Filabot began back in 2011 in the same way that a lot of small businesses get their start: with a Kickstarter campaign. Our campaign raised more than 323% of its funding goal—not too shabby for what began with a whiteboard and the simple idea for turning waste plastic into feedstock for 3D printers.
In its most basic sense, the mission of Filabot is to provide the hardware that converts plastic into usable material. We do this in a few different ways. We do it through recycling and by using new material mixtures. When we’re talking about recycling, we’re talking about plastic that is thrown away or left to pollute our local parks and waterways. Or, about breaking down old products to reuse the plastic in our own machines. Basically, we like to find new ways to use material that people don’t care about anymore. It’s sort of our thing.
In general, actually, we believe that plastic is underutilized. But not in the way you might think. Plastic is underutilized in the sense that traditionally, recycling has only worked on a large industrial scale, requiring high volumes of material in order to make it economical for the waste companies involved.
As you might guess, this leaves behind small waste streams of plastic that are not useful for any industrial purpose. That’s where we come in. We want to change the status quo by building machines that can utilize small volumes of plastic—just a pound or less to start converting—the kind of bags, bottles, and cartons that most of us encounter every day.
In many remote and undeveloped areas of the world, plastic is both underutilized and abundant. It can’t be converted unless it can be downcycled, a key part of the recycling process. Left to their own devices, these products are typically known as “single use plastics,” meaning they are used only one time before being discarded. Not ideal.
But we’ve always felt that when it comes to plastic, beauty and value are in the eye of the beholder. And to us, single use plastics are anything but trash. This discarded material is of high purity, meaning that with proper up cycling, it can be processed and recycled into new products in locations all over the world.
From hand-cranked power generators to prosthetic limbs, the ability to create feedstock for 3D printing at the location where they’re needed can drastically lower costs, improve lead times, and help to reduce plastic pollution. By giving companies the ability to upcycle plastics wherever they’re found, our Filabot machines are taking the “single” out of single use plastics, and so much more.
We’re helping to create complex parts to solve today’s complex problems, and if we’ve done it right, we’re also helping to make the world a little better along the way.