APR 23, 2019 7:50 PM PDT

Gigabot X: An Environmentally Conscious 3D Printer

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Fused particle fabrication (FPF) can change the manufacturing of outdoor sporting goods like Kayak paddles, snowshoes, and skateboards.

Recyclable feedstock takes plastic that otherwise would have been wasted and turns it into 3D printed products using fused particle fabrication (FPF). Large prints like skateboards are tricky for smaller 3D printing set-ups, but the Gigabot X produces them in hours. Credit: Nathan Shaiyen/Michigan Tech

In a study published in Additive Manufacturing, researchers from Michigan Technological University developed an open source industrial FPF 3D printer called Gigabot X. The printer will utilize waste particles and reform it into large, strong prints.

Recyclable feedstock takes plastic that otherwise would have been wasted and turns it into 3D printed products. Credit: Michigan Tech

"This isn't a gadget to make toys for your kids; this is an industrial machine meant to make real, large, high-performance products. With well over 1,000 Fab Labs worldwide spreading fast and morphing into environmentally friendly 'green fab labs', the Gigabot X could be a useful tool to add to their services as well as other makerspaces," said Joshua Pearce, Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "Of course, for our testing we wanted to use recycled plastic."

"Once the capital costs are taken care of, which can often be less than a year, FPF or FGF machines have an enormous potential to make profit. Economically, they absolutely make sense," said Pearce. "The bottom line is that Gigabot Xs pay for themselves under a reasonable load and provide double or triple digit returns on investment under most scenarios. Essentially, if you're using it more than once a week then you're making money easily."

Source: Michigan Tech

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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