3D printing has the potential to disrupt supply chains, bring a new level of precision to manufacturing, and reduce waste
Filament is to a 3D printer as ink is to a deskjet printer
Significant resources are expended to recycle plastics, from transporting to processing them
Filabot provides a way to recycle plastics in place while providing material for 3D printers
3D printing has the potential to completely disrupt supply chains – reducing the need to ship components and finished products, as well as to bring a new level of precision to manufacturing and reduce waste. Of course, every 3D printer needs materials in order to fabricate objects. Fused deposition modeling printers in particular use filament, which is typically formed from virgin plastic. The founder of Rocknail Specialties, Tyler McNaney, saw an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of 3D printers and improve the way we deal with used plastics. His invention, the Filabot, recycles plastics in place while providing material for 3D printers.
3D printing is in a nascent stage, but with the precision that additive manufacturing entails, it holds tremendous potential to reduce resource use and waste. Filabot fills an important need in bringing 3D printing to scale – providing local, reusable materials. The technology also offers a new way to reuse materials in place, reducing the resource use associated with recycling and with the production of virgin plastics. In addition, the system can provide 3D printer users (small to medium) with a method to reconstitute material from printing waste or errors. At a larger scale, such a technology can alter the way businesses manage resource inputs, resource recovery, and producer responsibility.
Filabot was launched in 2012 via one of the most successful crowdfunding Kickstarter campaigns to date.