3D Printers and DIY Filament Makers

3D Printers and DIY Filament Makers

3D printers are everywhere.

Even President Obama said in his speech about the state of the union that 3D printers had the « potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything ». Their process is really simple, they all make solid objects using an additive process where successive layers of materials are laid down in different shapes as opposed to traditional subtractive machining techniques, which rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting, grinding or drilling.

But it is safe to ask: are 3D printers at the heart of a new model of sustainable production and consumption, or will simplicity and ubiquity cause us to overprint things, and the technology will be used in non-sustainable ways ? Some claim that thanks to 3D printers we will produce less waste. But this is really use-dependent: if users of the printers run several copies to get the best print and then discard the less satisfactory ones it is not the case. Printers are also supposed to be energy-efficient, but this depend really on the kind of printer.One of the main claim for the use of 3D printers is that they can reduce energy-use and associated emissions in transportation compared to providing the same products through conventional manufacturing. Their recycling performances are also largely dependent on users. But many companies are already offering recycle services. Another advantage of 3D printers is that they offer us the ability to use cleaner materials

5487365979_d646125957_z 3D Printers and DIY Filament Makers Blogs

But what could be a really interesting development amongst the 3D printing world is the creation of DIY Filament maker and extruder. RecycleBots are open source supply of 3D printing materials by using recycled materials. It consist in open-source hardware devices A RecycleBot is an open-source for converting waste plastic into filament for open-source 3D printers. The Filabot Wee, for instance, is designed to use as few parts as possible, while still making quality filament quickly, for 3D printers The plans are freely available so that everyone can build their own. The machine can also be bought in kit.

Other initiatives exist such as Dave Hakkens’ Precious Plastic project. The Dutch designer started from the observation that plastic is a great material: it is lightweight, strong, easy to shape and great to recycle. But it is rarely recycled, and seen as a disposable and worthless material. He developed a series of machines to set up a small scale plastic workshop.The goal is for people to bring old plastic to workshops and make new products out of it, this would then allow to produce plastic locally. His whole project is documented on his website. At the end, the blueprints are going to be made available to everyone for free.

Useful links to go further.

Microplastics: Beat the Microbead

Microplastics: Beat the Microbead

4073190917_a09d439bc4 Microplastics: Beat the Microbead News

Microplastic are small plastic pieces or fibers measuring less than 5mm. In personal care products they are almost always smaller than 1mm. They can also come from other, indirect sources: plastic waste into the ocean, due to the effects of weathering, sunlight and wave action, reduces to smaller particles and does not biodegrade.

But why do hundreds, if not thousands of different personal care products use microbeads as abrasive scrubbers and for cleaning when traditional, fast-degradable alternatives such as ground nut shells and salt crystals exists? When these products are washed down the drain after use, the microbeads are too small to be retained by filters at sewage plants and end up in rivers, canals, and ultimately into the seas and oceans. This has negative impact to marine biodiversity and associated implications for human health: marine species are unable to distinguish between food and microplastics and therefore indiscriminately feed on microplastics. Some species of fish excrete plastic easily, but others do not and accumulate plastic internally.

The surface of microplastics have been proven to attract and absorb persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from the marine environment. Traces of POPs for instance were found in birds, ingested together with their plastic hosts. Scientists hypothesis that over time, POPs will start accumulating in the food chain, transferring from species to species, with consequences ultimately for humans.

These observations led to the Dutch campaigned Beat the Microbead. This campaign now extended to many other countries. And in november 2012 they launched a smartphone app to help consumers. The app allows consumers to scan the barcodes of personal care products and to see which one contains microplastics. It has a 3 color-code:

  • green means that the product is completely free from plastic.
  • Orange, that the product contains plastic but the manufacturer has made a public commitment to phase out microbead in the future.
  • Red means that not only the product contains plastic, but that there is no future plan to eliminate it from the product.


Throughout the campaigns producers have been asked to stop adding microplastics to cosmetics, and many have responded positively. If you don’t own a smartphone you can still access the list of products in your country on the Beat the Microbead Website.


Useful link:


Edible Water Bottle

Edible Water Bottle

An edible and compostable membrane can be used as a packaging for water, replacing the highly pollutants plastic bottles currently used. The bubble can act as a standard replacement for plastic bottles, but has more specific applications as well. It can, for instance, be used in running events, replacing the usual paper-cuts handed to runners which create a lot of waste.

The membrane is made out of a double gelatinous membrane. When you get thirsty you simply have to break it and drink. If you want to you can then eat the membrane or throw it away, since it is made out of compostable elements.

This is the idea behind Ohoo, a concept created by 3 young designers based in London: Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche. They won the Lexus Design Award for their idea earlier on this year. Their inspiration comes from the way nature encapsulates liquids using membranes.

The technique consist in creating a double gelatinous membrane made out of sodium alginate (E401), coming from brown algae, and of calcium chloride (E509). The bubbles are then shaped using a molecular gastronomy inspired techniquespherification process: spherification. The water is frozen and encapsulated in the double gelatinous membrane. Thanks to this technique the costs of the capsules are very low, with an average of 2cts per piece.

The main idea of Ooho is that everyone could make them in their kitchen, modifying and innovating the recipe. Since the concept is really new, a detailed and complete DIY guide is not available yet. But it uses the basic concept of spherification and even though the ingredients are not the ones we usually find in one’s kitchen cabinet, it is not so difficult to find them

Useful links:

To make the water bubble at home you will need:Ohoo_Botellas_de_agua_comestibles_para_luchar_contra_el_plastico Edible Water Bottle Blogs

  • 1 g of sodium alginate (a natural substance derived from brown seaweed)

  • 5 g of food-grade calcium lactate (a type of salt that can be found commonly in cheese)

  • A bowl filled with 1 cup of drinking water

  • Another bowl filled with 4 cups of water

  • Another bowl filled with water for rinsing off the “bottles”

  • An immersion blender (you could also use a regular blender)

  • A deep spoon like a measuring spoon

Step1: Add 1 g of sodium alginate to 1 cup of water. Then use an immersion blender to dissolve the sodium alginate for about 3 minutes. Then set the mixture aside for 15 minutes to get rid of any air bubbles that may have formed during blending.

Step 2: Add 5 g of calcium lactate to 4 cups of water and mix well using a spoon.

Step3: Scoop up some of your sodium alginate solution using a deep spoon. Very carefully plop the sodium alginate into the calcium lactate bath. Repeat with the remaining sodium alginate but do not crowd the bath.

Step 4: Stir the sodium alginate bubbles very gently for 3 minutes.

Step 5: After 3 minutes, remove the “bottles” from the calcium lactate bath using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a water bath to stop the reaction.

And there you have it! Your edible water “bottles” are ready for drinking, er, eating, or whatever you want to call it.

Inspired from the: DIY VIDEO: How to Make an Edible Water “Bottle” | Inhabitat New York City