California-based industrial designer Reiten Cheng has created a device that can transform discarded plastic water bottles into functional filament for 3D printing.
Polyformer: An Accessible, Open-Source Recycler
Known as the ‘Polyformer,’ the modular machine is specifically designed so that most of its parts can be 3D printed, putting it in reach for makers, and enabling it to produce most of the materials needed to replicate itself. Moving forwards, Cheng hopes the system will help make home-based production more plausible for a wider number of people, in a way that advances the circular economy.
“I am imagining a future where products can be manufactured at home or in a community centre and be recycled into things at the end of their life that can be used again to manufacture new products right on-site,
” said Cheng. “The technology might not be there yet, but I believe it’s not far from possible if we keep developing and implementing it as a community,
” adds Cheng.
Addition To the Sustainability Portfolio
Continuing with his work on sustainability-focused products, Cheng has come up with a solution to recycling plastic bottles composed of PET, with around 90% being made from the material. By using a slicing tool built with stacked bearings, the designer says it’s possible to cut such bottles into long ribbons that can then be fed into the Polyformer’s hot end, which reforms them into 1.75mm filament.
According to Cheng, users can mount one end of the filament onto a motorized spool to automate the process, and thanks to the device’s geared mechanism, they’re able to open and close its outer shell, enabling them to tweak things where needed, while stopping them accidentally touching its hot end during use.
Another benefit of the Polyformer is its distinctive L-shaped design, which provides it with a modularity that allows users to chop and change to their heart’s content. The machine’s vertical posture also minimizes the amount of space that it takes up, potentially making it an ideal office or workspace companion, while its mixture of printed and a few accessible parts should make it available to a wide audience. Source: Reiten