DIY Robot Seamlessly Turns Plastic Bottles Into Filament

It might not be a cute domestic pet robot, but it could help save the world.
Chris Young

A new robot called PetBot automates the plastic recycling process by cutting PET bottles into tape before turning it into filament, a report by Hackaday explains.

The robot, built by JRT3D, carries out the two separate processes at the same time using the same stepper motor.

In a video (below) that reminds us of a Rube Golberg or Wallace and Gromit machine, you can see PetBot cutting the bottles at the same time as turning it into filament further along in the process.

To start off, the user cuts a bottle in half and pushes the open rim between two bearings where a cutter slices the plastic into tape.

The tape is moved by a driven spool to the second part of the machine, which drives the plastic through an extruder where it's heated up just enough so it can be pulled through without breaking. 

While the machine looks great in action, it does have its limitation. One example is that the machine doesn't fully automate the cutting process, meaning that someone has to be at hand to cut the bottles and place a new one when the previous bottle has run out.

Joining a long list of DIY recycling projects 

Still, while some might be disappointed that PetBot isn't, in fact, a dog-like pet robot, this is a pretty impressive project that could help in the much-needed race for new innovations in plastic recycling.

As 10 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year, according to the World Economic Forum, a machine similar to PetBot would undeniably make a worthwhile DIY project.

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JRT3D's PetBot joins a long list of other similar machines, such as DIY powerwalls made out of recycled laptop batteries and a homemade shower loop for reduced water waste.

JRT3D is selling the machine for $400 on the website of Precious Plastic an organization that enables people to start plastic recycling businesses with homemade inventions, and the inventor also says in his YouTube videos that a Kickstarter campaign is coming soon.