There are many unique and even weird materials that innovative people have used to 3D print from a wide variety of foods like chocolate, meat and fake meat, sugar, salt, pancake batter, and even grapes to almost every metal imaginable like aluminum, titanium, stainless steel , Copper, cobalt chrome and gold. Obviously we are 3D printing with lots of plastics and lots of biomaterials, and people are 3D printing materials like ceramics, glass, diamonds, cloth and even cannabis!
Cornwall-based startup Fishy Filaments has another interesting 3D printing material: it turns recycled nylon fishing nets into technical filaments to save marine life.
“Fishy Filaments’ recycled nylon (also known as PA6) is unusual, possibly unique, in the world of 3D printing filaments. We can track the polymers we reclaim from their original sources, mostly in Japan, down the global fishing net supply chain, through commercial fisheries and ultimately to our doorstep, ”the website says.
“This is possible because the nylon used in commercial fishing meets very high standards to meet the demands of an extremely tough industry.”
By the time Fishy Filaments got the nets from its independent third-party laboratories, Cornish fishermen have been using them for several months, but that’s all as the net surfaces become cloudy and no longer catch any fish. The nylon from these nets is a little salty and sometimes even sticks with pieces of kelp, but the company says, “The underlying high quality polymer is still there.” They also want to keep it that way by not over-processing the material and destroying its value by adding chemical modifiers.
Since the official launch of the recycled fishing net filament last year, the Cornish start-up claims that artists, hobbyists, professional product designers and even heavy industry have used the material sensibly.
“We’re already getting inquiries from all over the world, even though we don’t have a huge marketing budget, but we only want to partner with companies that share our values,” said Ian Falconer, Director of Fishy Filaments.
“All of our polymer blends are 100% recycled. We don’t add pigments or other modifiers. Instead, we work with the nets we get from fishing fleets, sorting them by color and wear, and processing them separately to maximize their potential.
“We then combine the qualities to give customers a consistent mix that they can add their own uniqueness and value through 3D printing.
“If we didn’t take these nets and turn them into filament, most of them would be landfilled.”
Another UK company that clearly shares the startup’s values is 3D Printz Limited, based in Telford and headquartered in Shropshire, bordering Wales to the west. The two recently signed an environmentally friendly distribution agreement that will benefit 3D Printz by helping to expand its range of products for 3D printing.
“We are excited about this partnership,” said Peter Roberts, Director of 3D Printz. “All business areas should do everything possible to help the environment. We are therefore very pleased that we can add fish filaments to our growing range.”
3D printing has the potential to be a more sustainable manufacturing method and this factor is widely discussed in the industry. There is less energy consumption and material waste, more sustainable material options and often less shipping requirements. A partnership between a 3D printing specialist and a supplier like 3D Printz and Fishy Filaments that focuses on sustainability is hugely beneficial to both.
You can purchase Fishy Filaments’ Premium Porthcurno Mixture on 750g spools for £ 59.99 (including VAT) on the 3D Printz website sales portal. Porthcurno was named after a spectacular beach in the UK and, according to the startup, is well suited for applications where flexibility and translucency are required. Because of its light blue-green color, many off-the-shelf dyes are quite suitable. 3D Printz offers free delivery on orders over £ 50.
(Source: Shropshire Live / Images: Fish Filaments)