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Government investment in 3D printing presents recycled plastic opportunity

UK businesses will benefit from a £14.7m funding injection to develop 3D printing projects, business secretary Vince Cable has announced.

The Technology Strategy Board and Research Councils will invest £8.4m into 3D printing projects, which will leverage in an additional £6.3m of private investment, according to Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

The department stated that the aim is to help businesses develop 3D printing technology across industries such as healthcare and energy.

3D printing can be used to print anything from furniture (see below video) to small-scale models, and can use recycled plastics.

Richard Hague, professor of innovative manufacturing at Nottingham University, and director of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council centre for additive manufacturing, told MRW: “There is not only one type of 3D printing, but there is absolutely a place for recycled materials.

“Recycled material is most likely to be used in Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM).” FDM is an 3D printing method for building concept models and functional prototypes.

The announcement comes as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. BIS stated: “Government has committed to support ground-breaking technologies that are often too risky or resource intensive for individual companies to nurture on their own.”

Projects that are awarded funding will span between one and three years.

Speaking at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry this week, Vince Cable said: “Investing in tomorrow’s technology will bring jobs and economic growth throughout the UK. That’s why last month the Government announced the biggest ever investment in the work of the Technology Strategy Board. This joint investment with the Research Councils highlights the commitment from across the sector to boost manufacturing in the UK.”

  • As well as being able to use recycled plastic, environmental benefits of 3D printing include removing the need for bulk transport, the ability to focus on sustainably sourced materials and designing out waste.

Furniture made from recycled plastic using 3D printing

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