Technological watch

Recycled plastic for 3D printing

Polymaker® PC-r polycarbonate filament for 3D printing is made from a Covestro plastic recyclate. © CovestroPolymaker, a leading manufacturer of 3D printing materials, uses a recycled polycarbonate developed by Covestro, a globally leading materials supplier, to produce Polymaker™ PC-r, the polycarbonate filament for 3D printing made from recycled plastic. The material comes from 19-liter bottles from Chinese water supplier Nongfu Spring, which contain polycarbonate in a fairly pure form. Covestro blends the plastic waste with virgin material to yield a polycarbonate base that can be extruded into filaments for use in electronics automotive and other industries.

The filament is particularly suitable for brands wanting to make their supply chain more sustainable, especially in combination with 3D printing technology for production on an industrial scale. Compared to virgin material, the filament using recycled material has a lower carbon footprint. The product is also more durable and meets industry-specific requirements such as the Blue Angel and EPEAT seal.

The fact that the waste comes from one single source is an advantage. This means that no prior sorting and identification of the plastics is necessary. The plastic waste is quite pure and can be recycled in a cost-effective manner. In addition, it is available in sufficient quantities. In China, large-volume water bottles are widespread in private households and public places. These are collected and refilled again and again before finally discarded and sent for recycling. This is another example of how Covestro is helping to build a circular economy in collaboration with partners along the value chains.

The high temperature post-consumer product has outstanding thermal stability and strength. Because of its properties, a constant temperature chamber is required to print successfully.

Machine manufacturer INTAMSYS conducted print tests with Polymaker™ PC-r on its FUNMAT PRO 410 printer. The printer can achieve a dual jet temperature of up to 500°C and a platform temperature of up to 160°C. The chamber temperature can be up to 90°C, which prevents warping of printed parts and allows larger and more complex models to be printed more successfully.

Tests have demonstrated that the Polymaker™ PC-r material is extremely easy to process. The test scores show good values for tensile strength, Young's modulus, flexural strength and flexural modulus, which were slightly higher than standard polycarbonate.

Extensive range of products at the TCT Asia trade showPolymaker will be presenting a wide range of materials for 3D printing, ranging from high-performance plastics to unique aesthetic solutions at TCT Asia, the 3D printing trade show in Shanghai, China, from May 26-28, 2021.

At the trade show, Covestro and its additive manufacturing business, including the newly acquired business from DSM, will be exhibiting on two booths as both had registered separately prior to the transaction.

Publication date: 25/05/2021

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This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14