Learn if 3D printing plastic is Recyclable

A Growing Problem

3D printing includes a waste issue. Accessible manufacturing and the ability to easily experiment with new layouts drives invention, but it also ramps up mistakes and piles up useless objects. When discarded, these prints contribute to landfills that are at a critical level. A better option may be to dispose of PLA with your plastic recycle.

It’s difficult to get a handle on exactly the the statistics of how much waste 3D printing produces. This is especially true given as the procedure advances into the homes of a growing number of amateurs every year. However there are estimates out there.

Filamentive sent a poll in early 2019, and based on its more than 200 answers, the company projects that 8 thousand tons of 3D printing material will go directly into sidewalks across the world this year. To help visualize the situation, the University of California at Berkeley noted in 2017 their own set of 100 3D printers generated at 212 kilograms of trashed filament that year.

People are serious numbers that add to the alarming amount of plastics that get tossed out daily.

Luckily, the most popular 3D printing material, PLA, is partially biodegradable. It’s made from cornstarch, so it breaks down easier than filaments that are made from synthetic materials such as ABS.

Looking a bit deeper, PLA is a thermoplastic polyester polymer, and you may recognize pieces of the tag. “Thermoplastic” means a kind of plastic that becomes soft and may be molded once it’s heated to a particular temperature. And”Comfort” refers to more than a kind of clothes; in this case, it’s a plastic which includes naturally-occurring chemicals like the cutin of plant cuticles.

Fundamentally, PLA uses the waxy elements of crops to form its shape, and that helps it break down into biodegradable parts rather than staying whole in a landfill forever.

However, the question is, how can you recycle PLA?

The short answer is, you may undoubtedly recycle PLA filament, but maybe not in the same manner you can recycle your milk jugs, food containers, and other kinds of routine plastic. PLA has a lower melting point than other plastics, so it can’t enter the same package with the rest.

Both chief strategies to recycle PLA would be to hand it over to a recycling plant that knows how to manage it or to grind it up and extrude it into fresh filament. Below, we’ll go into detail on how to recycle or resuse PLA filament. In the end, plastic issues require creative solutions.


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