Industrial design student wins grant to set up 3D printing filament recycling system

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Life experience makes a good industrial designer, and Ryan colwick has many. Academically, he graduated in Architecture and Graphic Design and is now focusing on his Masters in Industrial Design at the Design School at Arizona State University; On the work experience side, he worked as a lab technician in a printing house, drove a forklift truck at Home Depot, and spent eight years in the US Marine Corps including at the Navy Oil Refinery Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, producing fuel for the F / A-18 Hornets.

Now working through the school designing swimming pools for a landscaping company, Colwick’s final project is a farewell gift both to the ASU ID department and to the planet. He and his fellow ID student Aleksandra Froelich pooled their money to buy a Protocycler and implemented ThermoLab, “a service for students across the Tempe campus to recycle poorly printed or previous models and [turn] put it back into usable filament. “

“As industrial design students, we create a lot of plastic waste by creating prototypes for our projects,” writes Colwick. “Students at the design school have no way to recycle their filament and therefore either keep it for no reason or simply throw it away. This can result in mounds of wasted plastic being sent to our landfills and eventually to our. oceans. “

Colwick and Froelich set up a system allowing students to deposit their print waste which will be crushed by the Protocycler and transformed into fresh filament. “By creating our own spools from used filaments from different departments, we can reduce the cost of 3D printer filament spools by up to 80% and provide an economical and sustainable option for students to prototype future projects. could save students hundreds of dollars a year in printing costs and prevent more plastic from going to landfill. “

Once the system is operational, Colwick and Froelich’s plan is to collect data, which will be used as ammunition in an expansion push. “We plan to measure the success of our project by how much we recycle by weight, how much money we save by not having to buy new filament and how many students come to us to recycle their own plastic,” writes Colwick. . “After sufficient data collection, we will introduce different departments, encouraging them to invest in more recyclers, one for each program.

“We hope ThermoLab will convince the whole school to adopt recycling programs for all facilities that use 3D printing.”

For the development of the project, Colwick received a Sustainability Challenge grant from the Social Impact Organization ASU Changemaker Central. He is also graduating this semester, and his future plans are “to hand over the reins. [to ThermoLab] to my partner Aleks, ”he said,“ then hopefully head to a design agency where I can work on projects in multiple areas. “

For those of you in a position to hire, you may want to check out Colwick’s book here.


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