PET Bottles Diligently Turned Into Filament

While the price of 3D printers has come down quite a lot in the past few years, filament continues to be rather pricey especially for those doing a lot of printing. This has led to some people looking to alternatives for standard filament, including recycling various forms of plastic. We’ve seen plenty of builds using various materials, but none so far have had this level of quality control in the final project.

What sets this machine apart from others is that it’s built around an Arduino Nano and includes controls that allow the user to fine-tune a PID controller during the conversion of the recycled plastic into filament. Different plastic bottles have different material qualities, so once the machine is started it can be adjusted to ensure that the filament produced has the exact specifications for the printer. The PCB is available for download, and the only thing that needs to be done by hand besides feeding the machine to start it is to cut the plastic into strips for the starter spool. There is also a separate 3D printed tool available to make this task easy, though.

Not only could this project save printing costs, but it also keeps harmful plastics out of landfills and other environments. Recycling plastic tends to be quite difficult since producing new plastic is incredibly cheap, and the recycled material can’t be used as often as other materials such as aluminum. But there are still plenty of people out there trying to reuse as much of it as they can.

21 thoughts on “PET Bottles Diligently Turned Into Filament

  1. Few questions:
    1. Why not use the used filament reel directly instead of a temporary spool ? Might be possible to print the gear for the old filament’s reel side, right ?
    2. You can only get small length of filament this way, with variable quality. It would be better if 2 strips of 2 different bottles could be used to feed the extruder so you can replace one that’s ending while the other is still extruding. That would imply pushing into the extruder instead of pulling the extruder filament (maybe both ?)
    3. Is it really an issue that the bottle is not smooth ? Wouldn’t the extruder deal with the non flat strip anyway ?

    1. ITT people who never saw PETPull, it’s mostly non-English, and slowly seeping into the western sphere, lots of people on telegram channels sharing dev efforts towards easier turning of pet bottles into usable filament

  2. more a fan of the Recreator version of this. Using a couple of parts from old 3d printers.. especially if they are the cheaper amazon returns, or those $99 Ender 3 Microcenter deals.

  3. Does it need to be dried?

    Obviously the bottle to filament thing has been around a bit. But I just realized I don’t remember anyone talking about having to dry their new filament. And yet there are lots of references on the internet to people having to put their PET-G spools that have been exposed to the air for too long into a food dehydrator before use. Is it only the G variant that likes to soak up moisture? These bottles weren’t just stored in the air, they used to contain liquid!

    1. you don’t strictly speaking need to dry your PET(-G) to print it but over time it will just start to string a lot. but that of course applies to filament which is at least dry on the inside and can only accumulate a bit of moisture on its surface. my guess is it doesn’t matter because this recycled filament is going to be very low quality anyway.

      1. I live in a humid environment and most certainly need to dry PETG about every two weeks it stays out. If not, the filament will constantly “pop” and print very badly as the water in the filament boils off. It is much worse than sply a stringing problem, unfortunately.

        No idea if PET behaves this way as I haven’t yet built one of these recycling machines, but I hope to over the next several months.

    2. Certainly it does benefit from a drying before going into the printer, though not necessarily before being pultruded. The test pieces I’ve done have definitely had that signature fizzing and popping noise, along with minute steam bubbles in the final extrusion. It also smells, strangely enough, of burning potato chip bag (these used to be soda bottles).

  4. Is it worth making a controller board?

    Don’t get me wrong. I like DIY scratch building. I also appreciate the concept of a designed-for-purpose board not wasting any components for extra features that will never be used. And this is a nice board. Great job!

    But… with RAMPS and GRBL boards flooding the usual internet shops for so little… I’m just not sure it’s worth the effort to order a custom PCB and then stuff it.

  5. So, by definition, it’s not virgin, pristine material going in there. I see no way to filter the molten plastic. How to you clean and filter out the dust and dirt and other foreign material that inevitably will get in the material stream? ’cause you just know it’s going to clog your nozzle at some point.

  6. Need a better design that can turn old prints to filament. This has too much limitations also at 30g and 15 cents per bottle that is 5e/kg. Could big chucks be melted in a chamber to a goo and extruded vertically from the bottom to filament?

  7. I would consider doing some of this if there was a way to splice the cut bottle strips into a continuous long piece. Looked for about an hour but it seems that no one is interested in getting more that a few meters of PETG at a time. I just can’t see taking the time to get strips of filament or have to baby sit this. Great idea and I love it but really need to be able to scale it.

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