3D printers are getting cheaper by the minute, you can even take one home for as low as US$500.
However, as with their paper counterparts, the cost of supplies is a whole different story. Spools of plastic “ink” retail for US$30 per spool, which may not sound so bad until you misprint and end up with nothing but a blob of plastic. That would make for a very expensive and ugly paperweight.
So to help reduce costs and help the environment, three students from the University of British Columbia made a plastic recycling machine for home and small business 3D printers. Called the ProtCycler, one can make new “ink” filaments in the comfort of one’s home using PLA or ABS plastic.
And the contraption is quite efficient, producing plastic filament at a rate of 5 to 10 fee a minute, which is faster than traditional extruders! Also, it uses so much less energy. If that weren’t enough, you can even add color to your 3D ink.
Sure, there are still issues to resolve, which is why the designers went to Indiegogo to raise over US$100K. They formed a company called ReDeTec that will eventually sell the ProtoCycler for US$699 a unit.
So next time you accidentally print out a plastic skull when you didn’t want to, you can give it new life thanks to this home extruder.