3D printers are generating mass amounts of plastic waste from printing supportive structures, correcting print orientation errors, and failed prints. The most used 3D printing material, PLA, is made of the same plastic material and cannot be reused nor recycled. As a result, it ends up in landfills and oceans. The purpose of this project is to find an alternative support material that generates less waste. Two potential solutions were explored to reduce the use of PLA plastic. One solution was a 3D printer that would use wax as a support material, since wax is easy to use, affordable, and reusable. Following research and testing, it was discovered that use of wax would not possible due to the difference in the melting points of the materials. Using the highest melting Paraffin wax (72 °C), and the lowest melting plastic, LDPE (120 °C), results in melted wax puddle. Another option is a 4-5 axis 3D printer, which has the degrees of motion needed to reach and print complex 3D printed parts without using support material. The 4-5 axis 3D printer has potential. However, the complexity of software development, Rhino 3D and Grasshopper were used to test the product’s feasibility.
Jonathan Harris, MID
BS - Integrated Product Design
Dattolo, Michael; Harris, Jonathan; and Zesk, Walter, "Reducing Plastic Waste with 5D Printing" (2023). Student Research Design & Innovation Symposium. 4.