filament updates: coming up with a project name, and let's talk about an end-goal [updates]
So here's the deal. If we're serious about this project we need to come up with some sort of an end-goal to have in mind. But before we even get there. I want to post out a good video we should look at when we actually get to assembling this thing:
This dude makes a lot of really good recommendations on this printer specifically. We're going to take some of them - at least the ones that don't require us to buy things. I think the kit as-is will be sufficient for our needs especially since we're mostly doing this to proof-of-concept test the 3D print with recycled plastic idea.
So what's the end goal of this project? Well first we want to develop a really good system that can do the following things:
(1) Sort plastics by type (HDPE, PET, ABS, TPU, etc.) (2) Shred plastics into very tiny pieces (3) Extrude the plastics into filament (4) 3D print with these plastics
We're focusing on (3) and (4) for now. Because (1) and (2) are only useful if (3) and (4) work. What we really want to do at the end is have a robot that might do all of these things. But it's a modular robot that means it can do these things individually. (at least do 2-4 individually, sorting is a separate challenge). I want to spend a little time drawing out some sketches for that at the moment. There are a few ideas we can try so let's sketch them out...
There's some that involve one module, some two, some three but the basic idea is we either sort by hand which on a large scale is not feasible unless we are trying to hire un-skilled workers which may be an idea). Or we have the machine sort.
What we could do is, for now, assume we're sorting by hand, and use idea number 5 except change the sorter to a printer. The device we design shreds, extrudes filament, and prints, but is modular and all three modules may be able to stack but they also stand-alone. I guess the only difference would be how do these modules actually look. And maybe, would it actually be four modules because the extruder itself would need to be a module so it can be placed on the printer or off the printer you know. Anyways so that is the idea.
So that's the first step. Something that's cheap, low-power, well-designed, robust but useful, and like can do the things we've described above. But that's only half the problem. The other half is like how do we get the recycling that's actually effective to the environment. How do we reduce the carbon footprint and re-use more materials.
We'd also need to think about how to add some pigment to the filaments because, let's be honest, not everyone wants multi-color strange filament.
Let's paste that here for a start because I think that's an important question (change phrasing a bit).
The other half is like how do we get the recycling that's actually effective to reducing our carbon footprint and allows us to re-use more materials using less energy.
So definitely one idea is to organize these things on college campuses through the maker spaces. You put out bins that collect plastic trash and you ask students to sort them into these bins. Put a bunch around campus like one for plastic bottles, one for milk jugs, like the general separation we'd need to do.
We collect these and turn them into 3D printer filament the next day, and then we distribute that filament to labs on campus to use, saving the university money, saving the environment in the process and etc. I think that's a good place to start and then if that works we can bring it to communities.
But the question is, what do we sort into. Like what would these bins be. And that's the kind of research I want to do today for a bit: https://waste4change.com/7-types-plastic-need-know/
So let's look at the above article. That's going to tell us the "7 types of plastic to know" and I think we know most of them but it's good to check.
Let's draw some conclusions from reading this + outside knowledge:
Here are the materials we absolutely should not turn into filament: - PS - number 7 plastics Here are materials we can try to recycle: - PP - LDPE - PVC Here are materials we should recycle: - HDPE - PET - anything from a previous 3D print
So really how we might want to start is like this:
PET (regular disposable water bottles)
HDPE (milk jugs and tide containers and etc)
3D prints but sorted
So that would be three bins, one of which has four compartments the others only have one.
The other thing we'll have to do at the end of this, is calculate the total amount of energy that is needed to do the entire process and run a print. Start-finish. Or at least, the total amount of energy needed to create one roll of filament and we need to compare it to the energy required to make one new roll of filament (including getting the raw materials).
Most 3D printer filament is made from new plastic - a lot of it is not directly recycled (I think) so this could help universities save money and be kinder to the evnrionment but we also need numbers that help us determine if this is, in fact, kinder to the environment, or if it is not at all. If it takes more energy you know.
There is a step we are missing here - and that's washing the plastics before doing anything with them. Yes, something to think about as well later, if this works.
I also want to make an interesting point - I think, we got the X5SA Prop printer and not the X5SA - there's no way to know until it shows up. There were two on amazon - one for 350 the other for 400 and we got the 400 one. It seems like that's the pro version there's just no where where it says pro. But this is a good thing because the pro has insulation and metal upgraded parts which the regular doesn't. Better extruder and things like that.
The question is, where are we going to start, with what materials. And the good news is we have a lot of this leftover from the greenhouse: https://www.homedepot.com/p/HDX-10-ft-x-100-ft-Clear-6-mil-Plastic-Sheeting-CFHD0610C/204711636
This is (polyethylene sheeting) PET plastic. So what we'll do to test our process initially, is shred a whole bunch of this plastic in the regular shredder we have and then use it as our raw material. I think we'll start this afternoon with shredding and stuff. We'll use the crosscut shredder upstairs - normal office shredder. I think it'll be able to handle the plastic.
Mmmmmmkay the shredder overheated. So maybe that isn't just a great idea. So when we actually get to shredding we might want to consider: https://www.instructables.com/id/50-Plastic-Shredder-Grinder-Recycler/
The other thing to think about is that the plastic we're shredding is very plastic-y and stretchy and probably not good for shredding. What if we were to use a milk bottle - that might work you know.
For now I think we need to wait until things show up before we can see what store start doing with them. The plastic shredding might be tricky but we'll figure it out even we have to hand cut the plastic. At least we'll have something.
As a side note, we're naming this project "filament" with the following logo: