Polyformer - Ideal Filament Recycler

The ideal machine for recycling plastic bottles into 3D printer filament.
Team Members: Reiten Cheng (Project Founder), Swaleh Owais

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We demonstrate a functional machine that can produce 3D printer filament from discarded water bottles. The machine is designed for community centers where it will serve two key purposes: recycling plastic waste and producing 3D printer filament at extremely low costs.

Initial versions of the machine will be deployed at various community makerspaces and fablabs in Kigali, Rwanda; where it is very costly to import filament. Our objective is to lower the cost of 3D printing and make the technology more accessible in low-resource settings (developing countries, remote communities, etc).

We want as many people to replicate and improve upon this project as possible. Therefore, all CAD, firmware, and other resources are opensource. Additionally, special consideration was given to ensure all parts and tools used in the build process are easily sourced.

Team Members: Reiten Cheng (@reiten966, founder and team lead), Swaleh Owais (@callmeswal)


[Figure 1: Polyformer, view additional renders at]

[Figure 2: Project Video and Explanation,]

[Figure 3: Polyformer-Lite Demo,]

Project Kit

You can easily buy all of the required parts to build the machine at this link:


3D printing can fill in critical and underserved gaps of a country’s supply chain. One of our team member’s currently works at a community 3D printing center in Kigali, Rwanda. At this center, Rwandese students, entrepreneurs, and (most importantly) hackers use 3D printers to quickly and easily create items. The center’s 3D printers are able to produce a wide variety of products which are impractical to manufacture domestically and expensive to import from abroad. In low-resource settings, like Rwanda, 3D printing can drastically broaden and increase manufacturing capacity.

[Figure 3: E-Commerce Center (ECC) Rwanda, a makerspace and incubator in Kigali, Rwanda]

[Figure 4: 3D printers at ECC Rwanda]

Unfortunately, our 3D printer farm in Kigali faces a critical issue: filament. It is extremely expensive to purchase 3D printer filament in Rwanda. A standard roll of 1kg PLA filament retails for over $55 USD in local markets. For context, the same roll of filament can be purchased in the United States for just $20 USD. This price differential is exasperated by the lower purchasing parity of the average Rwandan. The high cost of filament, limits the accessibility of our 3D printing center and constrains the potential of 3D printing in the country.

[Figure 5: Retail price of filament at major vendor in Kigali]

Therefore, we are developing a low cost, easy to build, and easier to operate machine that manufactures 3D printer filament from discarded plastic water bottles. This machine will enable anyone to produce 3D printer filament at an extremely low cost, while also reducing their plastic footprint. Our goal is to deploy versions of the machine at our partner makerspaces in Rwanda. Moreover, since the project is 100% opensource, anyone around the world can easily buiild one of these filament recycling machines. For more information, check out the discord:

Prior Art

Since the beginning of desktop 3D printing, hackers have tried to find ways to make filament in house; especially from recycled plastics. From our understanding, the first such documented attempt of such a project was the FilaMaker by Marek Pantel; developed in 2013. A FilaMaker machine shreds waste plastics, such as failed 3D print jobs and water bottles, into small pieces.

[Figure 6: Plastic shredder for FilaMaker]

The grounded material can then be fed into a traditional extruder and purged into filament. Unfortunately, 3D printer filament made from shredded plastics tends to suffer from inconsistency issues. In our experience, shredded plastics tend to clog and jam extruders.

Over the past year, a number of 3D printer tinkerers have demonstrated a new and more effectia ve method of producing filament: PullStrusion. In this method, a plastic bottle is cut into a thin long strip. This strip is then “pulled” through a 3D printer nozzle that is modified to have a 1.75mm hole. As the strip runs through the nozzle, it is curled from a flat to cylindrical shape.

We appreciate and strongly commend all hackers who have demoed and provided useful documentation for this process: JRT3D, Mr3DPrint, f2knpw, and Recreator3D. In particular, we would like to thank Josh N. Bee from Recreator3D who personally chatted with us individually and has created thorough documentation on recycling bottles into filament. We hope that this project pushes at-home filament extruders even further..


