Jump to content
Ultimaker Community of 3D Printing Experts
Sign in to follow this  

What about printing with recycled plastic.

Recommended Posts

My girlfriend is a lot int recycling and upcycling.

She would really like to get into 3D printing BUT..

If so it has to be using recycled plastic.

I have tried to find recycled filament but so far without any luck.

Any one that have found a source?

Some options.

I think that I once found recycled pellets.

Did not find it now but if that exist and I buy a filabotor filamaker I could make my own filament from pellets.

That would however cost and I'm not sure I like the idea of one more heat generating device.

Or, one could get a shredder as well, more money.

The only plastic I have in any quantity would be PET.

Is that material even usable for 3D printing considering it's not a common filament?

I'm also a bit worried about my girlfriend going crazy starting to collect everything she can find in any garbage and take it home to our small apartment for cleaning in the bathtub etc. ;)

When she asked me I was skeptical about print quality from a mix of bottles even if they have the same markings. Same type of plastic does probably not guarantee same specifications. I mean, even PLA from different manufacturers might need different settings for a god quality print.

What do you all think about this question concerning recycling, different plastics and print quality.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think for most people, 3D printing is already challenging enough without adding variable plastic quality. Just a few specks of the wrong kind of plastic (or non-plastic) can clog your head and ruin your print, and require a time-consuming cleaning process.

There is a filament called Taulman T-Glase which is labelled "PETT" and is one of very few 3D printing materials to be approved for food contact. http://taulman3d.com/t-glase-features.html

but I'm not sure if that is the same as "PET" (polyethylene terephthalate) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyethylene_terephthalate.

When I google for "PETT plastic" the only links are to that specific Taulman filament. Did they invent their own acronym?


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

What do you all think about this question concerning recycling, different plastics and print quality.


Find a new girlfriend.


Does she know that PLA is made from corn oil? It's also "biodegradable" but I think you have to leave it in a pond for 10 years.

google "filastruder".


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Short answer: The perpetual plastic project recycles plastic to print. This is very, very difficult though. Making fillament at all is already difficult, recycling it adds even more complexity.

Long answer; There is a lot that you need to do to get it right. The main problemn with PLA for instance is that it degrades at the printing temperatures. This means that recycling it will ruin your material to some extent. ANother big problem is how to correctly mix the materials. As said; You want a perfect mix of the material, but with more dye added to prevent the ugly color. But leaving it longer in your extruder will degrade the material. This is usualy the reason that you don't use 100% recycled material, but addd some new material to improve the quality to acceptable levels.

So now you have the material right, you also want fillament that has a good shape & consistency, which is an art onto itself.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Wallan,

Maybe this is something usefull, it's also not that expensive to give it a go at about 250 dollar/euro.

If you use the parts of filament from projects gone wrong, you at least have the same quality filament and you can recycle them and even mix for making your own color ! It also comes with different sized nozzles.

Greetz Phantom.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

As said; You want a perfect mix of the material, but with more dye added to prevent the ugly color.


That doesn't work - you cannot add more pigment or "dye" to get a better color, because it becomes too much pigment and alters the plastic characteristics, and you cannot get rid of or hide whatever combination of pigment is already in the recycled plastic.

Adding red pigment to a green material does not make it red, it makes it mud-colored. Pigment colors are additive, not subtractive. Try melting some wax crayons together and tell us what you get.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It´s not impossible. I like the saying, everybody said it is impossible then somebody came who did not know this and just did it.

There are a lot of different projects out there and some seem to be produceing really good filament:

Lyman Extruder: Now in version 5 with an LCD to controll everything and continous thickness measureing. Seems to be the best at the moment. This filament makeing unit was printed with material made on the previous version... says it all.


Filastruder: Another possibility






Only to name some I know...

Filament companies like Colorfabb even started to sell their colors as pellets, a lot cheaper and so that you can make your own filament. And if you are looking for a shredder, I think it was Filabot who offered one driven by a crank. So it seems to work. Recycling plastic is a normal process in the plastic industry. Of course you can also buy such recycled material and yes it´s often being mixed with virgin material. And of course it takes some time and thinkering to get perfect results. Same as with 3D printing, but from a technical perspective I think such an extrusion machine is not as complex as a 3D printer and who would have thought that normal people like you and me would be builing their own 3D printers five years ago?

I am not 100% sure about the quality of this self made filament, but it seems to be printable and the quality will improve steadily as the 3D printers do.

A lyman extruder is one of the projects I am planning to realize sooner or later... Maybe I will get it done this year, maybe not.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want quality prints. Then don't recycle.

Unless.... you are looking for a new hobby, which is producing filaments. You'll be spending more time trying to figure out how to produce quality filament from recycled stuff then actually printing stuff with it.

I would throw it on the bio-degradable. Tell your girlfriend PLA is bio-degradable. So having to recycle it is less of an issue. So, in the end, if you use more PLA based objects, you use less "environmental unfriendly" plastics. Win for both.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Our picks

    • Ultimaker Cura | a new interface
      We're not only trying to always make Ultimaker Cura better with the usual new features and improvements we build, but we're also trying to make it more pleasant to operate. The interface was the focus for the upcoming release, from which we would already like to present you the first glance. 
        • Like
      • 130 replies
    • "Back To The Future" using Generative Design & Investment Casting
      Designing for light-weight parts is becoming more important, and I’m a firm believer in the need to produce lighter weight, less over-engineered parts for the future. This is for sustainability reasons because we need to be using less raw materials and, in things like transportation, it impacts the energy usage of the product during it’s service life.
        • Like
      • 12 replies

Important Information

Welcome to the Ultimaker Community of 3D printing experts. Visit the following links to read more about our Terms of Use or our Privacy Policy. Thank you!