- Arizona State University robotics engineering students Joshua Kosar and Riley Chicci have developed 3DCycler, "a product and a system" that turns recyclable plastics into filament for 3-D printers. The two started working on the system in January out of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering lab, and financed it themselves.
- After winning a business pitch competition in Phoenix, they entered and won other competitions across the U.S., gathering funding. The team was chosen to be part of this fall's Edson Program, a group of 21 startups out of the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative at Arizona State.
- The 3DCycler team expects to launch its full product in January 2016, sending its first wave of devices out for testing. The machines are expected to cost $1,500. The designers plan on getting feedback "before we start launching to larger companies like arenas and schools and municipalities," Kosar said. "We’re excited to change the way the maker community recycles."
Kosar asked, "Why can’t we recycle this stuff that we have sitting around the lab?" That "stuff" included water bottles, party cups, and Tupperware.
"We’re doing something weird with parts that are off the shelf," added Chicci.
Arizona State encourages entrepreneurship through its Fulton Engineering Startup Center and the Startup Labs based on the Polytechnic campus. The Center is "an initiative to promote coursework and funding and support for entrepreneurial ventures across the six schools of engineering," director Brent Sebold said. Its opening party is Nov. 19, during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Many innovative recycling ideas are coming out of universities. At the University of Colorado Denver, Professor Julee Herdt has developed BioSIPS, which are building panels created from waste material, such as hemp and food waste. Washington State University has partnered with the Composite Recycling Technology Center in Port Angeles, WA, that will convert carbon fiber composite scrap material, left over from transportation and other manufacturing industries, into new products. And Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, CA is testing EcoFuel Technologies' PTF100, which can convert plastic into fuel.
Any of these ideas could have potential growth implications for the recycling industry, particularly plastics.