3D printing is incredibly cool tech, but I've always been a bit bothered by all the plastic. Giving people the tools and power to create at home has led to amazing imaginative creations like this printed Cities: Skylines square, or these helpful adaptive controllers. But it still has the potential to encourage more plastic waste, and we don't really need that as a global community.
This is why it's always exciting to see people get into 3D printing with more sustainable materials. We've seen printers that can make amazing shapes with delicious chocolate, and have heard the promise of ceramics being printed with waste products. Now settle in to watch one thrifty crafter go from a plastic bottle to folding Raspberry Pi case right before your eyes.
Function.3d on TikTok shares a video of the project complete with calming backing instrumental thanks to Mozart. The video shows off the entire process, starting with what looks like a fairly normal large green plastic bottle. There's a fair amount of work getting from this bottle to tiny computer case, which the 3 minute 41 second video demonstrates.
First it looks like the bottle is prepped thoroughly, which starts with a nice warming by the fire and then a vigorous rubdown with solvent. Once finished, the bottom is cut off and we never hear from them again. Given these are often made of thicker plastic it could be too difficult to work with this piece. A slit is cut into the remaining bottle, giving a small strip of plastic which is then hand pulled through a rig. This turns the remaining bulk of the bottle into a long, thin strip of plastic, but it's not ready to become filament just yet.
Next up, it's attached to another machine which looks like it's heating the strip and shaping it. This originally has to be pulled through by hand but after the initial setup it looks like they can let the machine take over, which also spools the thread loosely onto a large bobbin.
This bobbin isn't good enough, though, and so the new filament is transferred to a different one to be loaded onto the 3D printing machine. This spits out a nice little 3D printed case for the Raspberry Pi, which looks really nice in that bottle green colour. Plus, no new plastic was required for this little project which is always great.
Watching this video has given me the distinct impression that this process takes a fair amount of time and effort, especially if you want to get a decent amount of printing material. Still, this is one of the first DIY recycling processes I've seen that actually looks feasible for individuals, and Function.3D is kind enough to put tons of information about the process including tutorials in their FAQs. They make note that they're not the first to try this process, and that they've worked hard to make this design thanks to the inspiration from other projects.