This Is How You Can Use 3D Printing To Make Giant Structures Using Old Plastic Bottles


Plastic bottles are extremely versatile and useful until you have to recycle them. This nonbiodegradable packaging is incredibly difficult to break down, thus present a grave recycling problem and adds to the plethora of human waste on the planet. But a group of researchers from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany has found a unique way to reuse the material, as they present a technique to build structures like chairs, boats and even outdoor shelters using the bottles.

Photo courtesy Hasso Plattner Institute

Using a bottle to build things isn’t as easy as when using steel, lumber or bricks, so the researchers have come up with a software called TrussFab that allows them to estimate the orientation and number of bottles required to piece the 3D model together and create usable structures out of otherwise wasted plastic bottles.

The TrussFab software also automatically calculates the stresses and loads on the structure, thus the design of a structure of, for example, a soda bottle chair, that can support an 180-pound human.

Photo courtesy Hasso Plattner Institute

The TrussFab’s software also designs adequate custom plastic connectors that allow the bottle heads to be connected which are small enough to be fabricated on a desktop 3D printer. The bottom side of the bottles is then simply screwed using a double ended wooden screw. All these details are narrated in their paper.

Photo courtesy Hasso Plattner Institute

We don’t know the future of the TrussFab software and its products, but apart from the risk of the entire structure falling apart with a small knife cut, the idea is pretty neat!

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