Who isn't making 3D printers these days? We've seen countless models hit the market, but the new Ekocycle Cube from 3D Systems may be the first to boast backing from both a beverage maker and a celebrity. Coca-Cola and will.i.am have been collaborating on the sustainability initiative dubbed Ekocycle since 2011, and at CES this year the artist shared his passion for 3D printing and other emerging tech. As the latest announcement in the eco-friendly campaign, the new printer uses post-consumer plastic to create a variety of designs. It's not the first attempt at make 3D-printing a bit greener, but with some star power and the clout of 3D Systems behind it, the Ekocycle Cube definitely looks to be the highest-profile one to date.
The design is based on the Cube 3 from 3D Systems, with touchscreen controls and the same boxy look, but the Ekocycle sports a flashier red shade on the inside -- and, most importantly, the new product will only print filament that's partially comprised of recycled plastic. The cartridges aren't made exclusively from recycled plastics, though; each one contains about 25 percent of post-consumer PET plastic bottles.
Each cartridge gives you about three plastic water bottles' worth of material, and the printer ships with designs for rings, guitar picks and phone cases, among other things. The Ekocycle Cube can print materials up to 6 inches cubed in size with a 70-micron resolution, and users can buy filament in black, red, white and "natural" colors. It's unclear how much individual cartridges will cost, but the Cube itself is expected to retail for $1,200 when it launches later this year.