DIY Plastic Recycling

Spring 2016 we aim at building a minimal-set of machines for a non-monetary economy using open-source licenced hardware. We start with plastic recycling.

Open Source Plastic Recycling

Opena’s goal to build an Open Nation includes both an inner and outer transition. The outer transition includes the transition to a socially and ecologically just economy. An open nation needs to move from a linear to a circular resource flow in order to become ecologically sustainable. A linear resource flow means that you extract resources from nature, you process those resources to make a product, this product is then bought and consumed. Once the product is consumed, most, or some of the product ends up as waste. A circular economy is an economy with no waste. The output from one industry or service, is the input of another.

Open source plastic recycling workshop

This spring we will try build a minimal viable circular economy for plastics by hosting a series of workshops building open source hardware machines. We want to build ten 3D printers, one plastic shredder and one plastic extruder. The 3D printers build objects from plastic filament. The shredder makes plastic pellets from plastic objects. The extruder makes plastic filament from pellets. It is a small but closed cycle of plastic.

Made up figures of where what and when about our OSCE plastic workshop.

Workshop participants will get 3D printers for themselves and access to the shredder and the extruder so that they can recycle their 3D printing plastic themselves. The output one machine is the input of another.

As a part of our workshop we are looking at various open source hardware for the different machines to find which ones are most suitable and provides the best quality within this price range.  We have chosen to build the Prusa i3 MK2, which is a 3D printer that has created a new standard for this segment of 3D printers as it includes calibration in three dimensions. This is something which has not been done in this price range before. The con is the higher price than if you go for the cheapest buy. It is possible to make the machine cheaper if you source the materials yourself and if you choose cheaper micro-processors, but for our first workshop we want to try to build the real deal, to see how good it can get. We want to feel the taste of quality prints! Also, it is good to have a quality standard to compare with would we choose to source our own materials in the future.

The second machine is a shredder. A shredder is basically a plastic grinder, a machine which cuts your beloved plastic things into smaller plastic grains. These grains can be melted by a third machine to produce filaments. The precious plastic’s shredder seem like a solid design, an alternative would be to go for a design with two rotors, but one rotor for this size of a machine should fit the job quite right.

The third and final machine needed is an extruder. An extruder takes plastic pellets produced from the shredder and turns it into filaments which can later be used for a 3D printer. Although precious plastics has an extruder as well, we found one which we think will produce better filaments as the extruder from precious plastics doesn’t seem to have the variable speed necessary or winding up of the spool necessary to produce a filament which can later be re-used in a 3D printer. The extruder we have chosen is the Lyman extruder. It won the Desktop Factory Competition and produces good results for a cheap price. It uses latex rollers to wind up with tension and a helix winder (wormgear) to make sure the thread aligns correctly on the spool. It further uses mechanical switches to self-regulate winding speed and produce constant-diameter filament.

Next week we will examine extruders more closely and why ABS and PLA are easier to work with than PP.

For more notes on shredder and extruder technical review you can visit Torbjørn’s notes on OSE’s wiki for the shredder here, and for the extruder here. For more information regarding the workshop you can contact us through facebook here.

By: Torbjørn Ludvigsen, Adam Engberg och Andreas Sjöstedt, Opena

Threesome Plastic Recycling – Open Source Circular Economy

by | Dec 4, 2016 | Articles, Collaborative Commons, GRID, Open Source | 0 comments