Though people like to say 3D printing is an easy way to make something yourself, the materials required aren’t exactly cheap. A decent 3D printer will already set you back a couple of hundred dollars, not to mention the filament needed to print whatever it is you want to make.

While he hasn’t quite found a way to make a cheaper 3D printer (at least not yet), YouTuber The Q takes solace in that he was at least able to make the filaments more affordable. How? By reusing old plastic bottles, that’s how!

YouTube video

Breaking down old plastic bottles into filaments requires two gadgets: a plastic stripper and a plastic melter.

The Plastic Stripper

recycled plastic filament

This simple tool is made from two bolts stacked with washers and a cutter blade wedged between them. After cutting out the bottom of the bottles, The Q ran them around the blade to cut the plastic into a roll.

As you may have already surmised, this roll is what he’ll be using as filament for his 3D printer.

The Plastic Melter

recycled plastic filament

Before the roll can be fed into the printer, the plastic has to be melted into a workable string.

The plastic melter made by The Q is a little more complex than the stripper. It includes a small funnel which heats the incoming plastic roll and turns it into a cylindrical sting. As the string comes out, a fan cools the filament and makes its way across the machine. Finally, the filament is rolled up into a container with a motor attached.

recycled plastic filament

The filament works just like any store-bought variant. Just hook it up to your 3D printer, boot up a printable file, and sit back as technology does the work for you. The Q thought it was fitting to print a couple of small soda bottles and cups to pay homage to the plastic’s previous incarnation.

There are other ways of recycling plastic bottles, but this is one of the more modern solutions. And if you happen to be running out of filament for your 3D printer, you’ll be doing Mother Earth a service by reusing your bottles and turning them into something better!


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.