refilament. Discuss in the Refilament forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the company’s promo video below: