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I am pretty sure that sanding makes a lot of microplastics, so it would be nice to collect the dust, and melt it to got a blob of plastic again instead of millions of tiny particles. What is the best way for collecting it, do you use any dust extractor, or are there different techniques like sanding wet surfaces and filtering it from water?

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    $\begingroup$ What material? In my experience sanding PLA just doesn't work without water. You quickly hit the glass transition temperature then it just softens. $\endgroup$ Jun 19 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE It is PLA, maybe later ABS. I figured meanwhile, that it would be the best to treat the water with chemicals to break down the microplastics. $\endgroup$
    – inf3rno
    Jun 19 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ Melting it has a significant energy impact. As suggested, vacuuming with bags or without bags and then dumping it in the garbage is the best, it will be collected, separated, burned. $\endgroup$
    – FarO
    Jun 21 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ @FarO If you throw it to the garbage it will show up in the food chain. Nobody will recognize microplastics, for them it is just a bag of dust. Burning won't happen either in most countries, they just throw it to a landfill. Better to handle it where you produce it. $\endgroup$
    – inf3rno
    Jun 21 at 16:48
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As an environmental thing, micro plastics are an urgent problem for ocean life, it’s getting into the entire food chain. With that in mind dumping it down the drain would be the worst, city filtration systems can’t get the tiny bits of plastic before it drains into the ocean. Sanding outside is kind of bad. I sand stuff over a lined waste basket outside, which maybe catches 75% of the dust. Inside (or outside) with a vacuum running would be good, I think best would be a vacuum with disposable bags. Yes it is still micro plastics, but it ends up at the dump, where the soil is already poisoned, and hopefully nowhere near the ocean/waterways, and likely will stay there while it breaks down. PLA takes ~80 years, but ABS takes 1000 years.

The idea of collecting the dust and fusing it sounds like it would be too much hassle to be feasible long term, it’s good, sustainable habits over years that add up.

As a side note, card scraping is a nice way to smooth 3D prints, that doesn’t make fine dust.

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    $\begingroup$ PLA may actually degrade faster as a microplastic than it would as a solid blob. $\endgroup$
    – user10489
    Jun 21 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ And not all the garbage goes to the dump. It is often (and hopefully) burned. $\endgroup$
    – FarO
    Jun 21 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ while down the drain isn't a good idea, the sewage processing will remove it before it is released. It's plastic thrown on the ground and washed down the storm drains with the unprocessed rain water that causes the problem, unless you are in a country that doesn't process sewage. $\endgroup$
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 21 at 13:09
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I decided to collect the dust and treat both PLA and ABS with chemicals to completely break them down. That solves the issue and I won't rely on false hopes that somehow it does not end up in the environment.

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  • $\begingroup$ What chemical did you find that breaks down PLA? From my reading, there are few solvents that will affect it... $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 21 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ ABS is used for drain pipes, so it's chemically pretty tough stuff. Most folks who want do something to it use solvents (acetone is top of the list) but you don't want to put those into your own environment, never mind the world -- and they don't break it down anyway; when the solvent evaporates the ABS is left behind. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 21 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, properties wise, PETG does almost everything ABS does, but is somewhat easier to print (say people who've been at this much longer than I have). Probably not any easier to break down, though, but easier to re- or up-cycle... $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 21 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ Check YouTube for Maker's Muse channel, he had a video where he showed prints that had been outdoors in Australia for a year. Overall, even PLA held up well. Don't use it for anything that goes in your car, though; it'll sag above about 120F, which cars in summer easily exceed. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 21 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ For something that will live on your desk, there's no reason to look any further than PLA. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 21 at 19:38

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