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Print Up!

Project details from our November 2017 visit to Nepal
Tie the Trash Plastic solution

The 3D designing and making.

We have already begun developing a process which will let us go from plastic waste - single-use water bottles, hair care bottles, food containers, scraps - to 3D Filament, (the material that is used in 3D printers, aka ‘3D Ink&rsquoWinking. This 3D Ink is then used to build whatever the end-user wishes via 3D printing.

The project brings together ideas about manufacturing, entrepreneurship, rapid prototyping, resource management, chemistry, physics, engineering and art, to foster the next positive steps towards a healthy environment for all living things.

In Nepal, To date:

In November, 2017, we carried a full-sized 3D printer, (this one was manufactured by
XYZ Printing, the ‘da Vinci Mini w&rsquoWinking, and two 3D pens, (small, hand-held plastic extruders that allow one to draw dimensionally), as well as three spools of recycled 3D ink from company Filamentive that has already developed a thriving business around recycling waste plastic into this 3D ink.

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There was mechanical and device failure in that our selected printer, the ‘da Vinci Mini w’, used proprietary spools and 3D ink which can only be replenished by that manufacturer.


After we exhausted the supplied filament that shipped with the printer, (in the middle of a massive public demonstration in a heritage museum in Patan Durbar Square), it ‘bricked’ and will not run again until we supply it with a new, company-branded spool of their filament.

This was a surprise to us and did force us to abandon having a 3D printing instructional workshop at Vajra Academy until we could ‘hack’ the issue to our advantage and use our own filament.

(We will bring a filament-neutral printer w/ us in March -
like my little M3D micro plus printer - to exchange the original and continue with instruction)


The other parts of our process, including transforming the plastic waste into filament,
represent an on-going effort of technology transfer and finding the local skills and resources to build certain machines to accomplish the task.

Three particular machines are need to complete the process cycle:
  1. A shredder
  2. An extruder
  3. A spooler

  1. A shredding machine. Built of machine-steel blades, an electric motor, and welded components based on plans from engineer Dave harkens. This machines grinds large plastic parts into small, pellet-sized chunks.
  2. An extruding machine. This unit has a hopper on top and collects the pellet-sized plastic in a reservoir where it is forced along a heated tube, emerging from a nozzle of a certain diameter. It emerges from the hot tip of the extruder as a line, or string, of plastic. This extruded plastic is the 3D ink.
  3. To ensure the extruded string of plastic is gathered and stored correctly, a filament spooler is required. There are several companies that produce these machines fully assembled.

Open source schematics, tutorial instruction, and resources to build certain plastic recycling machines are available at Dutch-based endeavor
Precious Plastics.

We have made contact with two other teams in Nepal who have similar aspirations: clean the environment of polluting plastic & transform that plastic back into something useful.
Avoiding burning of plastic at all costs. Creating livelihood enhancements and opportunities for young people across the valley and into the mountains.

The key learning point of our exercise is that waste is as much of an opportunity as it is a burden on society. We hope to inspire critical thinking, and creative innovations, via our demonstrations and efforts towards this point.

Thank you for your time and support!
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