The idea of 3-D printing is exploding right now in almost every sector! Today, I am happy to introduce you, the listeners, to my son, Trent Esser. Trent and his friend are starting a 3-D printing company in St Louis, called Printerior. The company is currently in the beta testing phase, and they are getting ready to have their first product launch within the next two to four weeks. Trent is joining me on the show today to talk about his exciting new venture and explain how 3-D printing works.
For this episode, I get the chance to do something cool that I have never done before! I will be working with my son for the very first time!
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach, and I have my dedicated co-host, Tony Pratte, joining me in the studio today. Be sure to stay tuned to hear what 3-D printing is all about and find out how Trent aims to use 3-D printers to solve the world’s plastic waste problem.
Trent and his team moved into their production facility about a month ago. They are done with the construction phase now and are finally getting everything set up and ready to start production.
Printerior is a sustainable additive manufacturing company.
Their goal is to help solve the world’s plastic waste problem by using 3-D printers and waste plastic to create sustainable products.
A new way
3-D printing is a new way of manufacturing almost anything and everything. It has taken a while to get started in the US, but Trent and his team are working on accelerating things.
Using already-existing plastic
Trent uses recycled plastic for the feedstock for his 3-D printing, so he is guaranteed to have enough supply for the rest of his life.
100% recycled filament
Right now, they are creating 100% recycled filament for 3-D printers.
What the filament for 3-D printing is
The filament for 3-D printers is a bit like the ink in an ink-jet printer. It allows the printer to build up layers and create a shape. The filament is the actual plastic that makes every print.
Almost all plastics are made from petroleum products. We are starting to see more and more plastics made from corn and potato starch, however. In the US, corn starch gets used for making PLA plastic.
Different variations of plastic
3-D printing uses different variations of plastic. These include the traditional PLA bioplastic, made from plant material rather than petroleum, and many other kinds of plastic ranging from ABS to PETG, depending on the specific requirement for each application.
What compostable plastic means
Although compostable plastic was branded as eco-friendly, it is not quite true. Compostable plastic can only be composted in a commercial composting center because it takes a lot of heat and pressure to do it. There are very few commercial composting centers, and most of them will not compost plastic of any kind.
A full recycling service
Printerior creates filament from plastic waste sources and 3D printing waste collected through the Printerior Recycling Program. This 100% recycled-content filament is then used to make new 3D prints, completing the cycle.
Who they work with
Printerior works with universities, school districts, maker spaces, and small-scale businesses that use 3-D printing to manufacture their products.
Sometimes, prints fail, and the product does not come out as intended. Printerior incentivizes businesses, schools and consumers by recycling the scrap that they would normally throw away and then giving them a discount on their next order of feedstock filament based on the amount of plastic they recycle.
A tricky process
Although making plastic from recycled plastic sounds easy, once you get down to the finer details, it can be a tricky process. It requires clean feedstock, formed in the right way, that comes out in the right consistency with the correct material quality. The whole process is not cheap, and it takes a lot of effort.
Easy to buy
Trent’s product has to be as easy to buy as new plastic to be competitive. Although it took a lot of time and effort to get established, things will soon start going more smoothly for them.
What they make
Apart from making 3-D filament, Printerior also has a print farm. They can make almost any product that is approximately a cubic foot in size.
How 3-D printing can spark entrepreneurship
3-D printing allows many different products to be brought to market faster, without the large cash requirements to cover the molding costs for manufacturing plastic products.
So far, 3-D printing has been cost-competitive, up to about fifty to one-hundred-thousand parts. After that, injection molding is more cost-effective because it is faster.
The manufacture of COVID face shields took off during the pandemic, and they were in short supply. So, 3-D printer communities from around the country banded together and produced millions of them that went out to hospitals in days rather than months.
The building industry
3-D printers are also making their way into the building industry right now.
How it started
A while back, Trent and his friend, Hayden, now his business partner, got into large-format printing. (That is where their company is heading for the future).
University of Missouri EQ Accelerator
They participated in the University of Missouri EQ Accelerator (Entrepreneurship Alliance), from which they received some seed funding.
After that, Trent went to Europe to learn about large-format 3-D printers. He loved what he learned there and came back full of enthusiasm for his new project.
Unfortunately, he arrived back home one week before everything shut down due to the pandemic.
When things started settling down again, they reached out to their partners, who told them that it would take more than a year to get things going. So Trent and his partner decided to pivot into making filament for the consumer market.
Easily recyclable and sustainable
They want everything they manufacture to be easily recyclable and sustainably sourced.
3-D printing has taken off
3-D printing has taken off and become cost-effective. The cost of good-quality 3-D printers has dropped drastically.
Some school districts even have entire curricula based around 3-D printing and additive manufacturing.
A great team
Trent and his business partner, Hayden, are both very artistic and creative. Trent has an entrepreneurial spirit, and Hayden is an engineer and designer. They have also brought a third co-founder, Jordan, on board. Jordan is an expert in computer science and electrical engineering.
Making a dent in the climate crisis
Manufacturing has a huge footprint. By using 3-D printers and recycled material for manufacturing, and recycling plastic, Trent and his team are doing their best to put a dent in the climate crisis.
SHOP Recycled 3D Printer Filament – 15% discount on your first order with coupon code GREENHOMECOACH
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