Reduce and Reuse: ExtrusionBot’s ‘Cruncher’ Recycles and Pelletizes 3D Printing Filament Waste

ExtrusionLogo-No-Background-2-e1401751671578ExtrusionBot is in the business of supplying 3D printing enthusiasts with materials. Breaking into the 3D printing industry with their specialized ExtrusionBot filament extruder that can be used with any desktop 3D printer, the new — and highly popular — company is keeping forward momentum with innovations for user filament production, and always leaving a smaller footprint.

ExtrusionBot began their journey with a stunning campaign on Kickstarter to reach a goal of $10K for their filament maker but, with huge success, ended with nearly $90K in funding. Now, they’ve launched a new filament product for recycling, the Cruncher, that works side-by-side with ExtrusionBot materials or as a standalone device, and has just been launched on Kickstarter with a goal of $20K — and good progress so far.

Self-contained and homebuilt, the ExtrusionBot itself touts a good long list of benefits to include speed andgif built-in spooling. The primary and most important feature with the ExtrusionBot though is the affordability it lends to the 3D printing enthusiast, who may have gotten past the initial expense and output for the 3D printer itself, but is finding the ongoing filament expense to be a drain — and a drag.

Using ABS or PLA pellets, affordable spools of filament are produced with automatic spooling so that you don’t have to pick up and spool a big mess of filament from the workshop floor later; however, what do you do with all that excess filament? We spend a lot of time discussing speed and affordability, but very little time discussing waste. What do you do with all your filament waste? Is it piling up in the trash or the recycling bin? Have you got it stashed in a corner of your work area, with big plans to use it for a concept that you are still waiting to come to you?

ExtrusionBot is bringing you a way to deal with filament waste now — and to add right back into your bottom line. If you love to come full circle with recycling like so many of us do, this means you are never creating waste.

Enter the Cruncher, which helps you not only with driving down your material costs but also expands your world creatively as you can afford to come up with more design ideas and do the 3D printing, both mastering the technology and coming up with the next amazing invention the world is waiting for. Next time you have a failed print or something that doesn’t come out the way you like, wasting material is not an issue — and now you know what to do with old prototypes sitting around uselessly, gathering dust balls.

the other guysThe fully-motorized Cruncher literally eats up the waste and spits it back out in even smaller pellets than were used originally for making the filament. It can also be used separately, and crunches all materials. Referred to as a ‘pelletizer,’ the recycled filament is reduced to a uniform, fine mass of pellets that make even higher quality 3D prints.

The ExtrusionBot team has been working on the Cruncher for a year now. Functioning prototypes are completed, and with the funds they will perform a slight bit of “fine tuning in the tooling process,” and then begin pumping out the orders for their supporters right away.

With the funds from Kickstarter, the ExtrusionBot and Cruncher team also plan to develop an even larger crunching capacity — from 2″ x 3” to 4″ x 6” — and develop a built-in plunger to go with the machine. Those who pledge at the $50 mark receive 10 pounds of pellets and 5 color packs. As the amount ascends to the $455 range, the Kickstarter supporters receive the machine itself in an early bird special, with packages becoming more inclusive as pledges increase.cycle

And yes, you can basically ‘crunch’ anything you want — including all those plastic water bottles. Whether you are 3D printing or not, crunching unnecessary items looks not only fun but cathartic. What a great way to relax, recycle, save money, and save the planet.

Are you currently recycling your filament? Are you planning to support the Cruncher Kickstarter campaign? Discuss in the ExtrusionBot’s ‘Cruncher‘ Forum over at 3DPB.com. Check out the Cruncher’s Kickstarter video below to see it in action:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfLnxqMqNt8]EB2MODULES-738x650

3D-printed ceramics eat food waste to reduce, reuse, and recycle

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Published on August 13th, 2014 | By: April Gocha, PhD

Published on August 13th, 2014 | By: April Gocha, PhD

[Image above] After brewing a delicious cup of joe, where do those used grounds go? Credit: Song Zhen; Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Designer and engineer Francesco Pacelli is making ceramics “to eat”—not to consume literally, but to eat in a reduce-reuse-recycle sort of way.

Pacelli—a graduate of Italy’s largest technical university, The Polytechnic University of Milan—participated in a project designed to explore potential new directions for future ceramics based on four themes: to like, to sleep, to walk, or to eat.

To explore the food-centric theme, Pacelli experimented by mixing clay with various food wastes, including paper food packaging, dried fruit peels, dried vegetables, and coffee grounds. His idea was to reuse food waste with minimal processing steps required.

(Reuse of food waste has been a popular theme recently—the August issue of the ACerS Bulletin featured a cover story about making glass also from food waste. Download the free article here.)

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Tools of the trade. Credit: F. Pacelli

But, because his idea was to ultimately print the ceramics through a nozzle on a 3D printer, he had to first ground each material (with the exception of already-ground coffee grounds) so that it could pass through the printer nozzle.

Coffee grounds printed most easily, Pacelli says. “I obtained a more accurate mixture with coffee/clay material than with simple clay, because the coffee made the material less gluey, and, moreover, the sequential layers are less influenced by the nozzle’s passage.”

Watch this short video to see the printing in action.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqaNquQEwEg&w=560&h=349]

Credit: Francesco Pacelli; Youtube

After printing, the ceramics were kiln-fired at above 1000°C to burn off the organic material, leaving fine pores. The resulting dried and hardened ceramics are much lighter than conventional ceramics, making them really useful “where you need thermal resistance and lightness,” Pacelli says.

And with worldwide coffee bean production at 8.46 million metric tons in 2011, according to the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation, this reuse could be a welcome one. Other research groups also have previously shown that spent grounds can have other uses, such as for biodiesel fuel.

Pacelli and colleagues at Polytechnic University of Milan recently opened a university 3D printing lab called +LAB, where researchers can blend design and engineering knowledge to conduct research on 3D printing (an industry that is poised to reach $3.7 billion by 2015!).

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A finished coffee–clay-printed product. Credit: F. Pacelli

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Tags:
+LAB, 3D printing, ceramic art, coffee, coffee clay, coffee clay art, coffee grounds, food waste, Francesco Pacelli, The Polytechnic University of Milan