Viewing entries tagged
above grade mining


Resource Fix: X-ray vision finds invisible resources

Hundreds of millions of dollars of gold is dug up but then discarded each year because it's not detected in ore. Researchers at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Resource Association have developed a new method to find tiny amounts of gold in ore. Their gamma-activation analysis (GAA), similar to hospital x-rays, is faster and more accurate than the chemical analysis that's currently used in the mining industry. Current methods also require heating ore to 1200 degrees C and involve the use of lead. Researchers plan to adapt the GAA process for silver, lead, zinc, tin, copper, and the platinum group metals.

Better detection of metals means better resource recovery and less waste. It will be interesting to see how the same technology also might be applied to finding tiny amounts of valuable materials in discarded tech and other products.



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

FILABOT is a desktop extruding system capable of grinding various types of plastics to make spools of plastic filament for 3D printers. It’s designed to facilitate the local reuse of materials and the development of 3D printing.
Innovation Summary

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.