A startup produces 3d printer filament from plastic wastes

Since last two decades, the pollution has been increased exponentially in India. Simultaneously, the growing population of the country also contribute its share in it. The newly launched ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission is still struggling to maintain its momentum and it has still a long way to go in order to see cleaner India. But one should not under estimate the strength of young and enthusiastic entrepreneurs across the country . They not only want technologically revolutionary life but also want their surrounding cleaner, healthier and eco-friendly. Since last couple of years, we have seen some startup who started working on recycling or waste management technologies and doing great these days. Let’s have a look on one of the best and the most innovative among them.


Three years back in March 2012, MIT graduate Sidhant Pai started a social enterprise named ‘Protoprint’ in order to empower earning capabilities and livelihood of the waste pickers in Pune.  It is certainly an innovative startup that helps rag pickers by giving them access to the technology that is necessary to transform plastic thrashes into raw material for 3D printer filament. The filament produced is marketed globally as a recycled alternative to virgin filament, at a competitive price. Without any doubt, it’s the first of its kind in India. They have formed a partnership with local waste picker co-operative called ‘SWaCH’ who bring in waste they collect from various parts of the city to a lab run by Protoprint.

At the lab, the waste pickers bring their HDPE plastics which is equipped with a ‘FlakerBot’ for shredding plastic and a ‘RefilBot’ for converting the shredded plastic into filament.

Creating filament from waste plastics is actually more complex than it seems. Different 3D printers use filament with differing chemical compositions and sizes. The future phases in Protoprint’s development will be to work on the standardization of sizes and qualities of filament, for creating a greater compatibility between printers and the Protoprint filament.

As a result of the partnership, waste pickers are able to earn, on average 15 times more than they would for raw plastic material in the same amount. This effort by Protoprint is one of a number of efforts to introduce sustainable practices to 3D printing and to show that advanced technology and eco-friendly initiatives are not at odds with each other.


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