Home 3D printing is quite economical now. Still, the expenses on those $30 spools of plastic you use to form your finished products can add up after many projects. The Filabot Reclaimer could change that.
Created by researchers at Michigan Technological University, it's a plastic extruder that turns throwaway plastics into usable filament for 3D printing. That means, all those milk jugs you clean out drowning your cereal, plastic water bottles, old toys and all sorts of plastic products that would otherwise end up in the trash (or your recycle pile) can be transformed into ammo for your future 3D creations.
The Filabot Reclaimer can work with a variety of thermoplastics, including HDPE, LDPE, PET, ABS, nylon and PLA. A self-contained system, it performs the entire process of grinding the plastics (10,000 RPM grinder motor), melting it, extruding the new material (it comes with 3mm and 1.75mm dies for use by the 30 RMP extruder motor), and spooling the filaments after it cools so it comes out neat and tidy, ready to use for a subsequent 3D printing job. The current prototype measures 12 x 12 x 24 inches and can process plastics up to 3 x 3 inches in size (you'll need to cut up big ones manually).
With a machine like this in your workshop, 3D printing isn't just a less-expensive affair -- you also turn the process into a more sustainable activity. All those bad prints you'd otherwise throw away? Just throw it into the Filabot and use it as fresh filament for later.
No word yet on when the production version of the Filabot Reclaimer will drop, although it's supposed to be in production now, with pricing expected at around $350.