For the past two years, Will Amos has led a student and faculty team at the University of California, Irvine in building an innovative recycling system that turns plastic waste into stock material for 3D printing projects. The system includes four components: a grinder that breaks plastic waste into small pieces, an extruder that melts the broken plastic into lament, a spooler that prepares the lament for use in the printer and of course the printer. The only byproduct of the cradle-to-cradle system, which tackles the issues of overconsumption and plastic pollution, is water vapor.
An environmental engineer by training, Amos is passionate about the role technology can play in solving environmental problems. But he believes that innovative research must be paired with education in order to achieve long-term change. That’s why his team has showcased the easily transportable recycling system on college and school campuses around Irvine, and at local TEDx events. At its core, his interactive and accessible project is one that seeks to educate.