Recycling Plastic Into Filament

Plastic is a remarkable material in many ways. Cheap, durable, and versatile, it is responsible for a large percentage of the modern world we live in. As we all know, though, it’s not without its downsides. Its persistence in the environment is quite troubling, so any opportunity we can take to reduce its use is welcome. This 3D printed machine, although made out of plastic, is made out of repurposed water bottles that have been turned into the filament for the 3D printer.

While there’s not too much information available on the site, what we gather is that the machine cuts a specific type of plastic water bottle made out of PET plastic into strips, and then feeds the strips into a heated forming tool. The tool transforms the strips into the filament shape and spools them so they are ready to feed back into a 3D printer. As a proof of concept, it seems as though this machine was made from repurposed plastic, but it could also be made using whatever filament you happen to have on hand.

As far as recycling goes, this is a great effort to keep at least some of it out of landfills and oceans. Unfortunately, plastic can’t be recycled endlessly like metal, as it will eventually break down. But something like this could additionally save on some filament costs for those with access to these types of bottles. Other options for creating your own filament also include old VHS tapes, but you will likely need a separate machine for that.

PicoCat, printed in yellow filament, looking at you with its ultrasonic sensor eyes

Build Your Own Cat – Some Assembly Required

Robotic pets are sci-fi material, and [Kevin McAleer] from [Kev’s Robots] is moving us all ever so closer towards a brighter, happier, more robotic future. One of his latest robot builds, PicoCat, is a robot cat with servo-driven paws. It follows in the footsteps of the OpenCat project made by Dr. Rongzhong Li back in 2016, and we’re always happy seeing someone pick up where another hacker left off. [Kevin] took heavy inspiration from the OpenCat design – rebuilding it with hardware more friendly and accessible for makers today.

Projects like these, involving data processing and calculations to get the servos moving just right, stand to benefit from the computing power of recently released RP2040 MCU. As such, the Pimoroni Servo 2040 board is a crucial component of this build, being both the brains of the project and also a PIO-boosted driver for the eleven servos helping this robot come alive. This cat’s eyes are an ultrasonic sensor, and you can add a whole lot more sensors for any robotic intention of yours. Don’t expect this kitty to jump one meter high or scratch your favourite couch to death just yet, but there’s already a lot of potential, especially coupled with a small speaker.

A PicoCat with a non-robotic kitten in the backgroundDoes this robotic cat interest you, whether it’d be due to your sci-fi propensity or a cat hair allergy? You’re in luck, because [Kevin] is keeping things firmly in the “open-source everything” realm. MicroPython code is stored in a GitHub repo, STLs are in a .zip linked on the page, and there’s plenty of renders to never leave you confused on what goes where. With all these resources, you can source the servos and the boards, fire up your 3D printer and sit down to assemble your own PicoCat. But not just that, [Kevin] also recorded three whole streams with insights, giving us over four hours of how-it-came-to-be video material for us to learn from. First, two streams of him designing the PicoCat in Fusion360, and then, him talking about the way he creates unit tests in MicroPython to improve his robots’ reliability and significantly reduce the amount of bugs cropping up.

This is not the last we will hear from [Kevin]’s robot-filled workshop, and previously, we’ve covered his Cray-1-shaped Pi Zero cluster system and a Raspberry Pi theremin, both as open and reproducible as this kitty! As you assemble yourself a PicoCat, or perhaps a Stanford Pupper or any of the other lovely quadru-pets we’ve previously featured, you might wonder how to properly move the servos, and we’ve covered a project that teaches you specifically that.

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Recycling Soda Bottles Into Filament To Print Smaller Soda Bottles

Thermoplastics are great, because you can melt them down and reform them into whatever you like. This is ably demonstrated by [The Q] by recycling old soda bottles into usable 3D printer filament.

Cute, huh? Why aren’t Coca-Cola making these? Tiny fake grocery items already proved hugely popular in Australia.

Soda bottles are usually made out of PET plastic, or polyethylene terephthalate, which is one of the most popular thermoplastics in modern society. A soda bottle can be cut into a continuous long, thin strip with the use of a simple hand-operated machine that slices the bottle with a blade. This strip of plastic can then be fed through a heated nozzle in order to produce filament for 3D printing. [The Q] demonstrates both parts of this process, including using a motorized reel to take up filament as the bottle material is fed through the extruder.

