Additive Manufacturing, Manufacturing News, New South Wales, Sustainability

New facility turns hard plastics into 3D printer feedstock

A collaboration between UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT) and Renew IT has begun turning discarded hard plastics into 3D printer feedstock.

A UNSW-invented Plastics Filament MICROfactorie™ Technology module has been installed at the IT asset management company, Renew IT’s Sydney warehouse in Lane Cove, Sydney.

UNSW SMaRT Centre founder and director, professor Veena Sahajwalla, said the system is a sustainable waste, recycling, and manufacturing solution.

“… It is a sustainable waste, recycling, and manufacturing solution. We’re turning the hard plastics found in all modern electronic hardware but not subject to conventional recycling methods into feedstock for a booming sector,” said Sahajwalla.

“Filament is almost entirely imported to Australia and made from petrochemicals, so being able to locally make it from used plastics also reduces the environmental impacts from global freight. 3D printing is a wonderful technology enjoying rapid uptake but the tragedy is until now 3D printing has been reliant on virgin plastics.”

UNSW vice-president of Societal Impact, Equity and Engagement, professor Verity Firth, said UNSW’s partnership with Renew IT has the potential to create genuine, large-scale change.

“The combination of Prof. Sahajwalla’s pioneering science and Renew IT’s commercial expertise and financial commitment can accelerate genuine change. This industry partnership is an exquisite example of UNSW’s commitment to societal impact.”

UNSW Sydney is also developing a Societal Impact Framework to maximise progress in environmental sustainability and resilience, social cohesion, health, wellbeing, and economic prosperity.

Renew IT CEO and founder, James Lancaster, said, “This venture addresses two wicked issues.”

“Not only does it reduce virgin plastic production by creating 3D printing filament from waste items, but it also stops hard plastic ending up in landfill,” said Lancaster.

“If 3D printing feedstock can be competitively produced by recycling plastic, we shouldn’t be producing it with virgin materials.

“By recovering high-quality plastics from e-waste for re-manufacturing, we can help organisations lower their Scope 3 emissions and boost local manufacturing.”

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