The 3D Printer That Sustainably Prints Paper Waste

After concerns over the plastic that 3D printers create, a designer has produced a possible solution – a 3D printer that sustainably prints paper waste.

With the recent push for businesses and organizations to go ‘plastic free’, the 3D printing industry has also been put under strain as of late. Worries such as the release of nanoparticles into the air by 3D printer units and long-term health concerns from producing 3D prints have come to the forefront. However, Designer Beer Holthuis has been able to produce a 3D printer that uses a sustainable material we all tend to use – paper pulp.

Printing with Paper Waste

What could initially be considered as an unusual concept, printing with paper waste provides good use of a material that we produce regularly. According to statistics, we produce almost 80 kilos of paper waste per year per person. Therefore, using paper waste as a printing material could produce a much more sustainable approach to that of regular plastic. Currently, a 3D printer that prints using paper already exists. Holthuis however feels that directly printing out paper waste as a 3D printer’s main material is a better environmental solution in the long term.

How the Paper Pulp Printer Works

Keeping things simple, Holthuis has named his printer as the Paper Pulp Printer. The printer works by firstly taking regular paper waste which is then combined with a natural binder. Doing this means that the items the printer produces can be recycled again after their use ends. Being able to reuse the finished objects through recycling makes the entire process closed loop and further increases its sustainability. The paper waste is then extruded through an object similar to a syringe from a pressure vessel inside the 3D printer. The only difficulty arising from this perhaps is how to stop the print nozzles becoming blocked on occasions.

3D Printed Object Paper Waste

Image Credit: Beer Holthuis (beerholthuis.com)

Commenting on some of the objects his printer has produced, Holthuis states “The design of the printed objects are using the possibilities and beauty of this technique. The tactile experience, bold lines and print speed results in distinctive shapes. The objects are also durable: printed paper is surprisingly strong.

Final Thoughts

After viewing some of the incredible objects that the Paper Pulp Printer has produced, the standard is certainly impressive. Each design stands out and due to the way that the paper waste creates layers during the printing process, it could become effective in making objects look aged visually. This is in part to the pulp also creating a Flintstone type of effect too. The printer’s low cost for output and overall sustainable values makes it an intriguing proposition too. If adopted by other designers, paper waste as a material for 3D printing could become popular. Furthermore, the environmentally friendly aspects can only serve it well in today’s world.

To learn more about the Paper Pulp Printer and its designer, Beer Holthuis, click here

Sam Rose