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Fab Labs are forming a Green Fab Lab Network which will harness renewable resources and 3D printing to build sustainable and circular economies.
In a paper titled, “Green Fab Lab Applications of Large-Area Waste Polymer-based Additive Manufacturing“, scientists from Michigan Technological University and Aalto University, Finland, studied how a Green Fab Lab Network can be economically and environmentally beneficial. Open-source supporter Professor Joshua Pearce also contributed to the study, whose team has earlier shown how to make 3D printing filament by upcycling wood waste.
Fab - Lab - Laboratory - Workshop - Containing
A Fab Lab, or “fabrication laboratory,” is typically a workshop containing tools and machines like CNC, laser cutters and 3D printers. Conceptualized in 2001 by MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld, currently there are over a 1,000 fab labs around the world, one of the most popular one being in Barcelona, which also has a Green Fab Lab for utilizing renewable resources.
The recent paper attempts to explore the economic impacts and financial reasons for combining 3D printing and renewable resources in Green Fab Labs.
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According to the authors of the paper, as Fab Labs themselves generate a lot of waste, due to failed and unusable prints, a printer which can create from waste materials would be an ideal choice for the Green Fab Lab concept. However, upcycling plastic into filament degrades the mechanical properties of the plastic. For such reasons, a pellet extruding printer was preferred because it can extrude raw material in various forms, such as pellets, shreds or flakes.
An open source fused particle fabrication (FPF/FGF) 3D printer by re:3D, GigaBot X, and a Lulzbot Taz were chosen for the experiment.
Gigabot - X - Pellet - System - Image
A Gigabot X pellet extruding system. Image...
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