A collection 3d filaments provided by Filamentive
A conversation with Ravi Toor from the 3D filament company Filamentive
by Blue Fletcher/25th-October-2020
So, before we start do you want to give us an introduction to yourself and Filamentive?
So, my name is Ravi Toor, I am the founder and current Managing Director of Filamentive. Filamentive is a company that specialises in providing recycled and sustainable plastics for 3-D printing, basically the plastic ink for 3-D printers.
Amazing and for people who aren’t familiar with 3-D printing what exactly does it involve?
3-D printing is a broad term, its kind of is a capsule time for a group of different technologies. The main type of 3-D printing is FDM, fuse deposition modelling, or also known as fuse filament fabrication (FFF) which involves the creation of a physical object from a digital file.
So, in the same way fundamentally you would print something on paper, you can have a digital file, print it and it will create something in real life, 3D, a physical object. Its built-up layer by layer, using a material (most commonly plastic). So, it builds up layer by layer, until you have the desired object.
Obviously for someone who is so involved with it and has it day-to-day, this is probably normal to you but to me this is insane that this is going on and that you guys are managing to do this.
Looking to the future how significant do you think recyclable 3-D printings impact will be?
I think it will be profound, I think it will be a profound Blue. So, 3-D printing itself, it is more sustainable than traditional methods. So, if you look at subtractive manufacturing, like CNC milling and other types of woodworking, for example, your chiselling away at a material most commonly. So, there’s always waste right, but with 3-D printing is additive it only takes plastic that it needs and there is very little wastage, but the problem is it’s plastic right.
So as 3D printing grows, as it has done exponentially, we need more plastic to fuel 3-D printers, but it only adds to our plastic problem. But as you say looking to the future, plastic is a problem but 3-D printing with the right collaborations, with the right mindset of thinking circular we can re-distribute plastic for 3-D printing. Which is already growing, and I do think that it presents, it’s a lot of work doing, but I do think it presents opportunities to address our global plastic problem.
Ravi Toor founder of 3d Filamentive
Yeah absolutely, it makes complete sense as to why, like you said it doesn’t bring around waste like other measures do. So, it’s really interesting and quite crazy that you’ve furthered that and made it even more sustainable with the recyclable materials. It’s really amazing.
Yeah exactly, it’s already quite fundamental. But with my background being, I have a I have a degree with an environmental business, so at university I was always exposed to sustainability, reducing carbon footprint. Thankfully it was a business I was able to pursue and it is a full-time business. Yeah, we’re just trying to do a bit. There are other really good start-ups within the space just trying to reduce the environmental impact of 3-D printing.
Amazing. Would you say that the pandemic that we’ve recently, still slowly getting through, has it heightened the need for the 3-D printing products?
Yeah for sure. I mean look, the pandemic as we speak and still going on and obviously it’s an awful situation, that’s an understatement. 3-D printing has had a role to play though. So, as you may have seen, less so now but certainly at the height of lockdown, there was a very large scale movement to 3-D print face shields, PPE.
As we know in the media there was a shortage, for whatever reason, the powers that be, that is the situation. So, 3-D printing presented an opportunity, with the actual plastic headband for the face shields that can be 3-D printed. It can be done inexpensively, because it’s only a few grams of material so when you consider 4kg cost about £20, if you’re only using 100g it’s £2 cost right.
It was inexpensive and 3d printing kind of allowed localised manufacturing. It didn’t have to be centralised somewhere in the middle of the country or London, a huge hub.
Literally someone in a shed, or a person that’s working with a 3-D printer in his or her office, up to large businesses with 50 or 100 3-D printers were involved. I was aware of lots of crowd funders, lots of effort‘s, all community, bottom-up approaches that are galvanising. Anyone with a 3-D printer, whether it’s £200 or £2000 to get these face shields printed. Filamentive, we were small part of that we offered donations, discounts on our material to say, ‘well you’re doing this out of your time with your hard earned money’, it’s the least we can do. Thousands of shields must’ve been printed in our materials alone, and if you consider the whole country, we might be looking at six figures maybe 100,000, maybe more shields that were 3-D printed. I think it was, I won’t say a watershed moment because I think 3-D printing was certainly, industry people know 3-D printing. But when the media picked up on the 3-D printing of PPE, you know, young students doing in their bedrooms, for example. I think it has heighten the need for 3-D printing products, it maybe has catapulted 3-D printing into the mainstream, into the limelight. There is no positive of the pandemic, but I think 3-D printing has a role to play and has been further enhanced, for sure.
