RepRapable Recyclebot: Open source 3-D printable extruder for converting plastic to 3-D printing filament
FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Project data
Location Michigan, USA
Status Designed
Verified by MOST
Cost USD 700
OKH Manifest Download
FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Device data
Hardware license CERN-OHL-S
Certifications Start OSHWA certification

A RecycleBot is a waste plastic extruder that creates 3-D printer filament from waste plastic and natural polymers.

Notice: Check out the new camera based diameter sensor Why it is needed Filamentive survey

RepRapable Recyclebot: Open source 3-D printable extruder for converting plastic to 3-D printing filament[edit | edit source]

In order to assist researchers explore the full potential of distributed recycling of post-consumer polymer waste, this article describes a recyclebot, which is a waste plastic extruder capable of making commercial quality 3-D printing filament. The device design takes advantage of both the open source hardware methodology and the paradigm developed by the open source self-replicating rapid prototyper (RepRap) 3-D printer community. Specifically, this paper describes the design, fabrication and operation of a RepRapable Recyclebot, which refers to the Recyclebot's ability to provide the filament needed to largely replicate the parts for the Recyclebot on any type of RepRap 3-D printer. The device costs less than $700 in mate rials and can be fabricated in about 24 h. Filament is produced at 0.4 kg/h using 0.24 kWh/kg with a diameter ±4.6%. Thus, filament can be manufactured from commercial pellets for <22% of commercial filament costs. In addition, it can fabricate recycled waste plastic into filament for 2.5 cents/kg, which is <1000X commercial filament costs. The system can fabricate filament from polymers with extrusion temperatures <250 °C and is thus capable of manufacturing custom filament over a wide range of thermopolymers and composites for material science studies of new materials and recyclability studies, as well as research on novel applications of fused filament based 3-D printing.

Source[edit | edit source]

Aubrey L. Woern, Joseph R. McCaslin, Adam M. Pringle, and Joshua M. Pearce. RepRapable Recyclebot: Open Source 3-D Printable Extruder for Converting Plastic to 3-D Printing Filament. HardwareX 4C (2018) e00026 doi: open access

  • Just the code: OSF

Distributed Recycling of Waste Polymer into RepRap Feedstock[edit | edit source]


Abstract[edit | edit source]

Purpose[edit | edit source]

A low-cost, open source, self-replicating rapid prototyper (RepRap) has been developed, which greatly expands the potential user base of rapid prototypers. The operating cost of the RepRap can be further reduced using waste polymers as feedstock. Centralized recycling of polymers is often uneconomic and energy intensive due to transportation embodied energy. This paper provides a proof of concept for high-value recycling of waste polymers at distributed creation sites.

Design/methodology/approach[edit | edit source]

Previous designs of waste plastic extruders (also known as RecycleBots) were evaluated using a weighted evaluation matrix. An updated design was completed and the description and analysis of the design is presented including component summary, testing procedures, a basic life cycle analysis and extrusion results. The filament was tested for consistency of density and diameter while quantifying electricity consumption.

Findings[edit | edit source]

Filament was successfully extruded at an average rate of 90 mm/min and used to print parts. The filament averaged 2.805±0.003mm diameter with 87% of samples between 2.540± 0.003mm and 3.081± 0.003mm. The average mass was 0.564 ± 0.001 g/100mm length. Energy use was 0.06 kWh/m.

mqdefault.jpgYouTube_icon.svg on Recycling with Recyclebot

Practical implications[edit | edit source]

The success of the Recyclebot further reduces RepRap operating costs, which enables distributed in-home, value added, plastic recycling. This has implications for municipal waste management programs as in-home recycling could reduce cost and greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste collection and transportation as well as the environmental impact of manufacturing custom plastic parts.

Originality/value[edit | edit source]

This paper reports on the first technical evaluation of a feedstock filament for the RepRap from waste plastic material made in a distributed recycling device.

Source[edit | edit source]

Christian Baechler, Matthew DeVuono, and Joshua M. Pearce, "Distributed Recycling of Waste Polymer into RepRap Feedstock" Rapid Prototyping Journal, 19(2), pp. 118-125 (2013). open access

Recyclebot evolution[edit | edit source]

Full technical information, BOMs and build instructions found at the links below. Also when designing consider Improving recyclebot concepts

Recyclebot version 2.0 and 2.1[edit | edit source]

Recyclebot version 2.2[edit | edit source]

Recyclebot version 2.3[edit | edit source]

  • 3-D printable Chain guard for the RecycleBot

Recyclebot version 3.0[edit | edit source]

Recyclebot v4.0ac[edit | edit source]

  • Under final development now

Recyclebot v4.0dc[edit | edit source]

  • Under final development now

Recyclebot v4.1[edit | edit source]

Recyclebot v5.0[edit | edit source]

RepRapable Recyclebot[edit | edit source]

  • Functional -- Recyclebot v6

RepRapable Recyclebot 6.1[edit | edit source]

RepRapable Recyclebot 6.2[edit | edit source]

Igor Cudnik of Poznan University of Technology resolved i2c (right now working on adding it as a preproccesor instruction, and move all config to config.h file). He made also a whole new electric scheme, to make it easier for electrical newbies. Eventually he is working on CAD models to make them fully parametric and accessible from FreeCAD.