We believe that by adding the following three innovations...

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x-zip-compressed - 48.54 MB - 10/23/2022 at 05:29


Latest copy of Polyformer CAD Repo. Files are also available on github: STEP file:

x-zip-compressed - 139.64 kB - 10/23/2022 at 05:11



Latest copy of Polyformer CAD Repo. Files are also available on github: STEP file:

step - 135.95 kB - 10/23/2022 at 05:12



Files for print. Latest print files on GitHub:

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 255.17 kB - 10/23/2022 at 05:24


  • 2 × FEP Wire 24awg
  • 2 × FEP Wire 20awg
  • 1 × FEP Wire 18awg (red, green, white)
  • 2 × FEP Wire 18awg black
  • 5 × Female Spade Connectors

View all 31 components

  • What is P.E.T.

    Swaleh Owais01/04/2023 at 20:59 0 comments

    Made a short vid on the advantages of PET.

  • 2022/12/24 - Got Bottle Cutter to Work Again

    Swaleh Owais12/24/2022 at 21:21 0 comments

    Currently, I am trying to cut 0.2mm bottles with the standard bottle cutter. Unfortunately, it keeps on on jamming. Upon closer inspection, it seems that the bearing seats have been deformed. I think the bearings were loose so instead of the outer ring spinning they were both moving. I assume over time the seats were grinded down. After reprinting the part, the cutter works again. I am ashamed to admit it took 2 days for me to resolve this.

    [Figure 1: Grounded down bearing seat]

  • 2022/12/22 - Pick your UPS wisely

    Swaleh Owais12/23/2022 at 00:44 0 comments

    I had a really cool 3 hour recycled print that I wanted to share today. Unfortunately, the power cut mid-print. I'm not a dummy, I plugged my 3D printer into a UPS for this specific purpose. But I guess the UPS was second or messed up in some way since it only kept the printer on for ~15 sec. 

    I managed to replace the unit in town and I am running the cool print job again as we speak. Hopefully, I can share it tomorrow.

    Got a bit frustrated today cutting bottles as they were too big for the standard bottle cutter.  I printed out a simple extension tool to fit the larger bottles.

  • Stupid Video

    Swaleh Owais12/23/2022 at 00:37 0 comments

    It's stupid...I know...but it summarizes the project :)

  • 1.5 Kg of PLA later

    Swaleh Owais12/23/2022 at 00:29 0 comments

    I have printed all of the parts to make the first Polyformer in Rwanda. Big thank-you to Tresor and T Squared robotics for letting my hijack their lab to build these machines: .

    Originally, I was supposed to print the Polyformer pieces in ABS. I actually brought four spools of ABS all the way from California for this explicit purpose. Unfortunately, Kigali is extremely humid and the ABS is not printing well in this environment. The prints won't stick to the bed while printing or at the very least it warps. So I ended up buying PLA filament locally here to print out the pieces. That 53,000 RWF per roll 😢 (for now mwahahahaha)

    [Figure 1: Box of Polyformer Parts]

  • Next Deployment: Makerspace Kigali

    Swaleh Owais12/23/2022 at 00:07 0 comments

    Our next task is to deploy a Polyformer at Makerspace Kigali. I met the space manager Tinah today and learned more about this amazing community center.

    I told Tinah that I would have the machine ready for the makerspace by end of December so hopefully Polyformer will be a great Christmas present. Maybe I can print it in Christmas colours? Red and White instead of White and Red....

    Tinah informed me that the the makerspace currently charges members 750 RWF per gram to use the 3D printers. That is about 075 USD per gram....which is really expensive. A small 20gram print would could almost $15 USD. 

    I have all of the parts to build a Polyformer, except the 3D printed pieces. Ironically, I need to use filament to make a filament making machine. In true rep-rap fashion, I hope to eventually make a Polyformer from recycled materials. Or atleast a Polyformer-Lite.

  • ECC Rwanda Deployment

    Swaleh Owais12/23/2022 at 00:03 0 comments

    Just finished deploying our first Polyformer at my favourite 3D printing center in Kigali: ECC Rwanda.

