The Story of The Erde
‘Erde’ is the german word for ‘Earth’. The people behind The Erde Co are also founders of a 3D printing company, Siege Advanced Manufacturing. Erde was born out of necessity to repurpose the plastic waste generated from the 3D printing process.
As with nearly all manufacturing processes, 3D printing generates waste. Much of this waste is polymer (ie. plastic) material. We wanted to repurpose these waste materials into practical, useful items once again, creating a circular economy and increasing the productivity of these materials.
With The Erde Co, we hope to reduce the environmental impact that our manufacturing processes have, and encourage sustainability. And by wearing Erde’s products, we hope that you will be constantly reminded to show some love to our planet too.
Are there other ways of recycling the plastic waste from 3D printing?
In our products, we mostly use the polylactic acid (PLA) material, as that is the most common 3D printing material and hence, the material with the highest waste generated.
PLA is commonly promoted as an environmentally friendly material, due to cornstarch being it’s base ingredient. However, it is merely more environmentally friendly than its counterparts, but it is still very difficult to recycle. It is classified as a number 7 plastic, or ‘Other’, which means it belongs to the category of a combination of plastics and is typically non-recyclable. Decomposition of PLA requires a highly controlled environment with a specific enzyme.
There is also work done to melt down these plastics back into 3D printing filament. However, due to impurities, the properties of these recycled filament are usually unknown and compromises on the manufacturing quality.
Why do you still 3D print?
3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing, where an item is manufactured by adding material to it. Other forms of manufacturing include subtractive manufacturing, where you take a block of material and remove material from the block to form the shape. Either way, waste is generated, although which produces more is still debatable.
Being a modern technology, its users are more eco-minded and there is much R&D going on to strive towards a greener future.
3D printing is also an up and coming technology because it is able to manufacture designs that traditional manufacturing simply cannot due to technical reasons. Other times, it helps save a lot of time for certain processes. For example, architects no longer need to slowly build their models by hand. With a 3D file, they can leave it to a 3D printer to print their structures for them.
It is thus a technology with much potential, but as with any other processes, requires continual R&D to further improve it.