ReDeTec co-founder Dennon Oosterman gives his insight on the inefficiencies of 3D printing.

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Dennon about his product - the Protocycler, which wrapped up its successful Indiegogo campaign in January of this year. We chatted about the company’s present achievements, their ideals, as well as the future of renewable design technology.

Though the company was incorporated in 2013, the dream took root in 2011 while the co-founders were students at the University of British Columbia. As most students would, they got a little over-zealous when their lab acquired their first printer – a PP3DP UP. As most students would, they blew well past their electricity and materials budget. As the school became increasingly concerned over the cost and waste of 3D printing, the guys did something most students wouldn’t do – they built a machine to diminish the inefficiency of 3D printing.

Enter the Protocycler: “The first complete desktop filament re-cycler, Featuring fully integrated grinding and spooling.” The product allows users the ability to create without concern for their wallet or the environment. The goal of the company is to make 3D Printing more efficient – a necessary improvement.

Right now, materials (namely PLA/ABS plastics) are a problem: their limited, one-time usage, the lack of customization, and of course the cost – both monetary and environmental all act as barriers to progress for the 3D industry. Structur3d has always shared this view, which is why we encourage people to go beyond plastic for their printing projects.

People have to understand that 3D printing is wasteful; it uses a ton of electricity and materials. To make it sustainable we need to consider the repercussions. With the Protocycler, users are able to make their own custom polymers, change colors, and most importantly—RECYCLE! Recycle old projects, failed prints, unused filament bits. Moreover you can filamentize (new word as of now) things like coffee cup lids and shopping bags. The grinder, separate from the other functions, accepts many recyclable plastics and is easy to clean.

From a broader perspective, I asked Dennon whether an industrial sized Protocyler was in the company’s future. With 715 tonnes of plastic lids ending up in Toronto every year, the province sure could use it. To my surprise, Dennon told me that he’s already been approached by a few companies wanting to set up larger-scale units to prevent waste from going into the ocean. While this is a possibility in their future, ReDeTec’s number one priority today is their Indiegogo Backers.

Nevertheless, the company has made us think differently about 3DP, which was their goal from the very beginning. The market is filling up with competitors; although between us, ReDeTec still seems to have a better product.

This idea could also grow to accommodate city-scale development. If we are going to be printing buildings and cars, recycled materials can and should be used. In the future, the 3D printing industry could be used to get rid of waste materials rather than being yet another one creating it.