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Cutting down 3M BIC’s 3D printed plastic waste

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3D printing is a core part of our offering at the 3M BIC for businesses looking to use this technology for product development. However, we’re often left with wasted plastic filament and reels that can’t be recycled. Luke Phillips, our 3D Design Technician has recently been testing out some sustainable filament manufactured by a local company to find a solution to cut down on the 3M BIC’s plastic waste.  

We’ve seen an increase in the number of businesses using our 3D printing services, as more realise the benefits the technology provides to developing or enhancing new products. The only downfall is the amount of plastic that is wasted. Through our self-service 3D printing hub, The Byte, we can go through the equivalent of one reel a week, four on a busy week, depending on the size and consistency of each print.

We usually purchase our plastic filament from a company who produce the 3D printers that we use in The Byte. However, the reels are made out of plastic and once we’ve used up the filament we are left with the reels that can’t be recycled and often find their way into landfill. We currently have 40 reels leftover that we don’t know what to do with.

Recently we set ourselves a task to find a more sustainable solution and have been working with local filament producer, Filamentive. Based in Bradford and founded by Ravi Toor during his time at the University of Leeds (OWTTE), Filamentive produce sustainable filament and reels.

Since June, we’ve been testing out its innovative filament and have been positively surprised by the results.

Filamentive produces high quality, recycled filament, using waste plastic material generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities. To promote circular economy, the reels holding the material are made from cardboard and therefore 100% recyclable. Currently it is the only UK company to produce sustainable filament, with its only direct competitor in The Netherlands.

We’re always keen to support local business and Filamentive is certainly making its mark in the industry with its sustainable view to 3D printing. It was named One of the Most Impactful Start-ups by Web Summit in 2017 and was a finalist for 3D Printing Material Company of the Year in 2019.

Those looking to use our 3D printing services should definitely consider investing in a more sustainable option, in particular students at the Duke of York Young Entrepreneurs Centre (DOYYEC). The current filament usually costs about £40 per reel and the sustainable option from Filamentive costs about £15 per reel, so it’s definitely a more cost-effective option. Filamentive materials can be purchased via or its UK sales partner, 3DGBIRE, a UK distributor of 3D printers and accessories.

“3D printing is a growing industry and as more people print, plastic waste increases. Our business model is based around finding a more sustainable way of maximising this technology without it hindering R&D and product development processes. High quality, environmentally-friendly products is key to this industry and we have plans for further R&D as the need for 3D printing grows.”

Ravi Toor, founder of Filamentive

For more information on Filamentive and its products, go to or to find out more about our 3D printing services at The Byte, contact Luke Phillips on

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