Put a plastic soda bottle into the Ekocycle Cube and what comes out could be a new phone case, bird house, drinking cup or toy. Not only does it turn a waste material into something useful, this new consumer 3D printer solves a problem that has prevented 3D printing from catching on at home – the availability of printer filament. PET plastic bottles are incorporated into cartridges that work similarly to regular printer cartridges, except in three dimensions.
The Ekocycle turns the PLA (polylactic acid) from the bottles into a filament that can be 'printed' into new objects. PLA is odorless and doesn't warp as much as many other materials. Each cartridge contains about three plastic bottles' worth of materials.
Set to retail for $1200 when it's put up for sale later this year, the Ekocycle can print materials up to 6 inches in size with a 70-micron resolution. Cartridges come in black, red, white and 'natural' colors.
The gadget is backed by Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am, who says "We will make it cool to recycle, and we will make it cool to make products using recycled materials. This is the beginning of a more sustainable 3D-printed lifestyle. Waste is only waste if we waste it."