As more and more people begin purchasing and using desktop 3D printers, the more filament is being consumed. While, much of this filament, specifically PLA, is considered to be environmentally friendly, the reality is that even PLA takes quite some time to breakdown in our landfills. While 3D printing is expected to create a lot less waste material than more traditional manufacturing techniques, as well as subtractive manufacturing methods, no one knows for sure if the technology will ultimately be friendlier to our environment. There are a lot of people wasting a lot of filament on prints-gone-bad. At the same time, even when individuals create prototypes, or little trinkets for their bedroom dressers, these objects also eventually end up in the trash. Additionally, for every 1kg of filament used, there is another empty filament spool thrown into the trash.
One Fargo, North Dakota company, called 3Dom USA, realizes this, and today has announced the release of a 100% bio-based 3D printer filament spool, called the Eco-Spool. These spools will be filled with a filament made from sustainably produced NatureWorks Ingeo PLA.
“With 3Dom USA, we wanted to create something that allows 3D printing to move forward by creating a more sustainable product, but to make sure to remain uncompromising in our filament quality,” explained co-founder of 3Dom USA, John Schneider. “With the Eco-SpoolTM and IngeoTM PLA, I believe that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
The Eco-spools themselves are made up of materials which will breakdown in landfills over a much shorter time-frame compared to the plastics which the majority of spools today are created from. With more and more spools being thrown in the garbage as more and more companies and individuals begin utilizing 3D printing, this is a step which 3Dom USA saw as something that needed to be done.
“The Eco-Spool™ by 3Dom USA is a first-of-its-kind spool designed specifically for environmental sustainability,” explained Schneider. “As more businesses, schools, and individuals are 3D printing an increasing amount of empty filament spools will be filling up the planet.”
Schneider is also the co-founder of Fargo 3D Printing, a company that resells various 3D printer hardware, including 3D printers from Lulzbot, MakerBot and 3D Systems. We frequently see them walking about and exhibiting at various 3D printing shows here in the United States.
The Ingeo filament which will be spun around these spools, packaged and sold to customers, is made up of a renewable plant resource which is produced using simple sugars through photosynthesis. These sugars are converted into lactic acid, which is a chemical compound found in the human body and in the foods we eat. The lactic acid is then processed into this Ingeo filament, which can easily be extruded from FDM/FFF based 3D printers.
The Ingeo PLA is made to very tight tolerances of +/-0.05mm, and comes in both 1.75 and 2.85mm diameters. It should be interesting to see just how well these new bio-based spools containing this environmental friendly filament sells for. Undoubtedly it will go a long way in helping keep our environment clean.