MA Interaction Design show: Eric Schneider- “Sustainable practices and 3D printing”

Today we feature another project from the MA Interaction Design show: “Sustainable Practices and 3D Printing”, by Eric Schneider, who proposes turning plastic waste into filament for 3D printers:


My project is about supporting sustainability in a homeless community in Austin, Texas, and re-establishing the realities around 3D printing- seeing it not as replication, but as creating connections and allowing scavenging and recycling. The community I engage with is very much into sustainability, they mow the lawn with rabbits, which fertilise the lawn with their droppings, and when they are done with the rabbits, they kill them and eat them. They have a garden where they grow luffa plants which they open up, dry and use as a sponge to bathe. So I took this idea of sustainability within the community, and then I created a process where plastic waste has been ground down, melted and extruded, using workout machines to grind down the plastics. It creates a full circle sustainable system where plastic is consumed and then re-used within the community. I envisioned two products that they could potentially make in this way: one was a water collection system, where the connections between the pipes are 3D printed, so pipes that wouldn’t normally fit, do fit now. The other one was the base of a shoe.

Do you plan to use these ideas in practice, turn them into products?

Yes, I got approached by a tech incubator. I think this system is a smart move towards full circle recycling, and the process itself uses way less energy than the actual energy it takes to recycle plastic at a major recycling plant, so it’s safer for the environment and I think it’s the right path to go with 3D printing. Right now, 3D printing is all about toys, not about doing anything practical. But we can spread the word that it’s all about connections, and that you can recycle all your stuff to make more stuff. The printer itself used in the printer industry has 3-4 years to go until this is a viable option, but until then, this idea is establishing of back-end to the 3d printing firm.



What are you going to do now that you’ve graduated?

I will return to the United States. I’m a creative technologist of hardware, in Austin, Texas, I build interactive experiences, prototypes, hardware applications hacked together from various pieces of new technology. It’s a great job.

How did you end up studying at Goldsmiths?

I thought it would be a great idea to work in the Interaction Research Studio with Bill Gaver. They create some really incredible work, world-famous, and I wanted to learn from the best.