RUG/Pennsylvania/State College/Waste Reclamation System

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The Recycling System at Penn State University is composed of two parts. It began with students begining to build a Filament Extruder to produce new plastic filament, and is being expanded to include a grinder to break down larger raw materials.

Filament Extruder

Following Lyman's model we will be able to feed pellets of used Polyethylene into a hopper that leads into a auger. This will then feed the pellets into a heating rod that will then extrude the material out of a brass tip as usable filament. We are currently working with Lyman's Second model and may in the future add on elements from his third model. This could include a cooling pool as well as an attached spool to hold the filament.

Current Progress

Penn State RUG has begun very preliminary initial research on a waste reclamation system for turning polyethylene into filament. Further research will be conducted over coming semesters and information will be updated here.

Spring 2013: This semester of the 3D printing class has begun purchasing and assembling the parts for the Lyman Filament Extruder. The project is being worked on in conjunction with other Mechanical Engineering students. Currently the wooden frame is being cut out and is starting to be assembled.

Fall 2013: This semester, Fall 2013, two students, Beresford Pratt and Peter Dorsey, have undertook the responsibility of assembling a Lyman Filament Extruder, This extruder allows us to recycle used material and produce new filament to print. We have continued the work from last semester and have made great strides towards completion. We intend to have this extruder up and running before February 2014.

So far we have assembled a frame and managed to build the auger and are working on attaching the heating coil. We should be able to run filament through the machine this week. We have our bike chain and gears ready to be attached we are just waiting on our motor and electronics to arrive to be assembled.

Spring 2014: This semester progress is being continued by Beresford Pratt, Samuel Carroll, and Dimitri Lewicki. Little progress has been made so far, but current projects are working out the details of the drive train, gathering recyclable materials, and getting the electronics hooked up.

More details to follow


Different types of polyethylene are being considered as material choices. Polyethylene has a low melting point (between 248 and 265 degrees F), can be melted and reshaped repeatedly, non-toxic, and produces little to no fumes. Two different types that can be used for 3-D printing are High Density (#2) and Low Density (#4).

Plastic Recycling Code Chart Have you ever wondered what those recycling symbols and numbers are on the bottom of various plastics? Well, they identify the type of plastic. Plastic Codes.png

Processing Considerations

The milk jugs first will need to be shredded. This can be done by hand with scissors but would not be efficient on a larger scale. The idea of obtaining a heavy strength paper shredder is proposed. Other ideas are a blender or home made grinder. To melt the plastic, a heating element is needed. Potential elements for experimentation were considered from a toaster, glue gun, coffee maker, or hair dryer. Nicrome wire is a good idea and can be found in toasters and hair dryers. Leads for further research are to look into "hobby injection molding" and "vacuum forming". We are also able to use the filament from failed prints and over extrusion in this model so that we can make sure to get the most out of our filament.

The process for the filament extruder is as follows: 1. We shred plastic of filament into pellets 2. Then we feed the pellets into the hopper 3. The hopper drops the pellets into the auger. 4. The auger then pushes the pellets through our heat sync and into the heated tip 5. The pellets will then melt as they are pushed to the extruder 6. The extruder then extrudes our printable filament from our recycled materials


The Lyman Filament Extruder uses a typical outlet for power. This leads through a standard circuit board, we are looking at possibly using an arduino. This then feeds to a wiper motor that we use to turn our auger through a bicycle chain attached to two bike gears one on the motor and the other on our auger. We will also have switches for powering the heat and motor. These need to be separate so the hot tip can heat up without trying to feed material through the auger.


A one gallon, HDPE, milk jug was cut into small pieces and placed in an electric oven. The temperature was raised to various temperatures above the melting point range between 248 and 265 degrees F. It was found that when heated beyond 300 degrees F the material begins to "brown". The material, when melted, was not a flowing liquid consistency but rather thick and pliable. This shows that the material will need to some how be forced or pulled to the tip in the forthcoming design.


These are pictures of the model we are basing off of, taken from

These pictures are of our version of the Extruder:

Mechanical Grinder

We want to build a grinder based of of plans by FilaMaker. This machined grinder is made out of various metals, and has been shown to grind everything from , plastic milk jugs, bottles, legos, bags, pop cans, and even toy matchbox cars, liscense plates, metal wire, an more! Watch what it's capable here.

Current Progress

Spring 2014 Still in the research and development stage, this project is being tackled by Sam Carroll and Carson Geib. We're currently looking over the plans annd materials available from FilaMaker, and trying to begin machining the parts.