Matthew BucklandProduct Design BSc
Desktop 3D printers have now become commonplace in businesses, schools and even the home. The majority of these machines employ a process called Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) to manufacture objects. This involves melting a plastic filament and extruding the molten material, layer upon layer, to build up an item. The final products tend to be prototypes or small models. However, unsuccessful prints and unwanted models are likely to end up in landfill. With the increased adoption of this technology, a more sustainable end of life scenario is necessary for these printed objects. The aim of this project was to investigate methods of recycling plastic waste into filament for desktop 3D printers. Plastic waste could include old 3D printed models along with common packaging plastics such as PET and HIPS, as these plastics have been proven to be successfully reliable for 3D printing. The main focus for this project was on a system to break down plastics for re-use. This was developed through a process of iterative physical prototyping. Starting with scaled mock ups, concepts could be tested quickly to observe what aspects worked well and where modifications were needed. Progressively the prototypes improved providing a good basis on which to develop a final design. The development of Refil opens the possibility for individuals and businesses to recycle their everyday plastic waste into a form they can reuse. This product could make desktop 3D printing more environmentally sustainable while also reducing running costs, making this technology more affordable.