Awesome Green Gadget: 3-D Printer that Runs on Your Recycling
By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the NatuREport Blog Series
For all the doom and gloom talk about global warming - and don't get me wrong, that's a huge problem that we need to hear about often - sometimes it's nice to read about environment-related stories that tell us why the future might just be awesome.
3-D printing is pretty awesome in and of itself. Like many people, when I first heard of 3-D printing, my first reaction was one of disbelief and confusion - especially when I heard of the kind of objects you could print: utensils. Building materials. Furniture. Artificial limbs. Robots. A replica of King Tut's mummy.
What on earth?!
It sounds like something out of science fiction, but it's very real. See for yourself.
Print your own flute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlq5R84TlVw&feature=related
Print your own wrench - in color: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aghzpO_UZE
[ osde8info @ flickr ]
But what does this have to do with sustainability? Most 3-D printers out there require the use of special (no doubt expensive) material in order to make objects.
Meet the Filabot:
As you can probably tell by the familiar 3-arrow logo, the Filabot recycles. Feed it small pieces of plastic from your water bottles, milk jugs, or DVDs, and it will spit out filament that can be used in 3-D printing, to make...well, practically whatever you want.
Developed by mechanical engineering student Tyler McNaney, this contraption is far from being ready for the average household; very few people even own 3-D printers to begin with. But can you imagine? This sounds like the kind of idea that could really change things. I wouldn't be at all surprised if some big company bought the rights to the Filabot and developed it further to work on a larger scale.
And as a further environmental benefit, as I've heard people point out, 3D printers have the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by cutting down on our need for transportation. If we can print gadgets ourselves, we certainly don't need them shipped to us over long distances with gas-guzzling cars and airplanes.
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty excited about the future at the moment.