A Growing Problem

3D printing includes a waste issue. Accessible manufacturing and the capacity to easily experiment with new designs pushes invention, but it also ramps up errors and piles up useless objects. When lost, these prints contribute to landfills that are already at a crucial level. A better option may be to dispose of PLA with your plastic recycle.

It’s hard to get a handle on exactly the precise statistics of how much waste 3D printing generates. This is particularly true given since the process advances into the homes of a growing number of hobbyists every year. However there are estimates out there.

Filamentive sent out a survey in early 2019, and based on its over 200 responses, the company projects that 8 thousand tons of 3D printing substance will go directly into sidewalks around the world this year. To help picture the situation, the University of California at Berkeley noted in 2017 that their particular pair of 100 3D printers generated at least 212 kilograms of trashed filament that year.

People are serious numbers that contribute to the already alarming amount of plastics that get tossed out every day.

Luckily, the very popular 3D printing substance, PLA, is partially biodegradable. It’s made from cornstarch, so it breaks down simpler than filaments that are produced from synthetic materials such as ABS.

Looking a bit deeper, PLA is a thermoplastic polyester polymer, and you may recognize parts of the tag. “Thermoplastic” means a type of plastic that becomes soft and can be molded once it’s heated to a particular temperature. And”polyester” describes over the usual type of clothes; in this circumstance, it’s a polymer that includes naturally-occurring compounds like the cutin of plant cuticles.

Basically, PLA uses the waxy elements of plants to form its own shape, which helps it break down into biodegradable components rather than staying whole in a landfill indefinitely.

However, the question is, how can you recycle PLA?

The brief answer is, you can undoubtedly recycle PLA filament, although maybe not in the same manner you can recycle your milk jugs, food containers, and other types of everyday plastic. PLA has a lower melting point than other plastics, therefore it can not enter the same package with the rest.

The two chief strategies to recycle PLA would be to hand it over to a recycling plant that knows how to manage it to grind it up and then extrude it into new filament. Below, we’ll go into detail on how to specifically recycle or resuse PLA filament. After all, plastic issues require creative solutions.