New factory at Lane Cove turns e-waste into 3D printer feedstock


UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT) and IT asset management company Renew IT have announced that a new factory has begun turning hard plastics from e-waste into 3D printing feedstock.

A Plastics Filament MICROfactorie module, developed by UNSW Sydney researchers, has been installed at Renew IT’s warehouse in Lane Cove, on Sydney’s lower north shore.

Asset managed services business Renew IT said that the new venture addressed the twin wicked issues of cutting virgin plastic production and keeping hard plastic waste out of landfill.

“Electronic goods like televisions, computers and printers are being produced in ever-increasing numbers and often with increasingly short life-cycles, when they do reach end of life, the waste industry’s solution has been to deliver them to landfill,” said the company’s CEO and founder James Lancaster in a statement on Monday.

“To re-purpose that plastic into a new product that’s increasingly in demand and which we can sell at a competitive price is a beautiful solution.”

Commercialising the technology had “taken a lot of time and effort,” said UNSW SMaRT Centre Founder and Director, Professor Veena Sahajwalla, though now has the potential to revolutionise the manufacture of 3D printer filaments.

“We’re turning the hard plastics found in all modern electronic hardware but not subject to conventional recycling methods, into feedstock for a booming sector,” added Sahajwalla.

“Filament is almost entirely imported to Australia and made from petrochemicals, so being able to locally make it from used plastics also reduces the environmental impacts from global freight.”

According to the SMaRT Centre, MICROfactorie is a modular approach for creating high-value materials and products from various waste streams.

SMaRT is developing this concept to create products such as green aluminium, green metals, and acoustic panels from waste.

Picture: credit Youtube/UNSW

Further reading

Jamestrong plans to recycle aluminium aerosol cans

Executive Director appointed at Trailblazer for Recycling and Clean Energy

Technologies and tools for a manufacturing transformation: Waste streams as resource deposits can change the game by Professor Veena Sahajwalla

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