Open-source hardware expert champions the future of recyclables and 3D printing

Recent advances in distributed recycling and additive manufacturing (DRAM) technologies allow communities, companies and even individuals to recycle their own plastic at a profit, says Western University’s Joshua M. Pearce.


Joshua Pearce

An expert in open-source hardware, 3D printing and solar power technology, Pearce is Western’s John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation.

His latest article on distributed recycling, “DRAM IT!,” is the feature story in the October issue of The Chemical Engineer – the leading magazine for chemical, biochemical and process engineers.

The article is available open access here:

Pearce, a professor at Western’s Ivey Business School and the department of electrical and computer engineering, is available for media interviews to explain how open-source hardware makes it easy to use recyclables as feedstock for customized 3D-printed products.

“Only 9 per cent of plastic produced has been recycled. With China refusing to take the world’s plastic trash, the centralized recycling model is under even more strain,” says Pearce.

“You can now turn your old plastic trash into 3D printing filament for less than 10 cents per kilogram, while replacing filament that costs more than $20 per kilogram. You can use a kilogram of filament to produce hundreds of dollars of products,” says Pearce. “There are millions of free designs of everything from toys to scientific hardware.”

Commentary reflects the perspective and scholarly interest of Western faculty members and is not an articulation of official university policy on issues being addressed.

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