Coca-Cola and Will.i.am's 3D printer
uses recycled bottles as filament

| 12 comments
More:
 

Drinks brand Coca-Cola and musician Will.i.am have developed a 3D printer that produces objects using filament made from recycled plastic bottles.

Ekocycle by will.i.am and 3D Systems

The Ekocycle 3D printer was created as a collaboration between drinks brand Coca-Cola and Will.i.am, who is also chief creative officer at technology company 3D Systems.



"As humans we create hundreds of millions of tonnes of waste every year," says the Black Eyed Peas frontman in a promotional video for the product. "A lot of it is cheap PET plastic."

Ekocycle by will.i.am and 3D Systems

The white and red desktop machine prints users' designs with filament cartridges in a range of colours made from recycled PET plastic.

"This machine prints in post-consumer plastic," Will.i.am says. "This means that you can take [a] water bottle and print bracelets, robots, vases and shoes."

Ekocycle by will.i.am and 3D Systems

One cartridge contains 25 per cent post-consumer recycled materials – the equivalent of three 568-millilitre PET plastic bottles.

Ekocycle also features a colour touch-screen interface embedded into the top of the chassis.

Ekocycle-by-will.i.am-and-3D-Systems_dezeen_468_3
Will.i.am presents the Ekocycle 3D printer

3D Systems appointed Will.i.am as its chief creative officer in January, with the goal to "mainstream 3D printing". This followed the company's 2011 acquisition of Freedom of Creation – one of the first design studios to experiment with 3D printing.

Janne Kyttanen, co-founder of Freedom of Creation and 3D Systems creative director, previously told Dezeen he believes that one day everyone will have easy access to 3D printing, and that people will become more interested in printing objects than buying them. Since then, 3D Systems has also launched the world's first 3D printers for food and a handheld 3D scanner.

  • Julie Reece

    Even more eco-friendly (as well as safer and more affordable) are the Mcor Technologies’ 3D printers that use ordinary copy paper as the build material, and in full, realistic colour. Everything is fully recyclable, no particle emissions, etc.

    • Pretendgineer

      They’re not really more eco-friendly. Essentially you need a cuboid of 297×210 x height to build ANYTHING within that volume, no matter how small. That’s a lot of paper. That’s a lot of waste. If you want to build anything above that it goes up to 420×297 x height and so on by paper size.

      Sure, it can be recycled, but that’s an industrial process that costs money and resources. The machines themselves are probably faster than the ones I’ve used, but I’ve found them loud and slow. The parts are also next to useless as functional things.

      What I would like to see is this Coca-Cola concept taken a step further with either a higher content of recycled material or a seperate/integral recycler that churns your own used bottles into usable granules or filament at home. I don’t want to use recycled materials that have to travel to and from some obscure location and that are only 25% recycled. It’s a greenwashing exercise, and not a very good one at that. It also builds a dependency on Coke or whoever they use to supply these “cartridges”, as I’m sure they’ll DRM them to form a monopoly.

  • Arjay Cee

    Greenwashing for an industry that ruinously fills landscapes with its PET bottles. Not surprised to see an equally disposable pop celebrity fronting it.

  • Julie Reece

    That’s actually incorrect information. Here are the facts:

    The maximum amount of paper is 3 reams. With the Mcor printer, you can stack and nest parts in the build chamber, greatly minimising any excess paper. All of the material is completely recyclable.

    Regardless of any wasted paper in the environment, I’d much prefer wasted paper than wasted expensive plastic.

    I’m not sure which industrial resources you refer to. It only takes one person to run an Mcor printer, and because it emits no particles, nor does it use any toxic materials, it requires no special facilities or removal systems. It can be placed safely right in the office or classroom.

    The 3D printed models are actually incredibly strong and durable. They actually resemble wood. They don’t warp with time or temperature like plastic. In addition, they can be dipped in non-toxic materials if desired after printing to make them water resistant and fully functional. See: http://www.mcortechnologies.com/think-paper-3d-printed-models-are-flimsy-think-again/

    In fact, Mcor has customers using the technology in service bureaus, including Staples, for final products.

    The Mcor machines are very quiet and are faster than FDM machines for many geometries. A product enhancement earlier this year increased the speed 2X.

    • Pretendgineer

      My apologies for any incorrect info, the MCOR machine I’ve used is quite old at this stage. In the Applied Technologies lab at my college (Dublin Institute of Technology) the MCOR unit is rarely used due to noise and speed issues as well as the functionality of the parts. The pieces I’ve had prototyped on it were useless. None lasted until the end of the semester.

      Contrast that with the rather old Stratasys ABS printer they have which produced hard wearing, usable pieces. Granted, it’s not eco friendly in the slightest, but it gave good results. On my own RepRap, I’ve printed Nylon to a quality where I could turn it on a lathe, machine it with a mill, finish it with hand tools. It produced usable parts that can be used in furniture. No MCOR printer can do that.

      The industrial processes I referred to are recycling processes. The paper is shredded, heated, bleached, de-inked among other processes. None of these are carbon neutral any more than recycling plastic is. Granted, it’s better than plastic recycling but still, the duration of use I would get out of a plastic part is greater than I would get from a laminated paper product so the tradeoff on a personal scale is acceptable.

      Do you work for MCOR?

      • Julie Reece

        You are using a very, very old version, likely a first generation machine. I encourage you to check out the current Mcor printers first hand at an event – very different and being used successfully at Staples, Universities, medical care facilities and manufacturers around the world. It also also sounds like many of the issues you’ve experienced have to do with training rather than the technology itself. The points I made earlier are all accurate for today’s Mcor technology.

  • Kazabazua

    Because when I think 3D printing, I think about the Black Eyed Peas – said by no one ever.

  • Tilo

    I have some doubts about this project. I hope somebody has an answer. I would like to know what’s the composition of the filaments, is it PET? Is it a hard material to extrude, or is the filament made of the PP from the caps?

    Also, how is the process to recover the bottles and transform them into cartridges? Is the packaging of the printer or the cartridges also using recycled material? What exactly do they mean with this 25% post-consumer recycled materials?

  • Emanuele Piz

    Che palle.

  • keithwwalker

    Please don’t discount the positive influence that a spokeperson such as Will.I.Am can have on disadvantaged youth, who are underrepresented in the sciences and engineering.

  • http://www.3dprintingpartner.com/ Printing Partner

    Always happy to see famous figures make an effort to contribute in creative ways.

  • Recycler

    This.