Closing The Loop On Plastics: Filabot

I gave a talk last year called What Will Matter In The Future?. One thing I suggested to the entrepreneurial types at a Montreal startup conference was that we might start making everyday goods at home, with 3D printers using recycled plastic. 

Stowe Boyd, What Will Matter In The Future?

The frontiers of the future will the ruins of the unsustainable. – Bruce Sterling

Sterling’s tantalizingly bleak and oblique wisecrack has to be considered from the prospect of both real and virtual ruins.

Only 5% of the plastic from recycled plastic shopping bags is reused, because there is no demand. What if Makers start to reuse plastic bags in the home, in 3D printers? What if I could model and manufacture iPhone cases from those bags? Or planters? Or light shades? Or fruity-flavored condoms?

Well it turns out Tyler McVaney has gotten kickstarted on building the Filabot, which is a desktop plastic extrusion device. Basically it shreds various sorts of plastics, like the ones in soda bottles and milk jugs, melts them down, and turns them into the spools of plastic filament that serve as the most common input to 3D printers. Doesn’t look like plastic bags are an option, at this time, however.


McVaney’s been funded, so it just a matter of time before artisanal types will be making flip-flops, bricks, shower curtains, and iPhone cases out of plastic waste.

And all of a sudden, a revolution in recycling, happening at the micro scale, and empty milk cartons become an asset instead of waste.

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