Stratasys, (NASDAQ: SSYS) a maker of additive manufacturing machines for prototyping and producing plastic parts, announced two more programs in its environmental stewardship initiative, announced last year. The programs include an ambitious expansion of the company’s material carrier recycling program, and an extension of Ecoworks™ cleaning agent to the company’s full line of support-cleaning systems.
Program averts 115 truckloads from landfill
Though informally offered to customers for five years, Stratasys redesigned its consumable-plastic-material carrier recycling program to notch up customer participation among Dimension® 3D Printer and Fortus® 3D Production system owners. The program directs users to return their spent material spools, cartridges and canisters to the factory for refurbishing and reuse to prevent other disposal means. The program includes an intuitive website that prompts users through a quick process to generate a return label to the factory.
“After listening to our resellers and end users, we knew we needed to streamline the process as well as improve awareness,” says Stratasys business development director Fred Fischer. “Customers found the old program unclear and cumbersome or were unaware it existed. Our new simplified program eliminates the problem by making it easy to participate.”
Currently the logistics of small shipments across international borders limit the program to Europe and the US, although further expansion is being studied. For European and US customers, clear and prominent instructions on the consumable-plastic box direct users to www.Stratasys.com/recycle, where they’re prompted through the return process. For other geographic areas, instructions are available to help with local recycling.
“We believe the new recycling program will significantly increase participation, reducing our technology’s environmental footprint by keeping the plastic carriers out of landfills,” says Fischer. “We have an ambitious plan to double the participation rate in 2011.”
With the informal recycling program, an average of 36 garbage trucks (1200 yards) of material waste were annually reused or recycled instead of dumped in landfills. From program inception through 2010, 4000 yards – equivalent to 115 garbage truck loads – of spent plastic carriers were returned to the factory for reuse or recycling rather than being land-filled.
Today — of the material carriers returned to Stratasys — more than 95% are reused or recycled. Stratasys aims to continue streamlining the process, increasing participation rates and the volume of carriers it reuses or recycles.
Ecoworks: A green clean
In the process of creating a plastic part, 3D printers create disposable structures that support overhangs and other features that need a base to build upon. These structures get removed when the part is complete. Stratasys “soluble supports” are dissolved in a water-based cleaning agent.
Ecoworks is a cleaning agent that was initially designed for a single support-cleaning system. The agent is now available for all soluble support-removal systems for FDM® and all soluble support materials, including SR-10, SR-20, and SR-30.
The cleaning agent was engineered as an environmentally friendly solution that can be drained in most standard plumbing systems after use. The solution’s pH level generally meets drain water requirements worldwide. “Ecoworks is an eco-friendly and a user-friendly cleaning agent for companies that have strong environmental initiatives or strict local waste water regulations,” says Stratasys product manager Mary Stanley. The cleaning agent comes in individual packets that dissolve and release contents when submersed in water, so the powder is not airborne. Key features include:
➢ User-friendly packaging
➢ Eco-friendly pH level
➢ Non-hazardous material
➢ Used solution gets diluted with water at a one-to-one ratio for disposal
To use the Stratasys recycling program go to www.Stratasys.com/recycle.For more information on Ecoworks support cleaning agent, contact your local Stratasys representative or call 1-888-480-3548.