Protoprint is a social enterprise that provides waste pickers in India with low-cost technology to produce 3D printer filament from the waste plastic they collect.
It was founded by environmental engineer Sidhant Pai and his parents in 2012 to address poor employment conditions and increasing pollution levels. Pai secured a partnership with SWaCH to transform high-density polyethylene (HDPE)-based products such as plastic bottles into filament for 3D printers.
SWaCH, short for Solid Waste Collection and Handling, is a cooperative formed by waste pickers and workers at a waste disposal site in Pune, India. Workers at SWaCH provide Protoprint with the necessary waste material which Pai and his team use to create filaments. SWaCH works with over 2700 waste-pickers.
This is an inspiring example of closing local material loops using 3D printing, and demonstrates the potential of a circular economy to generate sustainable livelihoods.
This signal was originally written on 26 Jan 2017.