3D Printing

India's ProtoPrint Makes Fair Trade Recycled 3D Printer Filament

Though 3D printing boasts the ability to save material by building objects up layer by layer, instead of cutting them out of solid blocks, numerous participants in the 3D printing industry have noted the abundant waste of plastic involved in the technology.  From heaps of failed prints to the production of the printer filament itself, 3D printing is currently a fairly unsustainable practice.  The technology is still young, however, and there are opportunities for companies like Protoprint of India to step in and reroute the industry to use sustainable materials early on.

Since 2012, Protoprint has been working to develop a fair trade model for ethical 3D printer filament.  In India, there are already an abundance of people who sort through garbage to pick out plastic, which can earn them a very small amount of money.  By partnering with SWaCH, a waste pickers collective in Pune, India, the company has been producing HDPE filament for 3D printing.  Protoprint teaches waste pickers how to scan, sterilize, and convert plastic waste into 3D printer filament, by first chopping it into flakes and then heating and rolling them into filament.  Members of the collective can then set up recycling stations at waste management centers to earn much more money than they would have by simply turning in plastic bottles for cash.

While 3D Systems’ Ekocycle 3D printer running on cartridges made from Coke bottles is a nice form of marketing, Protoprint’s model for making sustainable filament and empowering impoverished members of Indian society has the potential to change lives and the way we live.  To learn more about the company, visit their website and watch their video below:

Source: spring wise

Feature Image Source: SWaCH

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