Ecoprinting: investigating the use of 100% recycled acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) for additive manufacturing

Many commonly found polymers have the potential to be recycled, such as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a prevalent 3D printing material. In this study we examine the potential of using 100% recycled ABS to form filaments for use in Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) 3D printing. We then characterise the resulting changes in the printing quality and mechanical properties, over a single recycling cycle. We found that ABS can undergo recycling and reforming into consistent printer filaments without the addition of virgin material. However, notable changes in polymer characteristics were observed, reflected by degradation in mechanical properties during tensile tests and a decrease in the polymer melt flow, which required reduced raster speed to achieve repeatable prints. Despite these limitations, we demonstrate that recycling and reprinting is possible with acceptable loss of material integrity, and could provide unique opportunities for sustainable use of waste ABS using 3D printing technology.