The filament is then demonstrated by printing tiny versions of soda bottles. [The Q] fills these with soda and gives them the appropriate lids and labels for completion’s sake. It’s a neat way to demonstrate that the filament actually works for 3D printing. It bears noting that such prints are almost certainly not food safe, but it’s really a proof of concept rather than an attempt to make a usable beverage container.

Like similar builds we’ve seen in the past, the filament is of limited length due to the amount of plastic in a single bottle. We’d like to see a method for feeding multiple bottles worth of plastic into the extruder to make a longer length spool, as joining lengths of filament itself can be fraught with issues. Video after the break.

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Deceptively Simple Process Turns Bottles Into Filament

If you know that most soda bottles are made from PET plastic, you’ve probably thought about how you could make filament from them and have an endless supply of cheap printing material. [Mr3DPrint] says he has a method and shares a few videos that make it look easy. We wonder if the quality of the filament is up to par with commercial products, but assuming the videos are accurate, it appears that the resulting filament gets the job done.

The details are a little sketchy, but it looks simple enough. THe first step is to get any indentations out of the bottle. He has several demonstrations of this some using pressurized air in the bottle and some without. In each case, though, a drill holds the bottle through the cap and spins it over a flame until the surface is smooth.

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“Paper” Bottles For Your Fizzy Drinks (And Bottle Rockets)

A story that passed almost unnoticed was that the Coca-Cola company plan to run a limited trial of paper bottles. Wait, paper for a pressurized beverage? The current incarnation still uses a plastic liner and cap but future development will focus on a “bio-based barrier” and a bio composite or paper cap tethered to the vessel.

Given that plastic pollution is now a major global concern this is interesting news, as plastic drinks bottles make a significant contribution to that problem. But it raises several questions, first of all why are we seemingly unable to recycle the bottles in the first place, and given that we have received our milk and juice in paper-based containers for decades why has it taken the soda industry so long?

Plastic soft drink bottles are made from Polyethylene terephthalate or PET, the same polyester polymer as the one used in Dacron or Terylene fabrics. They’re blow-moulded, which is to say that an injection-moulded preform something like a plastic test tube with a screw top fitting is expanded from inside in a mould by compressed gas. As anyone who has experimented with bottle rockets will tell you, they are immensely strong, and as well as being cheap to make and transport they are also readily recyclable when separated from their caps.

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Hamster Goes On Virtual Journey

Hamsters are great pets, especially for those with limited space or other resources. They are fun playful animals that are fairly easy to keep, and are entertaining to boot. [Kim]’s hamster, [Mr. Fluffbutt], certainly fits this mold as well but [Kim] wanted something a little beyond the confines of the habitat and exercise wheel and decided to send him on a virtual journey every time he goes for a run.

The virtual hamster journey is built on an ESP32 microcontroller which monitors the revolutions of the hamster wheel via a hall effect sensor and magnet. It then extrapolates the distance the hamster has run and sends the data to a Raspberry Pi which hosts a MQTT and Node.js server. From there, it maps out an equivalent route according to a predefined GPX route and updates that information live. The hamster follows the route, in effect, every time it runs on the wheel. [Mr Fluffbutt] has made it from the Netherlands to southeastern Germany so far, well on his way to his ancestral home of Syria.

This project is a great way to add a sort of augmented reality to a pet hamster, in a similar way that we’ve seen self-driving fish tanks. Adding a Google Streetview monitor to the hamster habitat would be an interesting addition as well, but for now we’re satisfied seeing the incredible journey that [Mr Fluffbutt] has been on so far.

PET 2001 Emulator On $2 Of Hardware

Since the late 60s, Moore’s law has predicted with precision that the number of semiconductors that will fit on a chip about doubles every two years. While this means more and more powerful computers, every year, it also means that old computers can be built on smaller and cheaper hardware. This project from [Bjoern] shows just how small, too, as he squeezes a PET 2001 onto the STM32 Blue Pill.

While the PET 2001 was an interesting computer built by Commodore this project wasn’t meant to be a faithful recreation, but rather to test the video output of the Blue Pill, with the PET emulation a secondary goal. It outputs a composite video signal which takes up a good bit of processing power, but the PET emulation still works, although it is slightly slow and isn’t optimized perfectly. [Bjoern] also wired up a working keyboard matrix as well although missed a few wire placements and made up for it in the software.

With his own home-brew software running on the $2 board, he has something interesting to display over his composite video output. While we can’t say we’d emulate an entire PC just to get experience with composite video, we’re happy to see someone did. If you’d like to see a more faithful recreation of this quirky piece of computing history, we’ve got that covered as well.

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