Making 3D printer parts from e-waste

Award winner Professor Veena Sahajwalla of SMaRT UNSW

Award winner Professor Veena Sahajwalla of SMaRT UNSW

The Sustainable Materials Research & Technology division at the University of New South Wales (SMaRT UNSW), led by Planet Ark ambassador Professor Veena Sahajwalla, focuses on research and development of green materials, made from rubbish.

Founded in 2008 by ARC Laureate Fellow Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, the Centre for SMaRT works with industry, SMEs, global research partners, NGOs, local, state and federal government, policy makers and the community on the development of innovative environmental solutions for the world’s biggest waste challenges.

The green materials produced by SMaRT UNSW are diverse:

  • 3D printer parts are produced by SMaRT UNSW from unwanted plastics using a combination of automated drones and robotic parts to remove the plastics from discarded electronics, like mobile phones, which otherwise would end up in landfill.

  • Their 'SMaRT' stone is made from rejected glass, ground and mixed into resin (a proprietary polymer invented by SMaRT UNSW) and processed to create an inexpensive artificial stone similar to Caesarstone.

  • SMaRT UNSW is creating products like green steel, made from waste tyres, a typically complex and challenging waste product.

  • They are turning waste tyres into silicon carbide nanoparticles, activated carbon, and carbon black (a colouring pigment and electric conductive agent).

  • They’re also producing sustainable building materials, including a particleboard made from agricultural and forestry by-products such as ground macadamia shells, pinecones and eucalyptus.

All products have a multitude of benefits – they are cheaper, more sustainable, non-toxic, have less demand for energy, and reduce the depletion of virgin resources. In addition, they’re creating more local industry and employment opportunities.

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