Let’s all face it. Planet Earth has been suffering for centuries from the wrath of mankind. We pollute this planet in more ways than one, and many of us do so without thinking twice about our actions. Humans are wasteful by nature, and it is this waste which ultimately is damaging the environment, causing global warning, and leading to oceans full of wasted plastic.
Over the past couple of years, several companies and individuals have come up with ways of repurposing plastic material through the use of 3D printing technology. The idea is simple; you take used plastic products, melt them down, and then turn this materials into filament for 3D printing. The process is much easier said than done though, and there are still many obstacles standing in our way. The largest obstacle is the mere fact that most waste plastics are not all that easy to 3D print with, and many of them cause toxic fumes in the process. With this said, however, there has been some progress, but the process has been limited to just plastics.
This could all be about to change though, if one man named Frederick Janson gets his way. Janson, who has been contacted by ABC’s Shark Tank to participate in the show’s competition for a water purification device which he has invented, has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a 3D printer that could potentially change the world.
“In short, last year I 3D-printed a solution to solve the fresh water crisis on Earth, which I had to cancel when faced with the outrageous mark up on 3D printing filament, requiring me to shelve this global solution, and to invent a 3D printer that could repurpose meltable garbage, your home and office recyclables, to create “free” building materials for the 3D printing industry,” Janson tells 3DPrint.com. “Once this campaign is funded, I will be able 3D print the fresh water solution, AND, we have applied this technology to help solve 27 other world issues.”
The AlphaPura, as it is called, is a 3D printer that aims to conquer the world’s increasing amount of garbage. That’s right, if everything goes as planned, Janson would like to create a 3D printer that can take waste materials such as metal, concrete, glass, plastics, pottery, ceramics, rocks, and other meltable waste and turn it into 3D printed products.
“The world needs a game changer,” Janson explains. “AlphaPura is that game changer.”
The idea is to raise funding through this current Kickstarter campaign, asking backers to pledge anywhere from $1 and up. The funding goal of $10,000 by September 5th looks to help in the creation of a working prototype. If enough funding is raised, Janson would like to create four different models of his unique 3D printer: A personal size (2′ x 2′ x 3′), a family size (3′ x 3′ x 6′), community size (12′ x 12′ x 12′) and industrial size (36′ x 36′ x 36′).
“If we are successfully funded at the bare minimum level, we will build the personal-sized AlphaPura prototype, and depending on how much more we are funded, we will develop the other three sizes, to be able to eventually make these four sizes available for sale in North America, and/or anywhere else in the world we are allowed to ship this product by our government,” Janson writes.
Janson has already created a non-working prototype using an EV3 Robotics Set made by Lego. The way in which he says the AlphaPura will work is through the use of a high-powered laser that can melt all of these materials into printable feedstock. The laser is used to “superheat” any meltable waste into its molten state before repurposing it into a new 3D printed object or mold.
The laser that the AlphaPura will be equipped with will be capable not only of melting material but also of cutting, etching, welding and soldering. The printer will come in a-la-carte and customized ‘build-your-own’ versions in the future, as well as a ‘swing-in’ robotic arm that can be used to add on toolheads such as miniature power tools.
Because the AlphaPura would be using extreme heat, in order to melt various materials, it will need to be built out of very heat tolerable materials. Janson plans on using tungsten, as it as been proven to stand up to temperatures of over 6,000 degrees F, which is hotter than the melting point of most metals, plastics and glass.
While the idea sounds like a tremendous one, many experts will surely say that this cannot be done with today’s technology. As a reporter and journalist for the 3D printing industry, I too am a bit pessimistic about the feasibility of this project. However, if Janson is able to pull this off, not only will he go down in history as one of the more influential inventors of his time, but he would single-handed solve many of the world’s most pressing problems.
What do you think about the feasibility and potential that this AlphaPura 3D printer has? Is it even possible? Discuss in the AlphaPura forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below.