As desktop 3D printing becomes more commonplace, with offices and households installing them, the question of eco-friendly, biodegradable 3D printing materials has become increasingly important. Now, an Italian 3D printer startup is raising another important question: that of eco-friendly 3D printers. If it is important to be 3D printing with sustainable materials, shouldn’t the 3D printer be made of them as well?
Italian digital laboratory 3DRap is currently in the process of developing an affordable desktop 3D printer made almost entirely out of biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA). PLA, which is made from plant by-products and agricultural waste, is also a popular 3D printing material.
The portable 3D printer, called Poly, is being developed by mechanical engineers Domenico Orsi, Benjamin Izzo, Antonio De Stefano and Davide Cervone, the founders of Mercogliano-based 3DRap. According to the makers, the Poly 3D printer is still in its prototyping stage, but they are already planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the eco-friendly desktop 3D printer within the next few months. If all goes well with the crowdfunding campaign, they will put the first batch of Poly 3D printers into production.
As mentioned, the 3D printer is made almost entirely out of a zero-impact PLA bioplastic, which is reportedly capable of biodegrading in only hours if it is disposed of in a composting site. If it is disposed in the regular trash or left in nature, the makers reckon it will take a couple years to fully decompose—still not bad considering that most materials take decades, or even hundreds of years to erode.
Another feature that sets the Poly 3D printer apart from other desktop 3D printers is that it can be battery powered. At this point, no details about what type of battery (rechargeable or not) have been disclosed. In terms of materials that the 3D printer can print with, 3DRap has suggested that plastics and even chocolate could be used.
So far, not many details have been released about the Poly 3D printer, presumably because it is still in its prototyping stage. Our interest is piqued however, and we will certainly be following the Poly 3D printer once it launches through a crowdfunding campaign. One of the best parts? It will reportedly only cost about 249 euros (USD $260).