Material Insights

Bringing Accessible Innovation to Mission Areas


Searching For a Total-Concept Recycling Solution

Dutch Defense and Research Institute, TNO, had been looking for a solution for recycling plastic waste.  They came to 3devo because it met their need for a total-concept recycling solution. After realizing the best location for their recycling efforts, TNO sent their 3devo unit to mission area Camp Castor, in Mali. The set-up in Mali consists of the shredder, which grinds plastic waste such as bottles and caps into small granulates, and a filament maker, which melts the granulates into filament suitable for 3d printers. 

Portable Experimentation

What appealed to TNO the most about 3devo, was the fact that these were not stationary factory machines, but rather desktop models that offered the convenience of portability. Prior to the use of the 3devo extruder, sustainable experimentation could only take place in laboratories. Now having the right tools, they have taken research into their own hands on base.  The desktop-sized devices have allowed Dutch soldiers to be self-sufficient in taking charge over their own recycling projects.

" We purposefully wanted to go to a mission area, so that we could experience what p roblems would arise in practice. " - Bart Zwiep , Innovation Manager at TNO



Bart has been an advocate for incorporating 3d printing within the field.  Having these technologies enables the camp to react faster to the constantly changing environment of live missions.

For some time now the Dutch Military has been using 3D printers as a solution for immediate fixes. It was only last June 2018, when 3devo machines were introduced to assist them with repurposing the amount of plastic they have consumed – which has helped them tremendously. On average, approximately 5 water bottles are used each day per person. That might not seem like much, but that equates up to 300 kilos of plastic waste per day. Even though Camp Castor produces about 300 kilos of plastic waste a day, their end goal is to recycle a large portion of it. Prior to the addition of 3devo,  the waste would be transported and incinerated. But now, because of the tools, they are able to process the raw material into filament compatible with 3D printers.

Sustainability Taking a Role in Innovation

In Castor, the plastic waste stream is typically clean plastic bottles.  This type of plastic and the condition it’s in is considered to be easy to recycle. The initial step of recycling, especially for the use of 3D printing, is experimenting. Starting off small, the first 3D prints with recycled materials have been simple items such as iPad holders and miniature chairs. These prints might seem trivial, but it has only been the first couple of steps of testing before jumping into larger projects. Recycling is always thought about but hardly ever pushed, but after using 3devo as a solution, recycling projects have been implemented instantly. Having this setup has allowed sustainability to play a huge role in innovation.


Eventually, after testing and experimenting the goal is to scale up, process more plastics, make more raw materials, and produce more essentials with 3d printers for camps. The dream will be to print out larger tables and chairs and the broken parts will be able to be repurposed. By printing defective or missing parts in a mission area, they will no longer have to wait for spare parts to arrive all the way from the Netherlands – which can sometimes take up to a couple of months. This will significantly increase operational readiness with the materials they already have – with a sustainable twist.


More info about the added value of 3D printing?
Check this story from the Defense newspaper.

Or read our Lapland University case study:
Read our Case Study

Or this video clip of 3devo machines
in action at Camp Castor.


You can also read more about this topic in
STERKER!, Dutch defense magazine, where
3devo’s applications in Mali are further reported.
Magazine #4 – December 2018 edition