We had anticipated it a few months ago, but, now, the 100% fully recycled filament from B-Pet is a commercially available reality and the Argentinian startup behind it does not intend to stop there. This means that the full injection-molded-transparent-plastic-bottle to 3D-printed-transparent-plastic-bottle-cycle is now a real opportunity for the 3D printing industry as a whole, with many more interesting initiatives to come along soon, including many related to SLS technology.
PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate) is one of the most widely used thermoplastics there is. It is used to make plastic drink bottles as well as many other products (including fabrics) and for packaging purposes, because of its vapour barrier and strength properties. It is a fairly stiff and very lightweight material, which makes it very strong and impact-resistant. It is also stable, non-toxic and, in its original state, colorless and crystal clear.
Although first-use PET (the waste from cut PET sheets) can already be used to extrude filament, it is not easy to recycle second-use PET, since it tends to absorb the materials it comes in contact with (drinks or food), thus altering its properties and appearance. Through research and development, B-PET has improved the process of waste recycling for use in 3D printing. The company’s recycled PET has the same properties as virgin PET but costs up to 70% less. It even offers improved characteristics including special features like flexible strength and easy adhesion. When extruded to produce filament it has a consistent diameter and does not form bubbles.
B-Pet has big plans for its PET recycling capabilities. The filament is already available in transparent, white, black and blue (currently out of stock) colors, selling for $30.00 a spool. According to the current roadmap, B-PET will launch a recycled PET-based powder for laser sintering processes in 2015 and has even made plans to launch their own SLS 3D printer by 2016. Then the P2P (PET to PET) cycle can truly be complete.