Most of us try to do our part with everyday recycling, separating the milk jugs from the wine bottles, the Saturday morning cereal and that dinner party now a memory, as we put our used and often bulky, clunky materials out to the curb once or twice a week along with the stray newspaper here and there. For many, it’s become just that simple. You have a blue plastic bin, you do your part, and voilà, you are one of many saving the planet.
But what if you have a 3D printing workshop going on at the home or office? You are doing your part to save the planet through mastering a new technology that will foster not only yours, but the greatest innovations of the future. Unfortunately, waste comes along with the territory, and most makers are an eco-friendly lot, not planning on employing tools that leave piles of waste behind.
We’ve seen many re-use materials for their next projects, saving, grinding, and extruding ‘new’ filament to their heart’s content, and we’ve seen others simply doing their part by using other old materials and scraps to make 3D printers, 3D printed objects, and more. Larger companies like Stratasys have started recycling programs themselves as well, inviting all to get involved in free and easy programs.
Companies like Studio Ilio, however, have quite simply created an art out of recycling–and this time for recycling nylon powder used in the SLS 3D printing process. Their project is called Hot Wire Extensions. Centered around using wires embedded in waste from 3D printing, they’ve used very little new material to create some pieces that are functional and not considered disposables.
Seonghil Choi and Fabio Hendry are a talented, thoughtfully resourceful graduate team from London’s Royal College of Art who decided to take on a unique project that makes a great statement about making art and reusing.
“Whenever you print an object [using SLS], half of the volume of the material turns into waste and there are not viable techniques on the market to recycle this material,” said Hendry.
The wires are constructed of nichrome which is basically embedded in the 3D printing waste, as well as being surrounded by silica sand. In quite an incredible process, they then use an electric current of 10 to 120 volts, and super high temps of up to 500 degrees Celsius which bond the sand and silica, along with the wires, together into a solid. The longer the battery and current flow–the wider in dimension the material grows and solidifies.
“You do a sketch with the wire and then transform it into a strong structure – growing the material around the sketch,” said Hendry. “[The final shape] depends on how close the wires are together and on how you construct it.”
They’ve created 12 pieces in all, comprising a collection of stools which show off their talents and versatility in using a variety of structures within each one. Lattices and different geometries allow for each piece to be markedly different after months of planning and re-working for the collection. Not just limited to stools and small tables though, they have also created ornamental and cylindrical objects with their unique process.
“We believe that originality in function and aesthetic derives from an original process,” the artists state on their website, and there’s no arguing that they have proved this.
Each piece takes only about a half an hour to create, and considering the amount of refuse they are putting back into the world in functioning form, we hope they not only keep adding to their collection, but teach others how to use the process as well.
“For the project we got over a ton of waste materials just for free and there’s lots more available,” said Hendry. “It’s quite interesting to show the possibilities of how to use this waste.”
Discuss your thoughts on these designs, as well as how 3D printing waste materials can best be re-used in the Studio Ilio Reuses 3D Printing Materials forum thread over at 3DPB.com.