Dec 12, 2016 | By Julia

A forward thinking additive manufacturing company in Santa Barbara has become a new contender in the field of green 3D printing. Last week, ALT LLC announced its new Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for producing high performance, recycled 3D printing filament made from everyday plastic waste. The campaign is expected to launch later this month.

ALT, which operates a 3D printing service as well as providing design, fabrication, and consultation services, was on our radar just last month for developing a new silicone 3D printing process. Since then, the California-based company has decided to crack down on waste.

A press release explains that “after purchasing roll after roll of plastic filament, ALT realized that, although AM [Additive Manufacturing] offers many environmental benefits over standard manufacturing, they were still introducing virgin plastic into the waste stream in Santa Barbara.” The company is now proud to announce it will be doing business a new way, by offering recycled and recyclable products to the 3D printing community.

And not a moment too soon. Recent studies have shown that in the US, only 9% of post-consumer plastic was recycled in 2012, leaving a whopping 32 million tons discarded in landfills. California lawmakers have subsequently taken action, setting a new target for the state to recycle 75% of its waste by 2020.

ALT has been quick to jump on board, hoping to dramatically transform manufacturing in California by reducing the amount of plastic debris that ends up in landfills, waterways and oceans. Their solution? “Sourcing the plastic waste used to make filament from local California waste collection facilities,” the company says.

ALT's headquarters in Santa Barbara, California

Previously, we’ve seen similar initiatives undertaken by companies like Filabot, whose successful 2012 Kickstarter campaign led to the development and retail of an environmentally conscious filament maker: a machine that grinds up and melts recyclable plastics which are then extruded as filament for 3D printers.

Yet whereas Filabot has made waves with an international audience, ALT’s focus is considerably more local. The Santa Barbara-based company will be gearing its upcoming Indiegogo campaign specifically toward the 3D printing market in California.

Moreover, ALT’s campaign sets itself apart from competitors on a material level. “While several companies use plastic water bottles to make PET 3D printing filament, ALT wants to tackle the plastic that makes up the largest amount [of] waste and that rarely gets recycled,” the company reports.

The key is in the details. ALT’s recycled, made-in-house 3D printing filament is produced from a class of polymers called Polyolefins. This includes common common plastics like Polypropylene, Low-Density Polyethylene, and High-Density Polyethylene typically used to make bottle caps, milk jugs, plastic bags, and other easily discarded products with a short life span.

Collectively, polyolefins make up nearly half the plastic being used on the planet today. But as ALT asserts, they also constitute a massively untapped resource for additive manufacturing, as “the perfect material for 3D printing.” The company explains, “both high and low-density polyethylene are desirable due to their flexibility, toughness, ability to withstand high temperatures (>80C), and their impact, moisture and chemical resistance. Polypropylene is similar, but has a higher thermal resistance enabling it to withstand the heat of an autoclave.”

If successful, the campaign could impact a lot more than just company sales. ALT has declared it hopes to revolutionize manufacturing in California by inspiring other local engineering firms to adopt green practices.

The Indiegogo campaign is set to launch in late December. In the meantime, you can sign up for updates here.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

 

 

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