3D Printing FilamentsSustainability

Solaris is upcycling ocean plastic waste into 3D printing filament

From the collection of ocean plastics to the printed end products

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The Sweden-based Solaris Community is on a mission to renovate the product development system. From upcycling different sources of waste and producing premium recycled materials to developing and manufacturing sustainable products of different categories. Through their Ocean Plastic Project, Solaris will communicate and demonstrate the upmarket value of recycled maritime plastic with 3D printing manufacturing, in conjunction with the United Nations’ “Closing the Loop” Program, a clean ocean initiative aimed at preventing marine plastic in Asia and The Pacific, and Solar – where satellites and artificial intelligence help find plastic waste in our waterways. Solaris then employs innovative technologies to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic waste to foster circular economies.

​The process starts with the collection of ocean plastics. Together with social enterprises, Solaris collects ocean-bound plastic in Southeast Asia, coordinated by their #tide subsidiary in Ranong, Thailand. On five islands in the Andaman Sea, local fishermen are being trained and paid to gather and sort plastic waste.

Solaris is upcycling ocean plastic waste into 3D printing filament. From the collection of ocean plastics to the printed end products.
Ocean plastic collecting. Source: Solaris

The material is then registered, washed, and shredded in a social enterprise which is being implemented by the Swiss non-profit Jan and Oscar Foundation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Sorting. Source: Solaris
Shredding. Source: Solaris

After this, the material is tested and produced in partnership with the Institute for Materials Technology and Plastics Processing (IWK), a branch of the University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule für Technik) in Rapperswil, Switzerland.

Compounding. Source: Solaris

The Institute for Materials Technology and Plastics Processing (IWK) has developed a method that regenerates the plastic and reverses the damage caused by the UV rays and saltwater the plastic trash was exposed to while floating in the ocean or washed ashore.

Regenerating. Source: Solaris

After a series of upcycling processes, the ocean plastic gains a second life and is ready to redeem itself. It reaches a similar quality as the same type of virgin plastic.

Fresh plastic flakes. Source: Solaris

To make the recycled ocean plastic usable for FFF/FDM 3D printers, the flakes are processed with an extrusion machine to produce the filaments.

Solaris is upcycling ocean plastic waste into 3D printing filament. From the collection of ocean plastics to the printed end products.
Extrusion. Source: Solaris

The result, a 100% recycled material filament, is made possible through a collaborative effort with Creamelt 3D printing material. Using this filament, one can 3D print durable products and artworks with great chemical and heat resistance.

Solaris is upcycling ocean plastic waste into 3D printing filament. From the collection of ocean plastics to the printed end products.
Filament. Source: Solaris

Solaris, their collaborative model, and their creations have already reached international acclaim within the world of design – working with world-renowned designers such as Karim Rashid, Iris Van Herpen, and Dima Loginoff, to name only a few.

To demonstrate the upmarket value of recycled ocean plastic, Solaris collaborated with Swarovski Designing Future Lab, Tide Ocean plastic, and Creamelt 3D printing material to create a wearable work of art.

Recycled glass crystal, created in collaboration with Swarovski’s 3D printing glass technology. Source: Solaris

Among Solaris’ other notable creations are the lamps designed by Dima Loginoff and printed, using recycled plastic, in partnership with AON3D.

3D printed lamps designed by Dima Loginoff. Source: Solaris Community LinkedIn

To learn more about another similar upcycling ocean waste initiative within the 3D printing industry, check out this article on Aectual and DUS architects collaborative effort recycle beach plastic waste.

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746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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