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Filamet – soon you’ll probably be able to print out a full working electric motor from your old plastic pop bottles

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Everyone knows that 3D printing is still at an extremely early stage of development, just baby steps really. But it’s clear that eventually the process of printing things on demand will change the world beyond all recognition. It will make the mobile phone revolution look like nothing. Think we’re joking?

If you don’t believe, take a look at this new Filamet product which is currently undergoing a crowdfunding process. Developed by some very nerdy chaps deep in the bowels of Madison, WI, the product is basically a high metal content 3D printing filament, which can run on just about any cheap printer anywhere. The key point to note is that it’s not expensive, doesn’t require an expensive printer, and yet can produce stunning results which go way beyond standard ABS or PLA plastic output.

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Initially the demand is likely to be from arts, crafts and hobbyist types, but it’s clearly not going to take long before the engineers cotton on to the potential of having low cost 3D metallic output on demand in small quantities. The developers have already started experimenting with magnetic and electrically conductive filaments, and in some cases they’re able to do this with a recycled plastic mix.

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It doesn’t take a genius to realize that eventually it should be possible to dump your old plastic bottles into a recycle machine in the kitchen – maybe something like a Filabot – and turn it into a fully working electric motor you can use for some household appliance or hobby. And of course it doesn’t stop there. When you look around at the quantity of electrical items we have in our homes, you can see how cool it would be to start recycling our waste plastic in ways which provide real value, rather than just going towards landfill or more pop bottles.

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The folks at Filabot have already started experimenting with recycled plastic mixes such as carbon fiber and biodegradable HPS (high impact polystyrene) which dissolves away on demand while smelling like oranges. So the techniques exist to do recycle mixes, and adding metal properties is very logical. We’ve been following 3D printing since the beginning, and the technology continues to amaze. For now check out the Filamet campaign and if you’re into 3D printing give them support. It could lead to some very cool things.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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