Awesome Stuff: A Recycling 3D Pen

from the repurposed-plastic dept

Three years ago, the 3Doodler pen became a huge hit on Kickstarter, and for a brief period it seemed like these handheld 3D printing tools might be the next big gadget. But after that initial rush, they never fully took off, and not everyone was satisfied with the performance of the pen itself. Nevertheless, the idea is a compelling one, so for this week’s Awesome Stuff we’re taking a look at an interesting new offering with an important twist: the Renegade pen.

So what’s the key innovation that makes the Renegade interesting? Simple: instead of feeding off of normal 3D printer filament, it prints by recycling the material from any old plastic bottle.

Normal 3D printing is a slow, precise process — most pieces are thoroughly designed and tested in digital form, and iterated as little as possible in printed physical form. But 3D drawing with a freehand pen is a much looser exercise: it’s only fun if you can experiment and mess around, and that burns through a whole lot of filament. The Renegade comes with a special cutting tool that lets you quickly and easily cut any bottle into long strips of plastic that feed into the pen, replacing expensive filament and diverting some garbage to a more useful purpose. It can also work with plastic shopping bags and other odds and ends like plastic file folders.

The creators have a working prototype, but of course it remains to be seen just how satisfying and fun it will be to use once it’s actually in your hands — 3D pens probably still have a little ways to go before they are truly viable as a general-use tool or toy. But if you’re interested in the technology and want a chance to try it out, the Renegade might just be the smartest and most cost effective way to do so.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: A Recycling 3D Pen”

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Darkhog says:

Really cool, but most of bottled stuff I am drinking comes in clear bottles which as you may think aren’t a very good choice for such tool. And buying non-clear bottled drinks just to use them for this, misses the point of the exercise. So unless it can take both filament and bottles or there is a way to “colorize” clear PET bottles as they are being melted down, I don’t think I’m going to buy it. Will also leave the same comment on project’s page.

Pete Austin says:

Are all 3D Pens this slow?

Cool idea, but the brief example of 3D Drawing at the start of the video looks extremely slow. I wouldn’t have the time or patience.

10x faster might work better.

I’ve seen other videos of pens that looked much faster, but it occurs to me that maybe they were edited to speed them up. Does anyone have practical experience of using these pens for a real task?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Are all 3D Pens this slow?

The main issue is that plastic is a very poor thermal conductor, which makes it slow to melt, and slow to harden again. Meting speed cannot be increased by increasing temperature as this causes the plastic to decompose. While injection molding machines get a reasonable melt rate, they do so by forcing the plastic pellets in a decreasing gap, which squeezes the molten plastic and forces the solid surface against the hot walls. Doing so requires higher pressures than are obtainable in a pen, or 3d printer hot end, where the plastic is also the piston.
One use I can see for these pens is as an extruder to turn a CNC router into a 3d printer, and could be a start to 3d printing for those who have such machines.

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