Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
For a number of reasons, 3D printers have rapidly become very popular among industries, and have held even greater promises for the future. 3D printers use an additive process, where adding layers of a successive material that is usually plastic, to create an object. Nowadays, 3D printers are easily accessible, and many individuals have one in their homes. The key benefits of 3D printers are that you can conveniently manufacture your own personal designs to an actual prototype more quickly and efficiently. They are also being used to customize human body parts and organs, and even homes are being 3D printed, the list goes on. There is without a doubt that 3D printers have a large positive effect on the environment. “There are huge potential time, labor, and transportation savings, as well as resource conservation, energy conservation, and decreased pollution. It is associated with a strong lowering of financial and energy resource inputs into production processes, which decreases product costs and mitigates CO2 emissions. Resource demands, and process-related waste amounts can be significantly lowered as the technology applies additive means of production”.
My first time working with a 3D printer was last semester, Spring 2019. We were assigned a project to reverse engineer a broken part and to design and 3D print the pieces to repair the part. Luckily, the sliding door in our living room had a large missing piece from the steel frame. Prior to the project, we had no intentions of repairing the door since it would be too costly and would require us to install a completely new frame. Thankfully, I was able to successfully design a piece to repair our door, all of which took only a few hours. As a result, we saved a great deal of money and time. This specific project made me realize how resourceful and convenient 3D Printers are, and that I am able to repair many issues in my home with a 3D printer. However, I ran into some issues where printed parts would shrink during the process of drying. So, unfortunately, a good number of plastic filaments that were made of Polylactic Acid (PLA), was wasted and thrown away. This is a very common issue for 3D printer users. Many different materials can be used for 3D printing, such as ABS plastic, PLA, polyamide (nylon), glass filled polyamide, stereolithography materials (epoxy resins), silver, titanium, steel, wax, photopolymers, and polycarbonate. Fortunately, my PLA filament that was used is considered one of the less costly materials. However, it would be unfortunate for those who use the costlier materials that go to waste. The project that my team and I are currently working on is a portable 3D printer filament maker. This filament maker will be able to shred any used plastic materials and transform it into a usable 3D printer filament. Since it is a very common issue for 3D printer users to have failed or unwanted printed parts, this project will have a large positive impact on 3D printer users. The filament maker will also have a positive environmental impact since it will do its part in minimizing plastic pollution and waste. Our beautiful planet earth has filled with a great deal of garbage, especially plastic waste. It has been an ongoing problem where solid waste production is something we, as humans, create every day. Plastic waste has been one of the biggest problems that we’re facing today, and our waste is continuously piling up and accumulating. The obvious solution to protect our planet is recycling. According to a recent study, “recycling plastics can also be viewed as a big business because of its potential environmental benefits and economic profits. However, about 6300 million metric tons of plastic waste have been generated until 2015, and only 9% of them are recycled, 12% are incinerated, and 79% are discarded.”
When thinking about the huge amount of plastics we produce and the problems that surface with the disposal of plastic, it makes sense to reuse or recycle everything we can. Recycled plastic can decrease the number of pollutants in the air and water. The 3D printer filament maker will assist in reducing all significant environmental impacts by promoting convenience, resource conservation, energy conservation, and decreased pollution.