3D printing is a new technology and there are so many prospects hidden in its lap, which are yet to be revealed and learnt. This process of making a 3D object of any shape from a model or any electronic data is growing by leap and bounds.
All around the world people are inventing new methods and technologies to make the process more efficient. 3D printing saves wastage of material by stacking up layer by layer but 3D printing industry is currently unsustainable because of the material used.
Companies like Protoprint from Pune, India are a right step in ‘Ethical’ 3D printing.
Protoprint is a social enterprise which helps the local ‘waste pickers’ or ‘rag pickers’ to convert waste plastic into 3D printer filament (material which is deposited layer by layer). The filament produced is a recycled alternative to the commonly used materials as a filament, at a viable price. Thus they are producing the World’s First Fair Trade 3D Printing Filament.
Protoprint was founded in 2013 by Sidhant Pai, an environmental engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Pai describes on his website, “There are over 2 million waste pickers in India that spend their days trawling through garbage, separating plastic waste from organic waste. Unfortunately, they earn very little for the important work that they do. We partner with waste picker cooperatives and set up filament labs at dumpsites to process the plastic waste. At these sites, we train waste pickers to use low cost technology to scan, clean, shred, and extrude the plastic into 3D printer filament.”
The pickers can now sell waste plastic to Protoprint and earn about fifteen times more profit by helping the society and themselves. Middle-men dealers buy the same plastic at an extremely low price.
In addition to the sale of our filament, they work with organizations and institutions in India to set up affordable 3D printing facilities for their students and professionals. The lab where the waste pickers bring their scrape plastics is equipped with a ‘FlakerBot’ for shredding plastic and a ‘RefilBot’ for converting the shredded plastic into filament. Creating filament from waste plastics is more complex than it might initially seem.
Protoprint filament will be marketed globally, and available till the end of year in both 3mm and 1.75mm variations. Protoprint works in a partnership with SWaCH (a local waste picker co-operative) since 2011.
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