3D Printing for Recycled Rubber

rael-rubber2At construction and architecture conference REAL 2015, the co-founders of Emerging Objects, Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello presented some interesting concepts based on 2D printing and the use of recycled materials including plastics, wood, metal, and recycled rubber. In addition to that, however, considering the recent worldwide advancements of 3D printing and according to Emerging Objects, virtually anything is possible. As long as a model can be created on a computer, one can print it in almost any given material.

The company Emerging Objects have been on the cutting edge of 3D printing, bringing to fruition uses which have never been seen before from the technology. Whether it is 3D printing with new materials such as tea, salt, or coffee, or if it is creating large structures which depict where the future of architecture may be going, the company, co-founded by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, continues to surprise us with their latest innovative techniques.

rael1-rubberAt the recent REAL 2015 conference, Ronald Rael was on hand to give a very interesting talk, touching on the question, “What if 3D printable materials were durable, affordable, inexpensive and ecological?” As Rael and San Fratello are both architects, they also are constantly looking at the idea of 3D printing architecture, as we have seen with several of their interesting projects in the past.

The first material that I want to tell you about is rubber,” said Rael. “There are about 300 million tires that are thrown away every year. Fortunately about 80% of those tires are recycled, but we want to find a use for the other 20% that aren’t, and maybe that’s a 3D printable material.

Emerging Objects has taken these tires and put them through a cryogenic process where they are frozen and then turned into a powder which was then used to 3D print objects. The hope is that perhaps this 3D printed rubber could be used as a future building material. Rubber is a very forgiving material, so the potential seems to be there for future architecture.

Also, on a much more mundane level, there may well be opportunities as 3D printing advances, to use 3D printing with rubber to produce small production at low cost. According to Tyre and Rubber Recycling, this has to be a market worth considering as an outlet for rubber powder.

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