Aarhus University scientists are spearheading a new study that seeks to recycle plastic waste into a standardized filament product for the 3D printing industry.
The R&D project is a joint collaboration between Aarhus and Scandinavia’s largest plastic recycling company, Aage Vestergaard Larsen A/S.
3D printing is a fast-growing industry and this has led to an increasing global need for print-quality filament.
However, there are currently no standards for this filament, and therefore it is like the Wild West for users of 3D printers, according to associate professor Mogens Hinge:
“When manufacturing plastics, a very common problem is that there are variations from one batch to the other. It’s like felling a forest to produce lumber with similar variations from one tree to another.”
“The problem arises from carelessly using plastic for 3D printer filament, and not dimensioning the components in relation to the material, as is otherwise practiced in the plastics industry.”
Hinge has seen for himself that filament for 3D printing can vary in quality, even though the product comes from the same supplier and is manufactured from the same plastic type.
According to Hinge, this is annoying for the individual consumer. But it is more disastrous for the industry, which, to a large extent demands documentation for the product.
Aarhus and Aage Vestergaard Larsen A/S are now hoping to remedy this with their new project – which Aage Vestergaard Larsen’s business developer and marketing manager, Gitte Buk Larsen, contends has three good reasons for being in place.
“Firstly, it hasn’t yet been possible to produce filament from 100% recycled plastic. Secondly, no one has cracked the code for producing filament based on a data sheet in order to ensure uniform quality. And thirdly, there are currently no filament producers in Denmark,” opines Larsen.
“If the project is successful, it’ll revolutionize the material consumption of 3D printers, which today is largely made up of new plastics.”
“We’re talking about being able to use plastic waste to create new, high-quality filament. It’ll have a significant impact for the environment and the climate in the long term.”
Image and content: Aage Vestergaard Larsen AS/Aarhus University via Eurekalert