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Turning Used Cups Into 3D Prints

· 4 min read
Image of Single Use Cups and 3D Printed Benchies Made From Them

We recently stumbled across a new company in 3D printing right near us called Closed Loop Plastics. After learning more about their 100% recycled plastic filament we were ecstatic to give it a try and share our experience.

Closed Loop Plastics is taking common single-use plastic waste, such as plastic party cups, and giving them a second life as beautiful filament for your designs. If you’re eco-conscious this can be a great way to feel good about your 3D printing hobby and turn anything you print into a talking piece. With each spool of CLP filament purchased, you’re supporting their goal of diverting plastic waste from landfills and giving it a second life through your creations. You really can’t help but be amazed by the engineering feat of this challenge. Here’s some info on their process of chopping, washing, and converting the plastic waste into recycled 3D filament.

They were kind enough to send us a free spool and our first reaction on opening it was “How did this come from cups!?” It looks beautiful and we would have never known it was recycled material if it wasn’t for the label.

Image of Closed Loop Plastics Filament

For our tests prints we used a Prusa i3 MK3S. We were anticipating that nozzle clogs might be more of an issue so we made sure to try out a variety of nozzle diameters. We’re happy to report that after all of our tests prints, we didn’t experience a single nozzle clog! Clearly CLP is doing something right when it comes to the washing and cleaning process for their filaments.

The first challenge that we faced was with bed adhesion and warping, but this was quickly resolved with some generous glue stick. The spool emphasizes “heated enclosure recommended” but to be honest it didn’t seem necessary for us if you just use a bit of extra adhesive on your bed. Overall it behaved almost exactly like normal filament. We really loved the Nebula Black color. Upon closer inspection, we did realize there was some minor warping on the bow of some of the boats and some minor delamination between some layers, but we anticipate this would be less of an issue with a heated chamber and the effects were extremely minor. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think.

Image of 3D Prints Made From Sinlge Use Plastic Cups

So overall, what was our experience? It’s maybe slightly harder to work with than a PLA, but at the same time so are many materials that aren’t recycled. In terms of quality we were very pleasantly surprised. It seems just like a normal filament and we found no signs of it being recycled. The colors looked extremely consistent, visually appealing, and had no noticeable odor during extrusion. Finally the ecological benefits are hard to argue. The fact that you get to explain that your baby yoda -- we know that’s what you’re printing, don’t lie -- was made from recycled cups is just super cool. Gifts for friends are far more interesting with a backstory!

If you’re interested in giving 100% post-consumer plastic filament a try, they’ve given us the following MatterHackers discount code to share with our users: SCJ7L1. This will give you 20% off in the MatterHackers Store. If you print something cool with this kind of filament, please share a photo with us at along with your experience. We’d love to hear from you!