Brilliant PET 3D print made from entirely recycled thermoplastic by RE PET 3D [Source: Fabbaloo]
I had the pleasure to speak with the owner and staff at RE PET 3D.
The Czech company offers PET filament for 3D printers, as do many other providers. The difference is that RE PET 3D’s material is 100% recycled.
There have been several thermoplastic recycling initiatives launched before, but most of them seem focused on the notion of cleaning up third world countries, which often have out-of-control plastic waste situations.
While these initiatives are quite admirable, they do very little to alleviate the actual plastic debris issues, simply because 3D printer filament requires an input flow of debris all made from the exact same type of thermoplastic. In practice, this means the third world country operatives would collect, say, only Pepsi bottles, thus mostly guaranteeing identical input materials. The remaining 99% of the debris stays as is.
RE PET 3D and Eko MB
Tough two-part, snap-together 3D printed chairs using recycled PET filament from RE PET 3D [Source: Fabbaloo]
But this is definitely not the business model for RE PET 3D, who are quite new to the scene. They launched only four months ago and we caught them at their first public showing.
RE PET 3D has partnered with Czech recycling firm Eko MB s.r.o., who, like many regional operators, collect recycled material from the public. This partnership is the key to RE PET 3D’s business model.
Eko is able to provide a constant and consistent stream of PET raw materials to RE PET 3D from their collections. The PET fragments are “perfectly” separated from other recycling materials, cleaned thoroughly, and dried.
RE PET 3D Filament Production
RE PET 3D’s filament production process [Source: Fabbaloo]
This is where RE PET 3D takes over. Their filament production line accepts the recycled PET fragments and uses a typical filament manufacturing set up to produce high-quality PET filament.
RE PET 3D explains to us that Eko provides them with hundreds of tons of material per month, and it is a constant and reliable flow from which to make PET filament.
RE PET 3D Manufacturing Capacity
They say they have a manufacturing capacity of over 200kg per day (that would be 200 x 1kg spools, likely), but presently do not always operate three full daily operator shifts. However, as demand rises they can add a shift and eventually open another production line.
Sales of their PET products are done through their own website, and they have a few partners reselling the products as well. They also offer white labelling to other filament providers who wish to sell a fully recycled PET product but don’t have one of their own. If you are a filament reseller, you might want to look into RE PET 3D’s offer.
RE PET 3D Prospects
Spools of translucent green and blue-gray PET filament from RE PET 3D [Source: Fabbaloo]
As a brand new venture, RE PET 3D has yet to prove they can succeed, but so far things appear to be going well. My visual inspection of their filament products revealed what appeared to be quality material, but I can’t tell without actually putting it through a machine. Perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to do so in the future.
RE PET 3D’s success is dependent largely on public and corporate perceptions. Aside from the recycling angle, their PET filament is not significantly different from the offerings of many other filament manufacturers. The only major difference is the fact that it has been produced in a sustainable manner.
Thus this means their buyers are likely to be those who on principle would select the recycled option, if all other factors were equal. Some corporations may have public policies to choose recycled options, and these would make excellent clients for RE PET 3D.
Currently, RE PET 3D offers two products, a beautiful translucent green PET 1kg spool, and a blue-gray PET 1kg spool. Both are priced at €28 (US$30).
Via RE PET 3D