The CLIFFF Project: Making 3D Printing Circular

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Closed Loop Innovation For Filament Fabrication (CLIFFF) is a project where we are looking at developing a closed loop system for waste management of 3D printed plastics. The system will capture and produce new filament for a new cycle of production.

The Closed Loop Innovation in Fused Filament Fabrication (CLIFFF) project will enable industry and academic 3D print farms and service bureaus to reprocess discarded 3D prints back into high value new 3D printing filaments creating a fully circular business model for the Additive manufacturing sector.

The project will:
• Create new reverse logistics business models.
• Develop a material identification system for EoL and failed 3D prints using a novel NIR based approach.
• Develop a lab-scale processing facility. The facility will shred and extrude the failed prints back into high quality 3D printer filament that will be comprehensively tested on a range of commercial 3D printers.

3D printing is facing significant growth as companies across multiple industries are increasingly using it for more than just rapid prototyping. Today 3D printers can print objects faster than they used to, they can print larger objects and in a greater variety of materials. The fused filament fabrication (FFF) segment holds the largest market share, and the cost-effectiveness of FFF 3D printing in plastic is expected to benefit the market’s expansion in the coming forecast periods.

However, there are still strong environmental concerns around this rapidly growing sector. Unlike other plastic waste, such as packaging, there is currently no established End-of-Life (EoL) processing system for 3D printed polymer parts, so the vast majority of discarded prints ultimately end up in the landfill.

Find out more in the new CLIFFF project report (linked), which explains the objectives of CLIFFF, the targeted market segments, plastics and printer types, and also looks more specifically at environmental issues and provides three case studies.


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