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Recycled fridges deliver sustainable 3D printing

Plastic recovered from discarded fridges is being re-purposed into a resilient material that can be used in the 3D printing of scale models and similar outputs. The development follows a partnership between two Dutch specialist, Coolrec, a subsidiary of Renewi, and filament manufacturer Refil.

Refil already makes a range of different coloured filaments from recycled car dashboards and PET bottles. Now it is taking the interior of fridges supplied by e-scrap specialist Coolrec to make High Impact PolyStyrene (HIPS) filament that has a neutral off white colour which is easy to paint or glue, making it a perfect material for the 3D printing of scale models. The filament comes in the two standard diameters of 2.85mm and 1.75mm and has successfully been tested on 3D printers.

Sustainable products

The collaboration between Refil and Coolrec is seen a good example of two companies at the forefront of plastic recycling working together in their own field of expertise. Casper van der Meer, ceo of Refil, says: ‘Whereas Coolrec is all about the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment, Refil transforms these acquired plastics into filament and makes it available around the world.

‘Making recycled filament may seem easy, but getting a steady supply chain and maintaining a high quality over different batches is a real challenge. This is why it took us several years of development to be able to guarantee the quality of HIPS.’

Next step: televisions

Arjen Wittekoek, director of Coolrec, says: ‘Discarded appliances are made from and still contain many valuable materials. Using innovative techniques, Coolrec is able to recover the plastics from the discarded fridges. For us developing HIPS and the collaboration with Refil is another way to protect the world against pollution, preserve finite resources and enable our partners to achieve their sustainability targets.’

The filament is manufactured at a facility in Rotterdam and delivered to customers on a fully recyclable cardboard spool. Refil and Coolrec are also working on a black filament from the same type of plastic but using old televisions. It is expected to be available in the beginning of 2019.

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