JP Gleyzes' Pullstruder Turns Waste Plastic Bottles Into Useful 3D Printer Filament

Once a PET bottle is processed into ribbon, using a handy custom-built tool the pullstruder automatically turns it into filament on a spool.

Maker JP Gleyzes has been working on a process for reducing the environmental impact of both single-use plastic bottles and 3D printing — by converting the former into filament for the latter.

"People are really concerned about plastic pollution and waste of resources," Gleyzes writes. "This project is not 'THE' answer but may clearly participate to the global awareness on this topic. Recycling bottles into filament is overall an easy process. Today I mostly print with this filament and more than 100 bottles have been turned into new 'recycled pieces.'"

Gleyzes' original pullstruder design was shown off in a video last year, and has since been tested and tweaked. (📹: JP Gleyzes)

The secret to Gleyzes' success: A device they and other makers have come to call a "pullstruder," which implements a surprisingly simple process for recycling bottles into filament: Just cut the bottle into a thin ribbon then force said ribbon through a printer's hot-end while pulling it slowly and regularly.

Efforts at commercial pullstruders have been made, but Gleyzes is looking to something more DIY — right down to the bottle cutter itself, designed to create the initial plastic ribbon, which is made from nuts, bolts, and two sharp roller bearings. The resulting ribbon is then fed into a spool holder — itself 3D printed, naturally — before being fed through the pullstruder itself.

"It is," Gleyzes explains, "composed of: A 3d printed spool holder; a heater block into which is going the ribbon (scrap piece of aluminum); a PID controller to get a consistent 200°C on the heater block; a car wiper motor (scrap from my old car) + a 3d printed small gear; a big spool (scrap from a filament roll) + big 3d printed gear; and a PC ATC power supply (scrap from an old PC tower)."

The simplicity of the pullstruder design and low price mean, Gleyzes claims, "even middle school children could do it," while the filament created from the waste bottles is suitable for a range of print jobs — and, thanks to the pullstruder, should be free from changes in thickness or density that could cause snaps or blockages during printing.

The full project write-up is now available on Gleyzes' page, complete with a step-by-step guide to building each part of the pullstruder system from bottle-cutter to the pullstruder itself.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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