When you are dealing with 3D printing, you will need to think about ABS as a probable material. ABS isn’t the safest material to use in your 3D printing for the environment. Because of that, you have to know about ABS recyclers. And that’s what I will be providing you here today.
There are several steps in the process of ABS recycling. The first one is the separation of the ABS, then it goes through grinding, and finally, there is melting and reforming of the material. The process can be either done at home or municipal level. Here, I will mainly talk about the process you can follow at home.
Well, you might have learned about the basic process, but there is a lot more to know when it comes to the actual procedure. So, I suggest you bear with me until the end to learn about recycling ABS material.
What makes up ABS plastic, and what are the properties?
ABS or acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene is an excellent material whenever you think about durability or strength. Using ABS in your 3D printing is to get strong quality builds in your 3D models.
The properties that give the material its strength are usually acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. All three elements work together to provide that strength and smooth finish on the material.
Until now, it all sounds quite good, no? So, what’s the problem with ABS material? Well, the real problem lies in its source. The source for ABS is petrochemical products. These kinds of products aren’t biodegradable. As a result, using these things can harm the environment.
Since it’s not biodegradable, the only responsible thing you can do as a user of ABS is to recycle it. And that’s what this is all about. Let’s get ahead and see how the process works and how you can go through that.
The recycling process of ABS
Typically, in the earlier days, you as a regular citizen wouldn’t have to worry about recycling ABS. Because, for the most part, you weren’t using the material directly in your lives.
But with the likes of 3D printing, a lot of people are coming across ABS as their filament material. This leads to the need to deal with the material and recycle it to better the environment.
Luckily, the basic process is the same in every scenario, whether it’s done at home or at any recycling facility. The steps taken for recycling are pretty much the same; only the volume of the ABS material being recycled differs. Enough blabbering; let’s check out the different steps involved in the process.
Separating the ABS
The first step to this whole thing is to separate the ABS. You have to make sure you are taking away the ABS from the other types of plastics. While you are on that, make sure to remove any kind of debris or contaminants they may have around the ABS.
If you are doing it at home, you don’t need to worry about using any kind of product for the separation. You can simply do it during the collection period.
All you have to do is keep the ABS material in a different container. It’s better to do it during the collection period. Otherwise, you have to separate the whole thing one by one, which can take up a lot of time and effort.
Once you have gone through the separation phase, you can move on to the next process step.
Grinding the ABS
In the next step, you have to get through grinding the ABS. Now, here things can get tricky when you are doing this at home. Because at home, you won’t have those industrial recycling units with powerful grinding features. You will need to design something yourself.
Usually, consumer grinders can work out pretty well for grinding the material. However, this can harm the grinder blades as they are not designed for shredding or grinding the plastic. You can also try using paper shredders if you have one.
When this process takes place in an industrial grade, this is the quickest step out of all the other steps. But when you are grinding ABS at home, you will need to spend quite a lot of time on it.
The grinding process should leave you with granules that have a diameter of somewhere around 0.5cm. Once you feel you have got that down, you can move on to the next step.
Melting the ABS and reforming it
Now, it’s the most straightforward thing to do in the last step. You have to melt the ABS and reform it into the required item. For that, you can simply feed the granule ABS to the extruder and wait for the extrusion to form it in your desired shape.
When you are doing this at home, you will most likely think about getting 3D printing filament from the recycling process. But you have to make sure that you are doing the proper tinkering on the material to get the smoothest and most consistent level of filament diameter.
To get the best results, you will need to keep the extruder’s temperature to a higher level. A higher temperature helps in getting excellent smoothness. And with the nozzle thickness, you get the right thickness on the reformation.
After the reformation is done, you can easily use the ABS once again. Now, typically, you can recycle ABS two or more times. But keep in mind that every time you recycle ABS, it loses some of its base quality. For instance, a recycled ABS won’t be as durable as it used to be because of the lack of tensile strength.
So, if you are dealing with projects that require your models to have the best possible strength, then I recommend using fresh or new ABS. But if it’s something of a hobby project or doesn’t require that much stronger, then you can easily use the recycled ABS for your purpose.
Uses you can get out of ABS
Aside from recycling your ABS, you can also try reusing it or repurposing your ABS material. You can simply use different methods to suit various needs to do that.
With acetone mixture
A great way to make use of your ABS material is by applying acetone. You can either fix your ABS 3D printed models or just melt the whole thing in different ratios of acetone.
You can use acetone on your prints to use them as welding joints. You can also use acetone to remove any kind of blemishes or fix ABS supports on your 3D prints. These are some typical things you can try out in a combination of acetone and ABS.
Bed adhesion element
You may not know this, but you can use your ABS material on the print bed to get better bed adhesion on it. You somehow have to turn the ABS into a form of juice. To do that, you can use acetone with the proper ratios to dissolve them completely. You should be looking for milk-like consistency in it.
After that, you can apply it to your glass print bed or Kapton taped print bed. It works with both options. Just be aware that you are not using this in any plastic print bed. It can damage any plastic print bed you may have.
One of the best and most effective uses you can get out of your ABS material is to turn them into bonding glue. All you have to do is dissolve ABS with the use of acetone. But this time, the ratio you use the acetone with ABS will be double compared to making ABS juice.
After the ABS is dissolved, it should have a similar consistency to white glue that you use regularly. You can store it in a suitable container and then use it as weld bonds for various jointing parts made of ABS initially.
You can use the glue on other materials as well. But you have to keep in mind that it only works on material soluble in acetone.
As you can see, there are plenty of uses that you can get from your unused ABS material. So, recycling isn’t the only way to get rid of the material. However, it surely is the best and easiest way to do so.
To sum up this whole conversation of ABS recyclers, I would say it’s a great way to care for your environment. Because the harm ABS materials can cause to the environment is pretty serious, and you would want to avoid it as much as you can.
Since ABS is also a crucial part of 3D printing, there is no real way to avoid its use of it altogether. So, the best you can do is recycle it and reduce the environmental threat by a little bit. Doing your little bit can be of big help to the environment anyway.