Exactly and obviously in such a terrible, terrible situation it’s so reassuring to hear people coming together. Whether they’re sat in their shed, like you said, or in their big manufacturing warehouses. It’s so nice to hear people getting involved and really putting all arms together.
Oh absolutely it’s really good to see.
Yeah and I know that you were shortlisted as a finalist for the 3-D Printing Material Company of the Year in 2018 and 2019, so congratulations for that.
Thank you, thank you.
But are there any projects in particular that are your personal favourites?
Yeah, it’s a tough one. In a good way because we see lots and lots of applications that you just think ‘wow, were just giving plastic to these people essentially’. They are the true innovators and creators. I think one project that stands out is the Sky Ocean Rescue Café, so obviously Sky, the media company, the TV company. At their HQ in London, I think it’s in Isleworth, West London, Sky are quite big with Sky Ocean Rescue. So they have a very big drive towards eradicating single use plastic, is quite a big effort so kudos to them. At Sky HQ they have a café for employees, using our materials there’s a really big coral reef that’s been printed on the café counter.
That’s just completely different from what I thought you were going to say.
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean there’s been lots of things, that’s one that stands out.
We’ve had things printed the Chelsea Flower Show, there was an example of a pearl garden, to exemplify the plastic problem. It’s not so much a project, but one thing that’s close on a personal level that I just think it’s out of this world is a work of Open Bionics. So they 3-D print bionic hands for amputees, mainly children actually, and they just use 3-D printing to reduce the cost of bionic limbs. Which can only make them a difference to the people that need it. I think we talk about 3-D printing: it sustainable, it’s low cost, its innovative, but I think literally when it’s changing peoples lives, I don’t think you can get in much more impactful.
Above images; Business Green Tech Awards. Cardboard reels of filament as standard. Carbon Fibre Filament 100 % recyclable
That’s one of my favourite applications of 3-D printing because it’s less of a project, because it’s ongoing. Open Bionics are really cool company, based in Bristol, and they just keep changing lives and they’re using 3-D printing to do it. One of my personal favourites for sure, but there are lots.
That’s definitely impressive, I bet when you started this out you didn’t think you’d be saying that a couple years on.
No not at all, because the bulk of the market, Blue to be honest is men and women, young girls and boys in their houses or sheds. They’re just playing with 3-D printers for fun, they’re just doing little objects, just as a hobby. But the business level projects that we see really, really cool stuff, to be a part of it it’s really nice feeling to see the end result.
Great and so what importance does a circular economy hold for you at Filamentive?
The circular economy is key to everything that we do. The business was established on the principle of sustainability, trying to reduce the environmental impact of 3-D printing. In the first instance, we use recycled plastics wherever possible. Admittedly not every product that we sell not every material is 100% recyclable, but that is the aspiration that is the goal to where we started out.
Something to work towards
Exactly. It’s all small steps and it makes a difference because my opinion on sustainability is about improvement not perfection. 3-D printing uses plastics, so someone that’s coming from a deep ecologist perspective would even say ‘you wouldn’t even use plastic, right?’ They have a point, but I think when plastic is what the technology needs, we need to think of ways to use more sustainable plastics. Even to the point of the spool that holds the filament, we were one of the first to just make it cardboard.
Which seems very simple and it is on the resource point of view, but it just makes means it’s not using plastic, it ends up in someone’s workshop. These materials normally end up in landfill, we want to reduce our plastic going to landfill, we want to use recycled plastics and just reduce the dependence on extracting raw materials that we don’t need to. So the circular economy is key to everything we do and we hope eventually that, easier said than done, to be able to take waste 3-D prints and CCG models, because a lot of them are transient they’re not needed permanently. Can we turn that back into filament and make it a fully circular business model, in line with a circular economy and that is a very big aim for us.
It’s a very interesting way to think about actually because you think ‘these materials are recyclable, they’ve already been recycled, they’ve already been used – but go ahead further than that. Can we use them again and again and again? and so on’. It’s really interesting.
Exactly yeah. It’s always going to be the aim for us and will find ways in doing that or at least trying to.
Brilliant well thank you so much for being on the podcast, where will our listeners be able to find you online?
So, you can find us at filamentive.com, that’s our website. But we’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the username is just Filamentive. Yeah we are reachable, so we can be found via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you Blue, it’s been a pleasure.