Protoprint is a Social Enterprise based in Pune, India that empowers urban waste pickers with the technology to produce 3D printer filament from the waste plastic they collect. We market the filament globally, providing consumers with a price competitive, ethically sourced, recycled alternative to virgin plastic.
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In March 2012, Protoprint began working on an ethical, fair trade filament production process using low-cost, grassroots technology. In collaboration with our pilot partner SWaCH (a local wastepickers co-operative) we have developed a distributed, scalable production model to produce recycled HDPE printer filament from waste plastic collected on the ground.
The idea began as a project when we recognized a gap in the 3D filament market for a recycled filament offering. The filament on the market largely consists of virgin PLA and ABS plastic, only adding to the already rampant plastics problem we face. Protoprint Fair Trade Filament is pioneering the concept of an environmentally friendly, ethical filament offering. We began pilot filament production in December 2013 and work with a plastic called HDPE (High Density Polyethylene). We chose to work with HDPE after conducting a thorough survey of the plastics collected by urban waste-pickers and factoring in logistical and material constraints. Unfortunately, HDPE has significant warping issues when 3D printed and we are currently working with the National Chemical Labs to develop an additive to prevent this warpage. Currently, we only work with a select group of partners to test our filament and will start commercial distribution once we conclude our research and development.
Protoprint is committed to open source development and we've assisted other organizations interested in implementing similar solutions since our inception. Contact us if you're interested in our work!