HeroX Challenge Research

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Problem Defined

  • It is known that plastic waste is a global problem that continues to not receive much attention. We continue to produce non-biodegradable plastic today.
  • 300 million tons globally, 150 million tons as waste


  • Large 3D Printer that can print plastic lumber from trash plastic
    • Extruder Head Temp: 300C | Build Plate Temp: 135C+ for Polycarbonate Standards
    • Extruder Head Temp: 400C | Build Plate Temp: 135C+ | Build Chamber: 145C+ for PEAK Plastics Family Standards
    • High Temperature Build Chamber
      • Needed to protect electronics and stepper motors from damage due to high temperature
      • Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass for insulation
      • Heat shield plate moves with the nozzle. This must be twice the size of the chamber
  • Time to print a house?
    • 20lb's of plastic per day(24hr), using open source SuperVolcano Extruder head and SuperVolcano Heater Blocks.
      • Using a machine with multiple heads, 4-8 print heads. Looking to optimize to ~40lbs per head, per day
  • Low cost shredder/filament maker for waste plastic

Business Cases and Price Points

  • Cost to performance ratio? Currently looking at ~$6K, almost 10x to a comparable printer with similar specs but larger build size capabilities looking at price alone
    • To reference another comparable industrial printer Extruder: Up to 480C | Build Plate: 250C | Chamber: 250C : miniFactory Ultra Price point is ~$54K
    • Using a treadmill motor for ~$50 at 30HP to 50HP
    • Frame built form Rebar Truss, ~$240 for a 10ft Frame
    • Build Chamber: ~$5K
    • 7 Stepper Motors at ~$50 per motor
    • Stepper Motors:
    • Controller:
    • Metal Hotend:

Research and Potential Ideas

  • Engineering Effort
    • 3D Printer Size
    • Building Printer Hardware
    • Further research into other materials to use for printing (Geo-Polymers)
  • Revenue/Business Model
    • $100K Incentive
    • Precious Plastics Business Case Study
  • Collaborative Effort
  • City Engineering Code Reform and Certification
  • Marketing/Sponsor/Outreach Efforts
    • Getting others to show up
  • Sourcing Plastic Resources
    • Starting a Recycling Facility in a City/Town
    • Buy others waste for a price
    • Composition of the plastics


  • Plastic forms for construction, an example would be rammed earth structures
  • Engineering the plastic before final product?
  • https://nefhousebuilder.com/insulated-concrete-forms/ - Research into insulated concrete forms
  • Producing filament spools from the waste plastic?
  • Risk of fire or high heat melting the structure?
  • Using larger nozzles allows for higher tolerance

Action Items

  • Open Source High Temperature 3D Printer Industry Standards
  • Perform cost-benefit analysis?
  • Create designs for Build Chamber and protect electronics/stepper motors
  • "Rally the troops"
  • How do we lower the cost to truly 10x the next comparable printer?
  • Install OSE Workbench for CAD and dig in. OSE FreeCAD Workbenches
  • Research some aspects of materials science to determine which types of waste plastic can blend together. Some waste plastic will not be used for various reasons