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Recycling Milk Jugs More Inexpensively as 3D Printer Filament

Posted on: 03/17/2014
A study completed at Michigan Technological University has shown that making your own plastic 3D printer filament from milk jugs uses less energy—often a lot less—than recycling milk jugs conventionally.

The team did a life-cycle analysis on a standard milk jug made from HDPE plastic. After cleaning it and cutting it in pieces, they ran it through an office shredder and a RecycleBot, which turns waste plastic into 3D printer filament.

Compared to an ideal urban recycling program, which collects and processes plastic locally, turning milk jugs into filament at home uses about 3 percent less energy. This savings can be increased to 70 percent when factoring in transportation costs related to municipal recycling.

Consumers also save big from making their own filament, which retails from between $36 to $50 a kilogram. The research team estimates that producing filament at home from recycled plastic costs about 10 cents a kilogram.

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