Making Beautiful Products From the Waste of a 3D-printer




About: Industrial Design Student, Maker and Life Enjoyer

I worked on this project for a long time and now it is time to share it with the world. I made different products from the waste of a 3D-printer. I will explain how to melt PLA plastic and how to cut it to make new products with this amazing material. The idea is to melt the PLA plastic in an oven and cut it out with a lasercutter, the possibilities are endless. You recycle used material to make new products. You can compost them or even melt them again if you are done with them. What I already made with this material are earrings and a little lamp. Have fun making! I am happy to share my project with you guys!

Examples of what you can make:

- Earrings

- Rings

- Chains

- Lamps (use LED so the plastic will not melt from the heat)

- Buttons

- Countless other products!

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: Finding the Materials and Preparation


- Electric oven;
- PLA plastic (from failed 3D prints);
- Silicon baking mat;
- Laser cutter (you can go to a FabLab in your neighborhood);
- Design program like Illustrator/ Inkskape

Let's start!

Put some PLA plastic on the silicon baking mat. Make an estimation for the proper amount, you can always add more! To get the effect I created, you have to use small bits of PLA plastic.

Tip 1: If you do not have enough small pieces of PLA, you can always melt your PLA in advance and make smaller pieces. This is what I did for my ear-rings and lamp.

Tip 2: If you add enough transparent PLA the sun or other light will show the beautiful structure of the material

Step 2: Baking

Heat the oven to a temperature between 225 and 230 degrees. (Do not heat above 250 degrees because the material will burn. Maybe you need to experiment a little bit.

Put your plate of PLA plastic in the oven and check it several times. Add some extra material when holes appear in your plate. Your plate is done when it has approximately a thickness of 2 mm. The oven time is more or less one or two hours. This depends on how many times you have to add plastic.

Wait until your plate is nice and flat and take your plate out of the oven to let it cool down. Then take it off the silicon baking mat.

Step 3: Laser Cutting Your Design

Make your design in a program like Illustrator or Inkskape. Put the cooled down PLA in the laser cutter and cut it out with the dot function. This is a special function on the laser cutter which makes small dots next to each other to cut out the form of your design. You can ONLY use the dot function to cut the PLA because otherwise the PLA melts when you cut it.

The settings for the laser cutter:

Speed 300 mm/s
Min. Power: 100 %
Max. power: 70%
Processing modus: Laser dot
Dot time (s): 0,01 s
Dot interval: 0,10 mm

Not every laser cutter is the same, so maybe you have to adjust this settings to get the best result!

Enjoy your little artwork or give it as a present to a friend!

Please upload pictures of your work and let me know what you think. Goodluck!

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Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

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    14 Discussions


    1 year ago

    My students are very anxious to try some of these ideas


    2 years ago

    I have not worked with this material although I do have a source or two. Can you cut this with ordinary hand or power tools? Do you have to use a laser cutter?

    8 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi mrsmerwin, I have never tried it, but tell me if it works! If you cut it with ordinary tools, you can melt the edges a little bit to make it look finished. Goodluck!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Hacksaw and fine files?

    Scroll saw?



    Reply 2 years ago

    Holesaw would definitely work for these.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Sorry, I have no idea unfortunately. I only tried it with a laser cutter. Try it and tell me what works out the best!


    Reply 2 years ago

    I'm not sure how this stuff is when it's still warm, but I'm envisioning cutting it into strips with a rotary cutter, then molding them into cuff bracelets before it hardens. I've seen it done with heat-softened vinyl records, I wonder if this stuff would behave.


    Reply 2 years ago

    that sounds like it could work. I will have to try it next week in the robotics workshop. We are going to try to turn scraps from the robot build into jewelry and key chains.


    2 years ago

    Cool. Knew I was saving those brims and rafts for a reason. Thanks

    Very cool. I love the Jackson Pollock feel that these mixes have.