3D Printing from Post-Consumer Waste
Leveraging post-consumer waste from In & Out Burger as 3D printer feed-stock, re:3D is committed to sustainable, local manufacturing.
Describe your idea
We propose to create an open-source modification of our commercially available, affordable, industrial 3D printer (the Gigabot) to accept reclaimed polypropylene (PP) bags from In & Out Burger.
Currently there are not any industrial 3D printers with significant traction dedicated to innovations to accept reclaimed plastics. There have been attempts to create hardware to extrude plastic pellets from ground up plastic into formats that standard 3D printers can accept (e.g. the Filabot), however this process has been unable to produce consistent amounts needed for large functional objects or in industrial settings.
We seek to eliminate the need for intermediary formats and to adapt the hardware to directly accept reclaimed plastic, beginning with post-manufacturing waste to reliably produce large, functional objects. We are also prepared to modify the hardware to overcome the material science challenges (heat requirements, shrinkage/swelling calculations, etc) that this solution requires, beginning with PP provided by In & Out Burger.
re:3D sets itself apart from other companies within the industry in a number of different ways. We are dedicated to the idea that anyone, anywhere should have access to their own factory with control of their own supply chain. We do everything in our power to keep the costs of our printers as low as possible, and we are committed to the idea of being open source. With these principles in mind, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to dedicate funds to pursuing R&D works such as this. Winning the [re]verse Pitch will allow our team to pursue this opportunity.
For our initial pilot, we plan to use the [re]verse pitch prize money to cover the materials costs of enabling Gigabot to 3D print from polypropylene. Concurrent with development, we plan to work with the In&Out service staff to collect bags. Once collected, we will cut the labels off of the bags and transport them to facility to be pelletized for 3D printing. The pelletized PP will then be used for prototyping. Once successful, we will work with the City of Austin to design and 3D print a park bench to be donated to the community as the initial demonstration of the ability to 3D print from reclaimed plastic.
Having raised $300,000 on Kickstarter for sharing our vision to make human-scale 3D printers that will eventually use reclaimed plastic, and placed as a finalist or winner in every pitch competition we have shared our passion at, we have demonstrated worldwide support. However as the opportunity 3D printing provides is just becoming appreciated and the industry is not growing at 10x, there are few groups such as us that are determined to assume the risk to pioneer the technology to new markets while decimating the consumables vertical through a circular economy.
Describe your knowledge, skills and abilities
The re:3D team consists of passionate entrepreneurs with diverse professional backgrounds, united to make 3D printing accessible to everyone. The Founders have highly complementary pedigrees that leverage their professional NASA experiences. We have an expert team of engineers, designers, materials experts, and experienced project managers working towards this solution. The resources that have been accumulated as a business for the last 3 years gives our team the ability and confidence to know that we posses the background necessary to pioneer the technology proposed.
Our team has been recognized by a number of awards: 2016 Austin A-List Emerging StartUp, 2016 HelloTomorrow Industry 4.0 Track, 2015 Collision Pitch Winner, 2015 Core 77 Open Design Professional Winner. We believe this demonstrates that we have the knowledge, network, passion to see 3D printing from waste realized.
Describe how your idea will utilize materials and create jobs
Once the concept of 3D printing from PP bags is validated, we intend to commercially sell the technology, which would scale our Austin workforce. Should In & Out intend to continue pursuing making their PP bags available for 3D printing, we envision new job creation in establishing collection bins, sorting, and pelletizing In & Out PP plastic. Additionally, demand for 3D printed objects made from reclaimed plastic open up new job potential in design, curating job growth throughout the 3D printing ecosystem.
In addition to providing a outlet for re-purposing plastic that otherwise would have been unused and possibly contaminate the environment, we seek to expand the potential of allowing resource constrained populations to manufacture solutions to local problems and not be dependent on imported materials.
Describe the environmental impact
In addition to the benefits of low-cost prototyping, efficient low volume manufacturing, and unparalleled abilities to create complex geometries, additive manufacturing utilizing reclaimed and recycled materials offers the key advantage of significant energy savings. Additive manufacturing is also uniquely qualified to take advantage of creating end use products from recycled materials due to its small scale production and distributed form of manufacturing that locates production in close proximity to available recycled feedstock materials.
According to the EPA's March 2015 WARM (Waste reduction Model) report, the energy savings for using recycled polymers is between 32.6 and 50.9 million BTU / short tons of recycled material depending upon the type of polymer. Recycling of plastics represents a 76% savings in energy. It is also estimated that roughly 30% of the available PET post consumer waste is currently being recycled. The remaining 70% is diverted to landfill or not properly disposed through littering and pollution.
The successful implementation of this project would lead to increased re-use of recyclable materials. It is re:3D's hope that this project will go beyond just the PP from In-N-Out Burger, and that the technology created for this competition will lead to an overall reduction in landfill waste. The impact will not only be felt locally but internationally, to the already 50+ countries who already use Gigabot.
Describe the product end of life-cycle
Additive manufacturing is uniquely qualified to take advantage of creating end use products from recycled materials due to its small scale production and distributed form of manufacturing that locates production in close proximity to available recycled materials.
The ultimate goal with the development of this technology would be the ability for the PP, in this context, to no longer have an end of life. The PP bags would continue to be used over and over again through: printing end products, reprocessing printing errors back into 3D printer feedstock, and reprinting again into end products.
re:3D Inc.® is a full-service additive manufacturing company that is decimating the current limitations of 3D printing while unlocking new applications & high-growth markets worldwide. Gigabot, re:3D’s flagship technology, enables industrial strength, large-scale 3D printing at an affordable price point. With a build volume starting at eight cubic feet and robust construction, Gigabot can print objects more than 50x larger than competing desktop models while rivaling the capability of other industrial systems. re:3D’s customer base comprises an esteemed group of specialty manufacturers, engineers, designers, universities, and defense professionals in over 50+ countries that actively leverage re:3D for contract printing, design consulting, printer sales, and material evaluation.
-Current customers include hospitals, universities, Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and specialty manufacturers
-As a member of America Makes and an active partner on university grants - furthering academic rigor in additive manufacturing, re:3D is on the leading edge of industry R&D
-Formally recognized by leading design, commerce, and technology organizations for innovation and success