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The world of progress, technology, and being as green as possible are all becoming much more entwined these days. Although it’s not always easy to see—or facilitate–from a provincial standpoint,one as a worldwide whole the making community is concerned about the footprint we leave behind, and making a concerted effort to leave less waste in the trash. If plastic waste can go right back into the 3D printer, why not?

While 3D printing certainly took off with a bang over the past few years with greater accessibility and affordability, there was a bit of a delayed buzzkill and larger surprise that came when we looked down and saw all the trashed filament at our feet. Oh. No.

The bubble of euphoria deflated a bit as some issues regarding 3D printing and environmental issues have darkened the doorstep, but it hasn’t been burst by any means. The making community is certainly filled with a wide range of very smart people who generally enjoy sharing new ideas and solutions. Thus, materials are becoming more green, home extruders are appearing all over the scene allowing us to grind up all varieties of plastics, and 3D printers constantly offer more versatility. We are thinking up all kinds of ways to grind up plastic and use 3D printing waste for even further creative ventures.

5152490_origWhat about the larger picture though, and boy oh boy, is there a larger picture: Just consider all the unused electronics and computer systems. While it might be one thing to get rid of a small device or a laptop, think about the enormous old computers that have become obsolete over the decades, turning into nothing more than weighty hunks of junk. I’m reminded of a picture from Hurricane Katrina, showing an old amusement park with a room full of old and ruined computers—the kind that used to take up a third of your desk.

Where does all this go? Just ask the team at the Tinkers Store. They’ve been recycling electronics and old computers for 17 years, and now that it’s on our minds, what a relief that someone is providing this service. The great news is that their services can also help you feed both your home extruder and 3D printer, meaning lots more fun ahead for all those old computer parts we once thought no one would have any use for again. Rather than envisioning them overflowing in dumpsters somewhere, you can envision them ground up and living new lives, providing great service as they are molded into prototypes, figures, and all your 3D printing needs.

2981212_origSo while recycling your own filament is one issue, there’s also the issue of needing materials. How about loading some recycled computer pellets into your home extruder and using it to 3D print your heart out? When in need of materials, the Tinkers Store sells them to you for $4.99 per pound, plus shipping. Made mainly from items like old computers and corresponding plastic, they are producing high-quality recycled plastic that can be used as 3D printing filament, due to the following process:

  1. Equipment goes down a ‘tear-down’ line, removing extraneous material like metal, paper, and more.
  2. Materials are organized and coded by type and then color.
  3. The plastic is ground to ¼ inch, which should be just right for your home extruder. The Tinkers Store has more colors coming soon but is currently just selling ABS in gray, also known as 495F High Impact Polystyrene.

(Mother Nature approves.)

Are these recycled materials something you’d like to give a try for your home extruder? Discuss in the Recycled Computer Parts for 3D Printing Filaments forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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