There is nothing I dislike more than to be wasteful, but I must admit that I hate it so much when a bar of soap becomes so thin that it breaks in half, that I usually end up throwing it in the trash. My wife tells me that it’s normal and that everyone does it, but there has to be a better way to put these seemingly worthless pieces of soap to good use.
Well now, thanks to a new 3D printer called the Soap01™ from Wittystore, there may be.
“Soap01 by Wittystore, is an affordable desktop 3D printer, able to recycle old soap or use soap bars as cartridges,” Emanuele Mulas, Managing Director for the Ireland-based Wittystore, tells 3DPrint.com. “The principle at the base of our project is simple: ‘Recycle soap and transform it in something more than a soap, let’s say Art’.”
We all probably know someone who has attempted to make soap themselves over the years. In fact, my wife actually went out and purchased a rather pricey soapmaking kit a few years ago, only to use it once and then realize that it was way too messy and time-consuming to bother with again. That’s where the Soap01 comes into play. You simply feed it bars of soap, including those worthless thin bars that I hate, and it then prints new bars out in the color and shape you choose. Much like a traditional FDM/FFF 3D printer, the Soap01 uses a similar type of technology.
“This concept is not new,” Mulas tells us. “People already do it at home for fun in two ways: melting and reforming soap scraps and making soap carving. In the soap industry, this idea is not new either and at a production scale we can find machineries called soap plodders, able to extrude long soap bars. Soap01 aim is to unify what said above in a small machine able to blend, melt, colour, extrude and deposit the soap in order to built a perfumed 3D model for your bath.”
For the first prototype, Wittystore has designed a machine that uses open source software, combined with a gantry style hardware setup. The melted soap is extruded out of a nozzle which can move on the X and Y axes. The nozzle on the printer controls the soap’s temperature and deposits the soap on the bed, which moves in the Z-axis in order to built objects up one layer at a time. As the material is extruded the printer also has a way of hardening the soap once it hits the bed.
The top portion of the printer acts as a soap blender and melter, in order to prepare the feedstock (bars of soap) for printing. A second prototype for this machine incorporates a subtractive process combined with an extrusion-based 3D printing process.
“Using the subtractive process, a semisolid thin layer of soap approx. 12cm x 12cm is first extruded and a mobile cutter traces the model shape,” explained Mulas. “[Leftover] soap can be recycled again.”
In order to fund the production of these 3D printers, Mulas plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign sometime this month, with the release of the printer scheduled for December of 2016. As for pricing, Mulas plans to make the printer available for €2,500 to Kickstarter backers, but there will be a very limited quantity (as few as 5) made available.
What do you think about this unique idea? Would you like to recycle your old soap by 3D printing your own unique bars? Discuss in the Soap01 Forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of the printer below.