The news: A new consumer-oriented 3-D printer can make simple everyday things like cell phone cases and desktop decor out something as ubiquitous as old Coca-Cola bottles.
The new Ekocycle Cube 3D Printer from Cubify, which uses filament cartridges produced from three recycled 20 oz. PET plastic bottles, will cost around $1,200 and come out later this year on Cubify. The material supposedly has the durability of standard 3-D printer filament. And it's made by will.i.am, 3D Systems' chief creative officer, so that's fun too.
According to 3D Systems, the new device will ship with blueprints for 25 fashion, music and tech accessories and is capable of printing objects up to six cubic inches in high-definition 70-micron resolution. Cartridges will only come in red, white, black and natural to start, but will probably expand to include more options in the future.
Lots of ideas. Will.i.am has big plans with this model. He claims the objective is to "partner with the most influential brands around the world and use technology, art, style and inspiration to change an entire culture. We will make it cool to recycle, and we will make it cool to make products using recycled materials. This is the beginning of a more sustainable 3D-printed lifestyle. Waste is only waste if we waste it." That seems a little ambitious for what's essentially an expensive gadget capable of reproducing small objects. But hey, experiments with 3-D printing whole houses have already started, so the technology is proving its practical potential. And the new Ekocycle does look capable of generating some awesome objects.
For now, you'll have to buy the cartridges directly from Cubify, which currently cost between $25 and $45 per kilogram — an unfortunate markup from the $2-per-kilogram cost of the actual materials. And since these are designer, celebrity-endorsed cartridges, they won't be exceptionally cheap, though recycled materials claim to be less pricey. It might be some time until you can just insert an old Coke bottle and pull out a few ping pong balls. But hey, we're getting closer.