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  1. #1

    Best abs shredder and filament extruder for me?

    We are looking to shred trawling fishing floats from beaches on our little island. We want to then turn the ABS plastic into filament for 3D printing. We would like some advice/input from anyone with experience shredding industrial ABS plastics and turning that into usable 3D printing filament. We are researching the best machinery for our needs so any input would be appreciated.
    image.jpgThis is the type of float we are looking to recycle.

  2. #2
    Staff Engineer
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    Good luck with that. A used fishing float is going to have all sorts of stuff - from barnacles to sand particles - stuck to it, so you'd need a way to separate all that out before you'd have anything that would have a chance of working as a 3D printing filament, which tends to clog up in the extruder even when made from virgin materials. It's also sensitive to moisture absorbtion, so you'd need to cook any water out as well and keep it dry. Even just breaking those things up into bite-sized chunks is going to be a challenge.

    While it's a great idea to clean up the beaches which are starting to be covered with plastic debris, 3D printing filament is about the last product that you should be considering making from it. Plastic lumber, for building decks or piers, would be a lot more feasible.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    Good luck with that. A used fishing float is going to have all sorts of stuff - from barnacles to sand particles - stuck to it, so you'd need a way to separate all that out before you'd have anything that would have a chance of working as a 3D printing filament, which tends to clog up in the extruder even when made from virgin materials. It's also sensitive to moisture absorbtion, so you'd need to cook any water out as well and keep it dry. Even just breaking those things up into bite-sized chunks is going to be a challenge.

    While it's a great idea to clean up the beaches which are starting to be covered with plastic debris, 3D printing filament is about the last product that you should be considering making from it. Plastic lumber, for building decks or piers, would be a lot more feasible.
    thanks for your feedback! So is it totally unfeasable to clean the plastic enough to extrude filament from it? 95 percent of the floats we find on the beach are barnacle and sand free. If it is possible to make the filament would that filament then be considered too tainted with waste to put through a 3D printer?

  4. #4
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    3D printing filament is probably the highest-value product you could hope to make with your recycled fishing floats. So it makes sense that you'd want to produce it, and sell it to those people who feel bad about all the plastic waste we're generating collectively, and want to be part of the solution. But you have to understand that 3D printing filament is also probably the most demanding use any thermoplastic is ever put to, and that it already fails frequently in normal use from mysterious causes that people here on this forum are used to pondering at length. Adding the odd particles of shell, algae and sand just doesn't seem like it's going to help.

    On the other hand, if it were easy, someone would have done it already. I don't want to discourage you altogether, but just to let you know what you're up against. If you come up with an effective pre-cleaning process, a way to filter out impurities and dehydrate your melted plastic batches, and could put it up into hermetically-sealed packaging, then sure - I suppose it could work, especially if you went for large-diameter filament that's less likely to choke on the occasional particle. It just seems that just about any other product you could make would be a lot easier to satisfy customers with.

    Andrew Werby
    www.computersculpture.com

  5. #5

    Other uses

    Thanks again gain for your reply. Very helpful indeed. The original idea was to just buy a shredder and send off the shredded material to a company to use the flakes and produce a product probably through injection mold that I could then sell to the tourists on our island. On a recent trip to Taiwan I saw a few 3D printers and thought it would be cool for the customer to see their purchase being made in front of their own eyes and hopefully inspiring them to see the value in recycled plastic waste and return maybe a few would take the idea home with them and try to clean up some of the seemingly value less waste lying around their part of the world. I guess I need to do a lot more research into the process of recycling abs plastics. Nonetheless the end game would be to recycle and produce all myself in one closed system. Again I really appreciate your extremely honest and helpful feedback!



    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    3D printing filament is probably the highest-value product you could hope to make with your recycled fishing floats. So it makes sense that you'd want to produce it, and sell it to those people who feel bad about all the plastic waste we're generating collectively, and want to be part of the solution. But you have to understand that 3D printing filament is also probably the most demanding use any thermoplastic is ever put to, and that it already fails frequently in normal use from mysterious causes that people here on this forum are used to pondering at length. Adding the odd particles of shell, algae and sand just doesn't seem like it's going to help.

    On the other hand, if it were easy, someone would have done it already. I don't want to discourage you altogether, but just to let you know what you're up against. If you come up with an effective pre-cleaning process, a way to filter out impurities and dehydrate your melted plastic batches, and could put it up into hermetically-sealed packaging, then sure - I suppose it could work, especially if you went for large-diameter filament that's less likely to choke on the occasional particle. It just seems that just about any other product you could make would be a lot easier to satisfy customers with.

    Andrew Werby
    www.computersculpture.com

  6. #6
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    One way you could do this - and while not simple, should produce a fairly pure product.

    shred the floats and then dissolve the plastic in acetone. Pass the solution through a very fine sieve, probably don't need a molecular sieve, coffee fiter level ought to do it.
    Then evaporate and recover the acetone and you should be left with a fairly pure block of abs that could be turned into printer filament.

    Now acetone is dangerous stuff. You don't want to breathe too much in and it's also highly flammable.
    So this isn't a process you could safely do in the equivalent of a garden shed.

    But if you used the right equipment, and used solar power to warm the solution to recover the acetone (it evaporates at low temps. so heating the solution to around 40c would force the acetone off pretty quickly.
    You could also use solar power for the agitator in the vat where the abs is added to the acetone and dissolved.

    Get it right and you could end up with a near closed system that constantly reused the same acetone.
    You would have to add a little extra acetone every now and then, but your main consumable woud just be the filters.

    That's how I'd do it.

  7. #7
    Engineer ralphzoontjens's Avatar
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    Great idea! The thing with recycling plastics is that when you regrind them, polymer chains are broken and you have to add at least 20% virgin pellets to ensure good quality. The more often it is regrinded the less mechanical quality it will have. For dehydration the simplest thing is to have the ground up plastic sit in sealed buckets on a bed of rice for a few weeks. A filamaker and filastruder will get you a long way for equipment. For smaller products, consider that also a paper shredder with Cross-Cut system works for grinding plastic.

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