3D printing a whole lot usually means a ton of prototyping. Breaking down failed prints to make recycled filament is a sustainable way to handle all of the plastic used in the design process. Recycling parts to make new filament saves money, and reduces waste.
Before we can start recycling, we need to sort our parts by color and material. Using these shoe dividers, we can keep the parts separated and organized.
Now we’ll need to break down the parts. We can crush them down with a rubber mallet and use a canvas bag to keep pieces from going everywhere.
Using an electric wood chipper, we can fit in the crushed parts using a feeder and turn them into mulch. Next, we’ll need to sift through the mulch and remove the bigger chucks. We’ll gather up the scraps so we can feed into the filament recycler.
Temperature and extrusion settings vary from material, our guide on the adafruit learning system for has all the details. The filament needs to extrude a while to get a consistent filament diameter, so you’ll need to have a good amount of recycled mulch for your first batch.
Guide the filament down to the floor and use a fan to cool down the plastic as it coils.
Once enough filament has been made to print a part, shut off the extruder. From here the filament can either be spooled or feed directly into the 3D printer.
You can reuse old spools for your new filament! Most spools have a small hole near the inside. Guide the filament through and either hand spool or use a drill to build your own spooler.
Hand spooling filament can be a lengthy process depending on the amount of filament. Patience is key here, don’t try to rush through spooling, as it could introduce knots, kinks and other elements that could damage the filament.
Printing with recycled filamnet didn’t require lowering or increasing any settings. If prints have trouble bonding, increase the heat by just a few degress. If the print looks like it’s melting, try decreasing the heat by a couple of degrees.
Read the full guide for a detailed look at processing your own filament:
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!