Some months ago 3D Systems made the unusual appointment of artist will.i.am as their Chief Creative Officer. Now we see the first fruit from that move: the EKOCYCLE personal 3D printer.
To be fair, the EKOCYCLE is in fact a modified version of 3D Systems’ Cube 3D printer, but we find the modifications fascinating. When will.i.am was announced as the CCO, we expected him to assist in the visual and tactile designs of the machines and more particularly, lines of 3D printed gear that would emerge from the machines.
Perhaps that will happen, but that doesn’t seem to be will.i.am’s role in the EKOCYCLE. Rather he seems to have inspired the creation of a somewhat eco-friendly 3D printer, which in retrospect fits his previous causes.
The EKOCYCLE does not use PLA or ABS plastic; instead it uses PET, a material occasionally used by plastic extrusion machines. It’s a colorful material that normally is used to make recyclable drink bottles.
Here’s the eco-angle: the EKOCYCLE’s material cartridges use some recycled PET plastic, direct from leftover drink bottles. They say:
EKOCYCLE Filament Cartridge contains 25% of post-consumer recycled materials, using an average of 3 assorted recycled 20oz PET plastic bottles.
It’s not 100% recycled, but it’s a start. We suspect it’s challenging to produce consistent quality PET filament only from recycled material. If the machine is unreliable due to inconsistent material, then it won’t be accepted, recycling or not. PET cartridges will be available in Red, White, Black and Natural (which coincidentally matches the color scheme of the printer itself.)
Otherwise, the EKOCYCLE appears to be a capable machine, with a build volume of 152 x 152 x 152 mm, 0.07mm layer size and a price of USD$1,199. Shipping later this year.