Every day, a huge amount of plastic waste is generated in cities. It is even estimated that plastics represent about 25% (0,5m3/year/capita) of the total volume of domestic waste (City of Amsterdam, 2015, p. 21). This is a lot! What if we could reduce this tremendous volume of discarded materials by transforming them into valuable products with 3D-printing? The last few days we have come a few steps closer to turn this concept into reality, by testing in Amsterdam North!
The first step was to identify the major plastic waste streams in Amsterdam North. After consulting with Afval- en Energiebedrijf Amsterdam (AEB) we decided to focus on household plastic waste and work with four types of plastic that are commonly used for packaging: PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP. The types were selected not only because of their ability to be recycled but also because of their expected impact on the volume reduction of the total waste production in Amsterdam North.
In parallel, we tried to understand the challenges of 3D-prinitng with discarded plastics in a hands-on manner! So we collected plastic waste from selected locations in Amsterdam North and put our concept to the test. To achieve good results in recycling it is important to sort plastics according to type and also wash them to eliminate contamination. This turned out to be a labor-intensive and dirty process… We shredded our “plastic-waste-collection” at the recycling facilities of TU Delft who hosted us for a few days. As a next step, the shredded pieces were tested in the extruder of KamerMaker – a large-scale 3D-printer located in Amsterdam North. Aside different types of plastic, a numerous settings were tested in order to improve the extrusion properties of 3D-printing. This is a very important step before starting the production of large-scale components.
Stay tuned to find out which of the four types of plastic is the best for 3d-printing in large scale!
Foteini Setaki, PhD researcher, TU Delft (firstname.lastname@example.org)