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Journal cover: Rapid Prototyping Journal

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Online from: 1995

Subject Area: Mechanical & Materials Engineering

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Distributed recycling of waste polymer into RepRap feedstock


Document Information:
Title:Distributed recycling of waste polymer into RepRap feedstock
Author(s):Christian Baechler, (Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada), Matthew DeVuono, (Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada), Joshua M. Pearce, (Department of Materials Science & Engineering and Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA)
Citation:Christian Baechler, Matthew DeVuono, Joshua M. Pearce, (2013) "Distributed recycling of waste polymer into RepRap feedstock", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 19 Iss: 2, pp.118 - 125
Keywords:Open source, Polymer extrusion, Polymers, Rapid prototyping, Recycling, RepRap, Self-replicating rapid prototyper, Waste management, Waste plastic recycling
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/13552541311302978 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors would like to acknowledge A. Bryson and N. Alazzam for technical assistance.
Abstract:

Purpose – A low-cost, open source, self-replicating rapid prototyper (RepRap) has been developed, which greatly expands the potential user base of rapid prototypers. The operating cost of the RepRap can be further reduced using waste polymers as feedstock. Centralized recycling of polymers is often uneconomic and energy intensive due to transportation embodied energy. The purpose of this paper is to provide a proof of concept for high-value recycling of waste polymers at distributed creation sites.

Design/methodology/approach – Previous designs of waste plastic extruders (also known as RecycleBots) were evaluated using a weighted evaluation matrix. An updated design was completed and the description and analysis of the design is presented including component summary, testing procedures, a basic life cycle analysis and extrusion results. The filament was tested for consistency of density and diameter while quantifying electricity consumption.

Findings – Filament was successfully extruded at an average rate of 90?mm/min and used to print parts. The filament averaged 2.805?mm diameter with 87 per cent of samples between 2.540?mm and 3.081?mm. The average mass was 0.564?g/100?mm length. Energy use was 0.06?kWh/m.

Practical implications – The success of the RecycleBot further reduces RepRap operating costs, which enables distributed in-home, value added, plastic recycling. This has implications for municipal waste management programs, as in-home recycling could reduce cost and greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste collection and transportation, as well as the environmental impact of manufacturing custom plastic parts.

Originality/value – This paper reports on the first technical evaluation of a feedstock filament for the RepRap from waste plastic material made in a distributed recycling device.



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