3D printers use a plastic filament which is heated continuously to print together the desired shape or object. The Legacy Filament Extruder Machine hopes to make this process more environmentally friendly by using recycled materials to make the plastic filaments.
The Open Source Desktop machine has a self-winding filament spool, so when users have the desired amount of filament they can cut the end and place the spool in the printer.
Founder Liz Havlin was inspired by a design by Hugh Lyman. Lyman had built an extruder that turned virgin plastic pellets into usable filament. The inexpensive machine would cost only $250 in parts. Together, they decided to redesign the machine to bring it to consumers.
Havlin was inspired to use their machine to help with the abundance of plastic sitting in oceans and on beaches. At first, they tried to put ground recycled plastic directly into the extruder. While it worked, the results were inconsistent because the plastic needs to be clean and dry to ensure that it won't jam the printer.
She then approached companies who sell performed plastic pellets made from recycled plastic. These companies agreed to trade their plastic pellets for the recycled materials collected by Havlin. This inspired her to set up collection sites, which she hopes to bring all 50 states and, eventually, worldwide. These sites would have people bring in their recycling to trade for credits that can be used to purchase pellets, filament or 3D printing services.
"Most important, there is the Open Source component. Being able to successfully bring Open Source hardware to the world is vitally important to improving the lives of people who depend on recycling plastic for income," Havlin writes on the Legacy Kickstarter page. "As the demand for Open Source 3D printers, supplies and software rises, supporting this Open Source - Ethical free trade filament project enables people all over the world to benefit from 3D printing."
Havlin is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Legacy, which has already more than doubled its goal of $5,000. The campaign is running until August 25, 2014.