Polyformer turns plastic bottles into 3D printing filaments

What if it were possible to transform a plastic bottle into filaments for 3D printers and thus participate in the reduction of plastic waste? Being able to do just that is the idea behind the open-source Polyformer machine, which was created by designer Reiten Cheng. The machine itself was built from 3D printed parts made from recycled PET. Polyformer is a solution that wants to be accessible to everyone and was created especially for all makers who want to give a second life to plastic. The main objective is to recreate objects from recycled materials in order to reduce our consumption of plastic today.

One of the advantages of 3D printing is its ability to use only the material needed and thus reduce the amount of waste produced. But on top of that, it can also add value to waste and give it a second life – a process called the “circular economy”. Many projects aim to transform used plastic into a 3D printed part. Polyformer is therefore not the first machine of this type, but it is interesting to note that it is an open-source project which aims to democratize the reuse of our plastic waste through additive manufacturing.

Inside the machine (photo credits: Reiten Cheng)

The L-shaped machine is made from 3D printed parts and components found in traditional 3D printers. Recycled PET bottles were used as the raw material, which explains its translucent appearance. Inside the machine is a slicing tool to cut plastic bottles into long continuous strands. These are then placed into the heated end of the machine which melts the plastic. It is then fed through a brass nozzle to create a 1.75mm filament.

Polyformer is equipped with a red motorized spool that pulls the ribbon and winds up the filament as it is made. Once full, the spool is easily removable for later use in an FDM 3D printer.

The spool makes it easy to recover the filament created (photo credits: Reiten Cheng)

So far, about 100 manufacturers have built their Polyformer and provided feedback to the designer to improve the solution. Reiten Cheng concludes: “I envision a future where products can be made at home or in a community center and be recycled into end-of-life items that can be reused to make new products right there. The technology may not be not there yet, but I think it’s not far off if we continue to develop it and implement it as a community.” To learn more about Polyformer, click on HERE.

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