Where Does Our Plastic Waste Come From?
The plastic waste used in our products at The Erde come from the byproducts of the 3D printing manufacturing process by our parent company, Siege Advanced Manufacturing. While there are many efforts worldwide to create a more sustainable 3D printing process, it currently still generates waste. Here are the main points in the 3D printing process that produces these waste:
Insufficient Remaining Material
3D printing material oftentimes come in 1kg rolls, called filament. As 3D printing is a highly customised manufacturing method, nearly every item we produce uses up a different amount of material. This leads to some leftover material on the rolls - too little to be used for the next print, yet too much to be thrown away (the waste builds up!).
We currently use these waste for the products we make at The Erde, as it is generally of a standard size and still not too difficult to break down. Some other waste generated by the additive manufacturing process are much harder to treat, which will be elaborated below.
Redundant Support Materials
(Warning: It gets a little technical here!) When a 3D design does not lie fully on the print bed, this creates something called an overhang, and this is very common. When that happens, support material usually needs to be printed for the overhangs to rest on. The overhangs typically cannot be printed without supports as gravity does not allow the overhang to be printed in mid-air.
These support materials need to be removed after the print is finished, and is redundant after being taken out. Supports differ greatly in size and pattern, depending on the 3D design it was for.
Incomplete or Failed Prints
As the 3D printing technology is still relatively new and modern as compared to other manufacturing methods, it is still very prone to errors. Many factors can cause a print to fail halfway. This results in incomplete prints that cannot be used and need to be discarded of.
This happens very frequently in the 3D printing world, and is one of the harder waste to be recycled. Due to its printed form, it is usually much, much sturdier than the original filament or support material, and is very difficult to be broken down into smaller pieces.
Random Lumping or Strands
Due to many factors similar to above, the 3D printing material may get clogged and lump up, or spiral out of the nozzle. This leads to very random clumps of plastic waste that look terrible and are totally redundant.
Although the strands are still fairly easy to be broken down, the lumps are a huge problem. These are super dense, very hard clumps that were melted down and merged together. Similar to the incomplete prints, these are very difficult to be broken down into smaller pieces.
Now you know more about where our plastic waste come from! Rest assure that we will not open new filament rolls just to manufacture products for The Erde. As it is, there are already a ton of waste material that we need to work with. Our reason for creating The Erde is to hopefully lessen the impact that our 3D printing processes at Siege Advanced Manufacturing has on the environment, so we promise that we do not use any new 3D printing plastic for Erde's products. If, and when the waste material runs out, the repurposed item at Erde will be out of stock.