(Natural News) Scientists have found a way to integrate recyclable plastics with cardboard fibers to create a durable filament for 3D printing. These innovations in 3D printing will allow soldiers to recycle empty water bottles, plastic containers, and cardboard packaging so they can make their own replacement parts on base for use on the battlefield. Soldiers will no longer have to wait weeks for vital replacement parts. They will be able to create the parts they need with the materials they throw away on a daily basis.
Lead researcher Nicole Zander, Ph.D. says that soldiers wouldn't have to depend on outside supply chains for new parts and components. "Instead, they could basically go into the cafeteria, gather discarded water bottles, milk jugs, cardboard boxes and other recyclable items, then use those materials as feedstocks for 3D printers to make tools, parts and other gadgets."
This will improve operational readiness, enhance safety, and make good use of plastics, which end up contaminating landfills and the beautiful oceans of the world. Zander's research was presented at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). (Related: Learning from nature: Scientists create new material inspired by leaves to separate oil from water for cleaning up oil spills.)
Recyclable plastics and cardboard successfully converted to 3D printing filament for military use
The research team, including U.S. Marine Corps Captain Anthony Molnar and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, recognized that PET plastics are just as durable as commercial 3D printing filaments. PET plastics include water and soda bottles. Their first successful experiment involved a two hour process and 10 water bottles. They were able to print a durable vehicle radio bracket.