I just had a discussion with support about this and raised some requests; I wanted to post here, too. It would be great if Formlabs accepted tanks and cartridges for recycling.
Currently, users can only almost get there, with some effort:
- Discarded tanks can be completely cleaned with alcohol, or left in the sun to cure after scraping.
- Discarded cartridges can also be completely cleaned with alcohol, or cut open and left in the sun to cure.
(The above of course really ought to be done anyways before disposal into the trash, to eliminate uncured resins.)
In the case of alcohol cleaning, of course this produces hazardous waste, however the same solvent can at least be reused many times to clean tanks and cartridges before having to be disposed of.
However, the ability to recycle on my end stops here. Neither the tanks nor the cartridges have recycling stamps on them, and therefore will not be accepted by my local (NYC, USA) recycling services. According to support, the stamps are intentionally left off specifically to prevent recycling because the uncured resin that is normally left over (if you don’t clean them) is, of course, problematic.
So there’s not really any way to recycle any of this stuff. There are no viable options on our end. Even if users prep the materials, lack of stamping renders them non-recyclable.
I really think it would be great for Formlabs to accept consumables for recycling. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Formlabs could process and reuse the materials themselves (cartridges, tank frames and electronics), so it seems like the materials would have the most value in their hands, compared to general municipal recycling.
But, regardless of how they’re recycled, this would be great. It’d be in line with some other industries as well; for example stores that sell batteries are required to accept them for recycling in many places, pharmacies often offer responsible drug disposal services, etc.
Plus, at least before the pandemic became the main headline, environmental awareness was starting to become more mainstream than ever before (granted it was thrown out the window when half the world starting taking baths in IPA and going through latex gloves like water), and so I think it would be a great PR move for the company, especially after the pandemic ends and Twitter starts freaking out about the more traditional issues again.
Anyways, please consider this. Here is a collection of related forum posts, i.e. there is definitely interest in this from users:
- Green Recycling/Top up in UK/EU & or 3rd Party Resin/Tray Services/Suppliers?
- Resin Tank Recycling Program
- Recycling printer consumables
- Recycling Cartridges and more - Second life, etc
- Reusing / Recycling Formlabs Form 2 Resin Cartridges?
- Resin Cartrdige Disposal/Recycle
- Suggested disposal of resin tanks and cartridges?
And possibly more.
As an aside, another part of the request I made with support was the possibility of allowing users to order replacement film assemblies for tanks, which would let us reuse the frame and electronics directly on our end. Not sure how feasible it is, but it’s another thing along these lines. It’s relatively rare for a tank failure to not be in the film adhesive, and that’s also really the only consumable part of the tank. It’s a bit uncomfortable having to toss a bunch of perfectly reusable components into a landfill every time I throw a tank away.