DIY desktop 3D-printers may be taking off, with basic flatpack models available for as little as £250, but the printing material itself still has a hefty price tag. A 1kg spool of plastic filament – which is heated then squeezed out in layers like icing to create objects – costs around £50, keeping it in reach of only the most enthusiastic hobbyists.
But the home-printing revolution may now be on its way, thanks to an invention by American college student Tyler McNaney. The Filabot brings a miniature industrial recycling plant to your desktop, grinding down everyday plastic waste and transforming it into ready-to-use printing material.
Everything from water pipes to drinks bottles, plastic wrappers and Lego bricks can be fed into the contraption – which grinds, melts and extrudes the plastic into a filament of either 3mm or 1.75mm diameters. It can also melt down failed or broken 3D prints, allowing for increased trial and error, or the ability to upgrade redundant parts.
“Filabot will bring the real power of sustainability to 3D-printing, allowing for a one-stop-shop to make anything,” says McNaney, who launched the project on Kickstarter last year and raised more than three times his initial $10,000 goal. Fans paid $350 for the first-run version of the machine, although the public model is still under development and no official price has been announced. McNaney plans to launch a range of machines, at different levels of completion, to allow users to adapt and develop their own kit – from the Filabot Core (which comes without a grinder), to the open-source Filabot Wee, which users can build from downloadable plans.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!