Cadman-LT, when we're talking about 3D printing a building, it's not usually made of plastic, but of more typical construction materials that begin as powders and are bound together to make a solid like concrete, brick, etc. So there's no melting down involved. For a variety of these materials, see an article I wrote for a UBM sister publication, Future Cities: Your Next City Block, Printable on Site: http://www.ubmfuturecities.com/author.asp?section_id=262&doc_id=523906
Ann, one last thing on this subject. This might be obvious to some, but I just thought of it. I know the 3D printers are good for prototyping the part and assuring it's correct. What I was wondering was...and if this would work...can you take the model(file) for the 3D printed part and feed it to a cad/cam system so that there are no programming errors, so that it is an exact replica of the prototype? So no programmer error.
That was just the main advantage I saw with 3D printing...making prototypes before you actually machine the real deal. So instead of wasting material(machining) you could print it and recycle it if there were changes to be made.
Even if you don't get any scrap, if you printed a part and wanted to make a change to it...you could melt it down and reuse that to reprint it I would hope anyways. I am just talking about like plastic prototype stuff.
I think this is a very interesting idea, guys: recycling the building materials, anyway. I wonder how much (if at all) this potential has been looked at by the inventors of the various different 3D building techniques. Because the ability to do so depends a great deal on how the materials are designed.
Ann, thanks I thought it was a good question too and thanks for the info. Recycling would be just one more benefit. I mean how many new housing projects do you go buy and see all of the scrap? Cabe had a good point as well. If you want to remodel, just recycle your old room into a new one...lol
Cadman-LT, interesting question. You're right--there are a lot of factors involved. Actually you've asked two questions: first, can you melt down the material and second, can you reuse it presumably in the same 3D printer. Whether you can melt the materials depends on whether they're metal or plastic. Since the metals used in 3D printing/AM are powder metals specifically formulated for this process, even if you had the right equipment to melt the object you couldn't reuse the melted metal. There's a similar problem with the plastic, at least in many processes. Of course, for some processes, even if the end user doesn't have the equipment and expertise to recycle the plastic, the manufacturers do. And BTW I'm talking about commercial and industrial processes/equipment, not the maker end.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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