Turn Your Plastic Recyclables Into 3D Printing Spools With Filabot

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Source: Filabot

3D printers are getting cooler every day, but there’s one component integral to 3D printing that normally gets overlooked – that is, until you have to pay for it. As many 3D hobbyists have no doubt discovered, the one time cost of the printer can be quickly dwarfed by feeding it spool after spool of raw plastic. At $40 or more per spool, an avid hobbyist can see his or her enthusiasm rapidly diminished.

Maybe Filabot won’t revolutionize how 3D printing is done, but how often it is done.

Filabot is a 3D plastic extrusion system that takes all kinds of recyclable plastic – milk jugs, soda, detergent and shampoo bottles – and turns them into raw material for 3D printing creativity. Launched as a Kickstarter campaign, Filabot raised three times its $10,000 goal. Its creator, Tyler McNaney, plans on launching in the near future.

Not only will your household recyclables now appear as treasure troves of cheap and virtually endless supply of 3D printing plastic, all those projects that didn’t print right, cracked, or just didn’t turn out the way you thought it would can now be given a second chance at greatness.

The way Filabot works is pretty straightforward. It’s fed pieces of plastic up to 4 inches in diameter, which are then ground down to smaller pieces and are squeezed through a heated barrel that melts the plastic down. The molten plastic is then extruded out through interchangeable nozzles – 3mm or 1.75mm in diameter – to produce the plastic filament. The filament is then shaped to the right size for printing as it is pressed between a pair of grooved barrels. Finally, a cutter corrects any shape irregularities that might’ve made it past the barrels.

Watch one of the early prototypes in action in the following video.

Filabot can process thermoplastics such as HDPE, LDPE, ABS, and NYLON, and there are plans in place to process more types in the future. It doesn’t process PVC because of toxicity risks.

McNaney told me in an email that they plan on launching Filabot as soon as they’ve finished getting out all of their Kickstarter rewards. When they do their flagship model, the Filabot Reclaimer, will be available on the company’s website. The Filabot was priced at $350 (unassembled) for the Kickstarter campaign. Depending on how much you use your 3D printer, it could pay for itself in no time.

Discussion — 14 Responses

  • DigitalGalaxy February 4, 2013 on 3:53 pm

    Amazing!

  • Marceli Lewtak February 4, 2013 on 4:11 pm

    I Wish I Had One……

  • Joe Nickence February 5, 2013 on 5:53 am

    THAT’S what the system needs. NOW I’ll look into getting a 3D printer!

  • Craig J. Townsend February 7, 2013 on 2:07 pm

    oh my were are running out of resources! Not! Malthus was a moron and everyone who thinks like him is a linear minded troglodyte. Now we will be scurrying through garbage bins to feed our creative habit, 3-D printing. This will give jobs to the homeless as Urban Resource Miners! lol

  • Robert Schreib March 17, 2013 on 1:36 pm

    ?? Could they make a GIANT sized version of the FilaBot to solve a giant sized problem? That is, the beaches of many Hawaiian islands are covered over a meter thick in plastic debre that just keeps coming in from the ocean. So, what if we set up a giant Filabot in these places, and created a giant Fresnel Lens to focus the intense sunlight there to cheaply provide the heat needed to melt that plastic beach trash into the recycled plastic filiament spools this machines uses, and then it could 3D print out entire rowboats, surfboards, chairs, and misc. building materials? Turn the uneneding tons of beach plastic garbage into something commercially valuable?