The ReMake Lab
The ReMake Lab of Lopez Island, WA working towards small scale localized recycling and manufacturing by turning recycled plastics into 3D printer filament.
On our small, rural island recycling is both expensive and time consuming. Moving recyclables off Lopez Island contributes to green house gas emissions produced by transport. This project is looking for local solutions to turn burdens into resources, and encourage our youth to envision a future where creative solutions solve community challenges.
This project is focusing shredding #1 PET (like water bottles) and #2 HDPE plastics (like milk jugs) then extruding them into filament for 3D printers. 3D Printers are the future of home manufacturing, and quickly becoming available very inexpensively. We are working to get in front of the home manufacturing wave that we know is coming by creating the material 3D printers will need to run with local recyclables. Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District has been working with their office's 3D printer since November, 2016 and helped Lopez School to purchase and begin working with their 3D printer in the same year.
This project is in line with the “Maker” Movement, described as umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers. The name of our project is adding the recycling and reuse ethic to the maker movement and therefore referred to as the
Re-Make Lab. Our team of builders includes 4 high school students, one coordinator and two PhD Engineers. Nikyta Palmisani, Training, Education and Outreach Coordinator for Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District is the concept initiator and facilitator. The first group of Lopez students chosen for this project are all female; an underrepresented population in STEM, and the project is being well documented to serve for future college scholarship applications. The students on our STEM “Dream Team” are Nora Zapalac, Naomi Vliet, Ashi Bartolucci, and Kate Combs. Brad Bucanon and Page Read, both experienced Mechanical Engineering PhD’s have volunteered their time and expertise to the project. David Zapalac as LSWDD Facility Manager and Dave Sather, Lopez Secondary Principle are also included on the team.
In the first year, our Dream Team worked to prototype two machines: a shredder for the plastic recyclables and an extruder to melt the plastics into 1.75 mm filament. Page Read helped innovate a two part system: a fly wheel hand crank, so Lopezians and visitors could hand shred water bottles individually in the LSWDD recycle plaza, and an up cycled motor that attaches to the shredder for faster production. Page also worked with our student team on every step from design to manufacture as embedded learning within the innovation process. By fall of 2017, our shredder was on site and in use shredding plastic water bottles into flakes for use in the extruder.
The extruder prototype took our working group 10 months to innovate, during the course of which Brad Bucannan, our resident Plastics Expert, discovered that a company called Filastruder had created a machine tailored to our needs. In our process it was price comparable to either buy 4 temperature sensors for our prototype, or simply purchase both a Filastruder (filament extruder) and Filawinder (filament winder) for the same cost.
Page Read continued to be a master teacher, and as both Filastruder and Filawinder were both kits, Page created venues for both mechanical and electrical learning for our Dream Team.
As of April, 2018, we have now produced our first #1 PET 3D print using Lopez recycled and extruded filament. We are still continuing to innovate solutions to many challenges and will be presenting our initial findings at Maker Faire 2018 in the Bay Area on May 20th at 4:30 pm on the Education Stage, and at the Washington State Recycling Association's Annual Conference, this year in Blaine, WA on May 22 at 11:30 am.
Stay tuned for more updates!