Co-oproduct won the 'Responsible Waste Management' award at this years’ RSA accredited Sustainable City Awards for their ‘Closed Loop: 3D Printing from Plastic Packaging Waste’ project in collaboration with Nestlé Research and NTU. The Awards Ceremony was held in Mansion House London on the 23rd March and hosted by entrepreneur, TV personality, and conservationist Lloyd Grossman.
During the period Jan 2014 - April 2014, Co-oproduct carried out a very short 3 Month feasibility project, exploring the possibilities of 3D Printing from waste plastic, with support from the Technology Strategy Board, Nestlé Research, Nottingham Trent University; ‘Working With You' and The Hive.
Co-oproduct Co-Founder Jamie Billing and NTU’s Senior Technician Kerry Truman, carried out the initial tests after modifying a Noztek filament extruder and building an open source RepRap 3D Printer. Jamie and Kerry were successful in 3D Printing from Polypropylene (PP) pellets made from waste packaging, as well as other waste packaging plastics; of which Co-oproduct believe to be the first documented evidence.
Jamie Billing said: “PP is a fantastic material which is commonly used very widely in all sorts of packaging and other products. If managed properly, research suggests that it might be re-processed up to 7 times, however we expect that most of todays post-consumer PP ends up in Landfill after its first life, which is why we wanted to explore ways of reusing it”.
Describing the potential use of PP in Co-oproduct’s recent 3D Printing project, Jamie says: “3D Printing from PP is a difficult challenge, since the plastic has a ‘memory’ and likes to return back to its previous state, when it cools. You need to heat PP if you want to 3D print from it and as it cools on a 3D print bed, it has the desire to ‘warp’ and ‘shrink’, which makes it very difficult to build on. However, we discovered that there are ways of ‘stabalising’ PP so that it doesn’t warp and shrink, both during initial extrusion into filament and during the actual printing process”.
Results from Co-oproduct’s independent LCA carried out by Econolist Ltd in March 2013, indicated that their proposed closed loop reuse of PP packaging via 3D Printing, could potentially use 20 MJ less energy and 50% less water per 1Kg than the current, most popular 3D printing solution.