26 September 2019
A new Federally funded microfactory unveiled at the University of NSW is helping to deliver world first technologies that include turning discarded plastic into high quality 3D printing filaments.
Innovations developed at UNSW’s Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) also include turning contaminated and mixed plastic into furniture products and into revolutionary ‘Vitakets’ used in making steel.
The new plastics microfactory is a commercial scale model developed at UNSW’s Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT).
Its micro recycling technology is the culmination of years of work led by SMaRT Centre Director, Professor Veena Sahajwalla and allows industries to build modular recycling solutions with can be scaled up as demand grows.
The micro factory’s 3D printing filament is a clear guide to what can be achieved.
As an example, we currently export waste plastic and import filament for use in schools and business applications, this technology can change that and create Australian jobs.
The great thing about this and the other technologies being developed is that it has completed its pilot testing phase and is now producing exciting new products.
SMaRT Centre works with industry partners including western Sydney Electronics recycler TES who are producing Vitakets for Newcastle based steel maker MolyCop as a replacement for coking coal.
Professor Sahajwalla said: “Frankly, we could not have done this without the Government’s support, as well as from our industry partners who recognise the benefits of research and development.
“Apart from the economic benefits, there are obvious short and long term environmental and social benefits from being able to reform many hard to manage waste streams into new materials and products, and keeping these materials in use for as long as possible.”
Creating new supply chains and value from discarded materials can help Australia be at the forefront on the fight against waste and create jobs. Almost all of the filament used for 3D printing in Australia is imported but this capability could see Australian firms creating new markets.