All of his changes can be found on my codeberg repo:

Other types of RecycleBots[edit | edit source]

Quick payback time calculation[edit | edit source]


  • commercial filament currently sells for about $35/kg
  • electricity cost from [3] is $0.10/kg
  • plastic if recycled cost $0/kg
  • if you buy pellets sells from $1-$10/kg

Payback time in kg produced = recyclebot cost/(commercial filament cost avoided - (elec+plastic))

Worst case = (filastruder+filawinder)/(commercial filament cost avoided - high end pellets -elec recyclebot)=$450/($35-$10.10)=18kg

Best case = filastruder plus floor winding/(commercial filament cost avoided - recycled plastic) = $290/($35-0.1) = 8.3kg

Rich case = filastruder+filawinder/(commercial filament cost avoided - recycled plastic) = $450/($35-0.1) = 12.8kg

Then you stick the filament in your RepRap and print $1000s of dollars of goods for pennies: see Life-cycle economic analysis of distributed manufacturing with open-source 3-D printers

Recyclable Polymers[edit | edit source]

Image Made of Used in Melting temperature C
PETE Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Soda & water containers, some waterproof packaging. 260°C
HDPE High-Density Polyethylene. Milk, detergent & oil bottles, Toys and plastic bags. 130°C
Type 3
V Vinyl/Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Food wrap, vegetable oil bottles, blister packages. 160°C
Type 4
LDPE Low-Density Polyethylene. plastic bags. Shrink wrap, garment bags. 120°C
Type 5
PP Polypropylene. Refrigerated containers, some bags, most bottle tops, some carpets, some food wrap. 130°C
Type 6
PS Polystyrene. Throwaway utensils, meat packing, protective packing. 240°C
Type 7
Others. Layered or mixed plastic.

These symbols are meant to indicate the type of plastic, not its recyclability.

  • Types 1 and 2 are commonly recycled.
  • Type 4 is less commonly recycled.
  • The other types are generally not recycled, except perhaps in small test programs.
  • Common plastics polycarbonate (PC) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) do not have recycling numbers.
  • Plastics 3, 6, and 7 probably contain BPA and should not be used to store anything that will be consumed by humans.
  • The majority of plastic packaging was made with one of six resins there are codes for those six as well as a seventh, 7-OTHER, to be used when the product in question is made with a plastic other than the common six, or is made of more than one plastic used in combination. Currently, 7 plastics can sometimes be recycled into bottles or plastic lumber. However, polycarbonate plastic, one variety coded number 7, is made with the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA. The National Toxicology Program reports that BPA may have adverse effects on the development of the brain and behavior of fetuses, infants and children, and advises consumers to limit BPA exposure by avoiding number 7 plastic containers.[4]. There is a potential academic project here to call for greater granularity in the plastic codes - if anyone wants to work on this please contact me. -- Joshua 17:18, 31 July 2013 (PDT)

See also[edit | edit source]

Perpetual Plastic Project

Perpetual Plastic Project - Giant Room Size RecycleBot that takes people through all the steps now joined by Ultimaker

Peer Reviewed articles covering recyclebot technology[edit | edit source]

Articles about the RecycleBot[edit | edit source]

The New Scientist - Ethical Filament Story
  • RecycleBot turns old milk jugs into 3D printer feedstock -- 3Ders
  • Researchers Develop RecycleBot to Recycle Plastic Using 3D Printers -- Azom
  • 3D Printer Recycles Milk Jugs -- Laboratory Equipment
  • RecycleBot: An open source recycling plant - Personolize
  • How Recycled Milk Jugs Can Make 3D Printing Cheaper and Greener - Green Optimistic
  • Your 3D Printer Could Eat Empty Milk Jugs Instead of Expensive Plastic -- Gizmodo,I4U
  • RecycleBot zet oud plastic om in grondstof voor 3d-prints - Tweakers (Dutch), DMorgan
  • La basura puede servir para imprimir en 3D - El Correo (Spanish)
AdaFruit Industries:3D Hangouts with Matt Griffin, Noe & Pedro Ruiz
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