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Sunhusky.png By Michigan Tech's Open Sustainability Technology Lab.

Wanted: Students to make a distributed future with solar-powered open-source 3-D printing.
Currently looking for PhD or MSC student interested in solar energy policy- apply now!
Contact Dr. Joshua Pearce - Apply here

MOST: Projects & Publications, Methods, Lit. reviews, People, Sponsors, News
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This page is part of an international project to use RepRap 3-D printing to make OSAT for sustainable development. Learn more.

Research: Open source 3-D printing of OSAT RecycleBot LCA of home recyclingGreen Distributed Recycling Ethical Filament LCA of distributed manufacturingRepRap LCA Energy and CO2 Solar-powered RepRapssolar powered recyclebot Feasibility hub Mechanical testingRepRap printing protocol: MOST‎ Lessons learnedMOST RepRap BuildMOST Prusa BuildMOST HS RepRap buildRepRap Print Server

Make me: Want to build a MOST RepRap? - Start here!Delta Build Overview:MOSTAthena Build OverviewMOST metal 3-D printer Humanitarian Crisis Response 3-D Printer

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

This OSAT has been designed but not yet tested - use at own risk.
This OSAT has been modeled.
This OSAT has been prototyped.
This OSAT has been verified by: MOST.

You can help Appropedia by contributing to the next step in this OSAT's status.

RepRapable Recyclebot: Open source 3-D printable extruder for converting plastic to 3-D printing filament[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: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ohx.2018.e00026 open access

  • Just the code: OSF

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.

Distributed Recycling of Waste Polymer into RepRap Feedstock[edit]


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


Purpose - 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 - 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 - 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.

3DPI.tv on Recycling with Recyclebot

Practical implications - 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 - 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.

Recyclebot evolution[edit]

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]

Recyclebot version 2.2[edit]

Recyclebot version 2.3[edit]

Recyclebot version 3.0[edit]

Recyclebot v4.0ac[edit]

  • Under final development now

Recyclebot v4.0dc[edit]

  • Under final development now

Recyclebot v4.1[edit]

Recyclebot v5.0[edit]

RepRapable Recyclebot[edit]

Other types of RecycleBots[edit]

Recyclebot and Friends Galley

Quick payback time calculation[edit]


  • 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]

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 [4]. 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.[5]. 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]

Perpetual Plastic Project

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


ProtoPrint employees waste pickers in India to use a FlakerBot and RefilBot that make HDPE waste into filament

Peer Reviewed articles covering recyclebot technology[edit]

Articles about the RecycleBot[edit]

The EKOCYCLE Cube 3D Printer - Prints in Post-consumer PET
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