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Entrepreneur in Seattle Takes Recycling to a Whole New Level


Many of you may have noticed that today’s 3D printers don’t actually take ink. Instead, they use colored plastic line, or filament, that gets converted into the amazing machines and objects that we’ve been talking about for some time.

But if you’re environmentally conscious, you may have noticed that it’s pretty difficult to come across recycled plastic to use in these 3D printers. Luckily, VentureBeat has reported that a young entrepreneur from Seattle has created a way to recycle plastic soda bottles into 3D printing filament.

Liz Havlin used her 3D printer to create parts for a machine she calls the Legacy. Designed by a Seattle experimenter named Hugh Lyman, the Legacy converts recycled plastic bottles into 3D printer filament and can be built for only about $250 in parts.

Now, this isn’t the first design for a machine to create your own 3D filament. As VentureBeat notes, Make magazine had a how-to on making your own 3D filament using an extruder called the Filabot recently. And the Filamaker is a filament-extruding machine that started as a DIY project and is now turning into a commercial device. However, Havlin and Lyman’s project is unique in its dedication to the recycling of plastic and to local ecosystem outreach.

The project is also designed with convenience in mind. “The Legacy includes a self-winding filament spool apparatus so when you have the amount of filament you need for your project, you simply snip the end and put the spool on your 3D printer,” says Havlin’s Kickstarter site.

VentureBeat also highlighted how Havlin is also doing her part to help out the community, working with a local center that provides employment for people with developmental disabilities and providing jobs for people who have trouble finding work. She’ll be sending her Legacy plastic extruder to India in a few months to help explore the possibilities for creating a worldwide recycling movement that’s based on the Legacy.

And she’s working with local businesses that will exchange recyclable bottles and other plastics for plastic pellets made of those recyclables. Once her business is up and running, a business will be able to collect plastics, exchange them for pellets, and Halvin will be able to use the pellets to produce ABS filament for 3D printers.

“My passion for 3D printing comes from the belief that manufacturing makes jobs,” says Halvin. And we couldn’t agree with her more! Manufacturing is certainly the right path for an exciting career that’s full of great causes and opportunities for young people to get involved in.

Who knows who will be the next entrepreneur to make a difference in the world? It just might be you.

Photo credit: Rick Pollack/Flickr via VentureBeat

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