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Gigalab initiates plastic waste transformation in Puerto Rico

In a joint effort to transform plastic waste into valuable commodities, re:3D recently announced the delivery of equipment for the first Gigalab to Engine-4’s labs in Bayamón.

Supported by funding from the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust, the retrofitted shipping container manufacturing lab is equipped with hardware that converts plastic waste into functional goods using a Gigabot X2 3D printer.

The Gigalab also serves as a mobile workspace, currently connected to the Engine-4 Foundation, fostering community-driven innovation.

“The Engine-4 Foundation and its innovation lab, in collaboration with the company re:3D, envision the use of Gigalab as a platform to foster community-driven innovation,” said Engine-4 founder Luis Torres. “By utilizing 3D printing technology with recycled materials, they envision exploring potential projects centered around agrotechnology as a part of future research and development endeavors.”

The collaboration, he explained, also aims to promote sustainable practices in the face of climate change. 

“Through the amalgamation of community involvement, cutting-edge technology and an emphasis on sustainability, they aspire to create a positive impact on the environment, establishing a precedent for future eco-conscious technological endeavors,” Torres added.

Final construction is underway to begin a formal demonstration through June 2024, during which re:3D designer Mike Pujols-Vásquez will test waste on the island for printability using designs made in collaboration with Puerto Rican communities. 

“re:3D’s Gigalab is a significant step towards innovative community solutions by repurposing plastic waste through 3D printing technology, crucial in Puerto Rico, where waste management is a challenge,” Pujols-Vásquez said. “This initiative fosters sustainability and innovation, addressing local issues and setting a model for other regions with similar challenges.” 

He said Gigalab allows him to turn “creative visions into tangible solutions, positively impacting the community.” 

The collaborative environment at The Engine 4 Foundation “amplifies this mission,” he added, “aiding the development of community-centric, technologically advanced and environmentally responsible solutions. This setup is a gateway for exploring projects aimed at enhancing local sustainability.”

The Gigalab is climate-controlled and insulated, with a design focused on operational safety and efficiency. Some of the final preparations include coating the Gigalab with special heat-reflective paint, and optimizing the workspace. 

In anticipation of the formal launch, Pujols-Vásquez has been designing and 3D printing goods using recycled PET pellets, as re:3D collaborates with local manufacturers exploring sustainable waste reuse options.Suggestions can be emailed here.

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