Frequently Asked Questions



We work collaboratively with waste pickers in India while using a market driven solution to generate value at the grassroots. We are structured as a financially sustainable organization, committed to working collaboratively with wastepicker co-operatives while simultaneously promoting environmentally friendly, recycled filament globally.
Protoprint partners with waste picker co-operatives in India to set up 'Filament Production Labs' at local dump sites. At these labs, we set up our machines and train the pickers to process the plastic waste into high quality 3D printer filament. The co-operative then sells the filament to our distribution partners, generating a sustainable source of income and creating a entrepreneurial, inclusive environment that is conducive to upward mobility.
The Protoprint process begins with wastepickers collecting plastic waste from housing societies and garbage dumps. They then sort the waste, separating out the HDPE plastic (like shampoo bottles). The sorted plastic is then brought to the 'Filament Production Facility' at the garbage dump where it is cleaned and dried. It are then passed through our 'FlakerBot', where the plastic is shredded into 4mm flakes. The 'flakes' are then passed through a pre-heating process to remove excess moisture following which they are passed through our 'ReFilBot' - a single screw extruder optimized to extrude HDPE filament. The filament is water cooled and spooled onto recycled spools. It is then packaged and is ready to be 3D printed.
Protoprint was the first organization (that we know of) to work collaboratively with waste-picker co-operatives and produce 3D printer filament from waste plastic. Our ethical, fair trade model differentiates itself from other filament offerings on the market by ensuring that your purchase makes a real difference to the base of the pyramid. We believe in providing our customers with a price competitve, high quality filament product while also providing them the opportunity to create a social impact every time they switch on their printer!
We work with a plastic called HDPE (High Density Polyethylene). We chose to work with HDPE after conducting a thorough survey of the plastics collected by urban waste-pickers and factoring in logistical and material constraints. Unfortunately, HDPE has significant warping issues when 3D printed that impacts print quality. We are currently working with the National Chemical Labs to develop an additive to prevent this warpage. Currently, we only work with a select group of partners to test our filament and will start open commercial distribution once we conclude our research and development.
Yes! We are constantly improving the process but are happy to share our experiences with anyone interested in social entrepreneurship. Contact us at contact@protoprint.in.