What to Do with 3D Printer Waste?

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You have bought a 3D printer and maybe even create your own 3D model. What about the failed or unwanted prints? Perhaps you were calibrating the 3D printer or trying a new filament. Regardless of the reason, you need to know what to do with 3D printer waste. Here are some of the things that you can do with failed or unwanted prints. 

Things to Do with 3D Printer Waste


You can recycle failed 3D prints, but you have to consider the material it is made from. For instance, ABS can give off unpleasant fumes and chemicals. 3D prints made from ABS will almost always end up in landfills. Prints made from PLA, a biodegradable material, can be recycled. 

However, it can take hundreds of years for PLA to degrade if the right conditions are not met. PLA doesn’t produce nasty substances while degrading, but recycling providers may not take it because it can be hard to classify it from other plastics. 

Composting PLA accelerates the decomposition process of this material. You can compost PLA at home or in an industrial facility. Although doing it at home will take a long time, it’s still better than sending it to the landfill immediately. 

PLA waste should not be mixed with normal food waste, especially if your area has a municipal composting program. This material takes a long time to degrade, and it may also produce small amounts of heavy metal residues, so it’s not suitable for a commercial composting facility. 

If there’s PLA mixed into normal food waste, the facility will remove it from the compost and send it to the landfill. It is best that you keep 3D prints made from PLA in your own compost heap. 

Create Something New from Your 3D Printer Waste 

Combining different kinds of 3D printer waste is one of the best ways to recycle them. You only need tape or glue to make new figures out of your 3D printer waste. What you will create depends on the materials you have. For instance, if you print figures for tabletop fantasy RPGs, you already have everything you need. 

You can make 3D miniatures and physical terrain pieces. All you need to do is to melt down the 3D printer waste and shape them into new items. You can combine 3D prints of various colors to make multi-colored patterns or use only one color. You’re free to decide what items you’re going to make. Be creative, and just do what you want! 

Create Your Own ABS Juice

If you have ABS filament, you can melt it down with an acidic liquid to make ABS juice. You can mix a tiny piece of ABS and acetone to produce 3 different liquids with different uses. One of these is ABS juice, which you can use to stick parts to your bed. 

Another is ABS glue, which can be used to weld or glue 2 parts together. You can also make ABS Slurry, which you can use to fill in small gaps between parts. Just remember that acetone is a solvent, and if you are not careful with it, you could get injured. Acetone can cause skin irritation even if it’s extremely mild. Follow the recommended advice of the manufacturer regarding the use of acetone. 

Reprocess Failed Prints into a New Filament 

You can recycle all of your failed prints by reprocessing these parts into a new filament that can be printed again. This can be done by using a filament recycling machine, which you can make at home. It’s also called a filament extruder. This recycling workflow involves 3 steps. First, you have to smash the failed prints. After melting down and extruding the filament, you have to coil it onto a new reel. 

Smashing the failed prints into small pieces makes them easier and faster to melting down. The liquid plastic will be inserted through a tiny opening. Once it cools down, you can wrap it onto a new plastic reel. This process is a type of injection molding. Although this project is complicated, it will be worth it once you have a new filament. 

You already know what to do with 3D printer waste. These tips can help you deal with 3D printer waste and reduce waste plastic buildup. However, isn’t it better to prevent waste plastic buildup from occurring in the first place? Prototypes and failed prints are unavoidable sources of waste for those who are into 3D printing, but there are some things that you can do to avoid waste plastic buildup. 

  • Avoid printing too many components simultaneously because it increases the possibility of a print failing. If you made a mistake during the printing of one part, the consequences of this error will most likely carry over to the other parts and ruin them as well. This will mostly depend on your 3D printer setup and personal experience.
  • Reduce the amount of support. When you print with supports, the amount of waste you produce is also higher. Try to print without support as much as possible. You can also create minimalistic supports to reduce 3D printer waste. Using slicing software can help you reduce the amount of support manually.

Printing with a brim is another way to reduce 3D printer waste. Although printing with a raft is a good way to make sure that the component will adhere to the printer’s build surface, it uses a lot of material. It also takes a long time to remove a raft from the part.

If you are having adhesion issues, you can print with a brim or adjust the first layer height to solve the problem. Brims help components stick to the build surface, but use less plastic than rafts. They are easier to remove as well, so you can save time and effort. 

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