    I made a short playlist where I demonstrate using the machine at the center. In the video series, you can also meet our local partner Tresor Cyiza who will be maintaining and managing the machines long term.

    I'm estatic that we get to collaborate with Tresor on this project as he is an expert on 3D printing and specifically fabricating recycled printer filament. Tresor himself has already designed and built his own pullstrusion machine in Rwanda. As an avid maker, he was frustrated by the insanely high cost of 3D printer filament in Rwanda. Fortunately he is an avid maker, so he made his own custom machine to recycle bottles into filament. He has named his design Polywinder and he provides more details on the project in the Polyformer discord server. Currently, Tresor is experimenting with a Wellzoom extruder to fabricate filament from PLA pellets. If he is successful, he will be able to manufacture filament in Rwanda for $7 a kilo. I really wanted to share Tresor's story as I think it illustrates how local makers are already trying to solve this problem themselves. That proves there is a need for this project (or something like it atleast).

    Anyways, here is our workshop session at the makerspace:

  • Back to Rwanda

    Swaleh Owais12/22/2022 at 23:55 0 comments

    Just wrapped up the Prototypes for Humanity conference. Definitely one of the best experiences of my life. I would strongly encourage any hackers reading this log to apply for the event next year.

    The next step is to deploy some Polyformers at our partner makerspaces in Rwanda. Big shoutout to Hackaday as we are funding this trip with the Hackaday prize money. I have one fully assembled Polyformer and kits to build three more. I have identified two makerspaces so far (ECC Rwanda and Makerspace Kigali)  to deploy the machines at. I am still investigating centers to send the remaining two machines, so if you have any ideas let me know!

  • Prototypes for Humanity 2022

    Swaleh Owais12/22/2022 at 23:43 0 comments

    [Figure 1: Prototypes for Humanity Conference Dubai 2022]
    [Figure 2: Exhibitors interacting with Polyformer]

    [Figure 3: Polyformer Booth Prototypes]

    Last month (November 14th - 17th), I presented the project at the Protototypes for Humanity Conference in Dubai. The event was a brilliant experience except for one major problem...REITEN COULDN'T COME. We tried everything...immigration officers...lawyers....more immigration officers....but we were unable to get Reiten the required paperwork.

    As a stopgap, I emsure that Reiten's presence was at the event via many embarrassing photos of him. Unfortunately, his presence was not strong enough for us to win the 25k exhibitor prize. If he did come, we totally would have won though!

    We did manage to demonstrate and explain the recycling technology to many conference attendees.  A lot of schools seems interested in setting up a Polyformer in their makerspace. The experience was definitely worth lugging a 3D printer around UAE.

    [Figure 4: 3D Printer that we lugged around Dubai]

  • Dubai Plans and Rwanda goal

    Yang (Reiten) Cheng10/23/2022 at 04:43 0 comments

    Some exciting news! 

    We have been selected to attend The Global Gradshow in Dubai this November. At this conference, we will bring a Polyformer and a Polyformer-Lite to the show the filament recycling process. 

    After the conference, I will be heading back to the US but Swaleh will be heading to Rwanda to deploy some Polyformers at local makerspaces. Also, Swaleh will be bringing a few kits that he will building in Rwanda with the help of some cool Rwandese makers. Ideally, our partner makerspaces in Rwanda will be able to use the machines to make there own filament instead of purchasing from abroad.

    If you want to make your own Polyformer, you can build one from the kit at this link:

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jude_pullen wrote 11/07/2022 at 11:00 point

Love this project - congrats on the win.

Sorry if I missed it, but how do you 'splice' or 'combine' one bottle strand to the next? I was thinking this would be a good thing to show in your video if you can?

Either way, this is such a great demo of the potential of the technology, and is a compelling example of PET/PETG reuse. 

I think this would be great for schools to use also, as arguably it's the 'ambition' that will inspire kids to grow up thinking this way, even if I'm sure you'll advance this printer, just as with RepRap. 

Good luck!

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