A top-down view of the ribbon cutter, extruder, filament, and 3D printer.
The plastic ribbon and loading into the extruder.
Finished 3D printer filament created exclusively from recycled bottles.
Each stage of plastic in this project, from bottle to ribbon to filament.
Power supply, thermistor and heating element drivers, and 3D printer.
The motor mechanism responsible for pulling the finished filament out of the extruder.
The cutting device made from bearings that is used to create plastic ribbons.
Using the cutting device made from bearings that is used to create plastic ribbons.
Water bottles are a significant source of waste. According to the Container Recycling Institute, billions of water bottles end up in landfills each year. This is problematic because plastic is highly resistant to biodegradation; bottles accumulate over time, creating an unsustainable condition. We wanted to find a way to turn plastic waste into an asset, recycling it to reduce the need for landfills.
What it does
For our project, we successfully created 3D printer filament out of water bottles. The water bottles were turned into filament by cutting them in a spiral and then drawing them through a modified hot end using a continuous motor. Our project also includes a web interface which allows one to view the filament creation and printing process.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
One significant challenge we ran into was caused by an unpredictable temperature controller. In order to produce the filament, we needed very tight regulation of the temperature of the hot end. Because the controller was not working well, we had difficulty maintaining the correct temperature. This created problems later, where the axle stripped the spool because the temperature of the hot end was too low. Transmitting video frames from the ESP32-CAM to a server to a browser was also difficult, where many interconnected components needed to work together to produce a video stream.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- Successfully sliced water bottle into thin strips using ball bearings
- Modified hot end to increase temperature and melt PET
- Created 3D printer filament out of a water bottle
- Created a real time camera stream for viewing the 3D printer online
What we learned
- How to use Google Cloud to set up compute resources
- How to program a temperature controller
- Recycling plastic is difficult and involves many mechanical challenges
What's next for Code Green
- Remote printer control
- Print with water bottle filament (using hotter printer)
- Filament usage detection and notifications
- Automate filament generation process