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Recycling 3D Printed Plastic

By Norman Chan

Two maker projects want to give 3D printer users a way to reclaim ABS plastic.

We often compare the state of 3D printers to the dot matrix printing era: an industry reaching mainstream awareness and creeping into the home market, but still not practical for most people. In addition to the introduction of PostScript and improved software compatibility, desktop inkjet printers proliferated in part due to the business model of selling printer hardware at a low cost and making up for it in ink cartridges. We're not quite there yet for 3D printers, but two companies want to get ahead of the potential price hike in 3D printer filament. Filabot and FilaMaker are two devices that can take in ABS plastic--whether it's previously 3D printed pieces or commercial product packaging--and then grind, melt, and extrude that plastic stock back into filament that ABS-based 3D printers can use. Both products claim to produce filament with an even consistency suitable for feeding into 3D printers, though they may not be cost-effective for a long time. Filabot is on sale now, and FilaMaker's creators are starting an Indiegogo project soon. One consideration not mentioned by either company: the toxic fumes generated from melting large quantities of ABS plastic. (h/t BoingBoing)