While the cost of 3D printers has dropped over the years, the cost to supply them with filament “ink” has yet to fall.
As it currently stands, buying a kilogram of plastic filament for your 3D printer will set you back about $50. The one way to lower the costs would be to produce the filament yourself. Amid concerns about the amount of waste that 3D printed materials contribute to landfills, it seems natural that more eco-friendly and economical solutions would present themselves soon.
Liz Havlin, a Seattle based entrepreneur is working on a project that turns recycled plastic into 3D printer ink. The extruder she is working on, known as the “Legacy,” is designed by Hugh Lyman, an 83-year-old designer who holds eight patents and has been building a number of affordable desktop 3D printers. The Legacy extruder allows an 80 percent savings on the material costs. While a spool of plastic filament costs about $50 per kg, buying a kilogram of pellets and extruding your own filament only costs about $10.
The Legacy extruder works by taking plastic from soda bottles into the machine, melting the plastic down, and extruding it in the shape of 3D printer filament. The filament is then wrapped into a spool for you put directly into your printer – a more ecofriendly and much more affordable one too.
Liz Havlin researched Mr. Lyman, and then visited him in his workshop. Together they hatched the idea to bring Hugh’s extruder to life, and eventually get it on the market. They plan to seek funding on Kickstarter for the development of the project.