Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 136–145 | Cite as

Physical Characterization and Pre-assessment of Recycled High-Density Polyethylene as 3D Printing Material

  • Siewhui ChongEmail author
  • Guan-Ting Pan
  • Mohammad Khalid
  • Thomas C.-K. Yang
  • Shuo-Ting Hung
  • Chao-Ming Huang
Original Paper


3D printing has received lots of attention due to its limitless potential and advantages in comparison to traditional manufacturing processes. This study focuses on the most popular type of home 3D printers, namely fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers, which use plastic filaments as the feedstock. The rather high material cost and large amount of plastic waste generated by FFF 3D printers have driven the need for plastic filaments produced from recycled plastic waste. This study evaluates, in terms of physical characterization, the feasibility of using recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE), one of the most commonly used plastics, as the feedstock for 3D printers, in comparison with the common acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic pellets. In-house extrusion using recycled HDPE pellets and flakes is possible. The diameter consistency and extrusion rate results, along with other physical characterization results, including differential scanning calorimetry, thermogravimetric analysis, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and water absorption, suggest that making filaments from recycled HDPE pellets is a viable option, as the obtained filament has favorable water rejection and comparable extrusion rate and thermal stability. Existing methods for overcoming the warping and adhesion problems in 3D printing with HDPE were also reviewed. In order to increase the market competitiveness of waste-derived filaments, optimization of the extrusion process, studies on the mechanical and aging properties, and development of a standard characterization methodology and database are crucial.


3D printing HDPE Plastic Recycling Filament Polymer 



This was a final-year research project carried out by undergraduate students Ee Xuen Chong, Jian Ming Chip, Lik Yi Chan, and Jay Yang Lim from the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Nottingham Malaysia in Term 2014/15. This study was funded by the RSC of the University of Nottingham Malaysia (Collaboration with public universities fund). We would like to thank Wespack Waste Management Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia, for providing free samples of recycled HDPE pellets, and the Filastruder Soliforum 3D Printing community for their active support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Nottingham Malaysia CampusJalan Broga, SemenyihMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringNational Taipei University of TechnologyTaipei CityTaiwan, ROC
  3. 3.Department of Research DevelopmentDA.AI Technology Co., Ltd.Taipei CityTaiwan, ROC
  4. 4.Department of Materials EngineeringKun Shan UniversityTainan CityTaiwan, ROC

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