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Parks & Recreation

Posted on: April 22, 2019

K. B. Willett Plastic Repurposed through Large-Scale 3D Printer

Dasher boards made of Type-2 plastic were removed from the K.B. Willett Ice Arena during remodeling, and CREATE Portage County is going to shred them and use the plastic in a large-scale 3D printer, preventing them from taking up space in a landfill.

The Public and Private Sectors are colliding in Stevens Point as the renovation of K. B. Willett Ice Arena has provided a unique opportunity for collaboration.

The rink, home to the reigning Division 3 Men’s Hockey National Champs, is undergoing much needed renovations that include a new compressor, new press box, and a new boards. Covered front to back in type-2 plastic, demolition of the boards was going to add a mass of plastic to a landfill.

Eager to avoid that environmental impact, Stevens Point Parks Director Tom Schrader called CREATE Portage County to see if they would take it instead.

CREATE is a community development nonprofit that invests in the arts, innovation, and creativity to improve the quality of life in Stevens Point. The organization runs an innovation center that supports creative arts, business, and community projects with work, meeting and makerspaces, and other shared resources.

CREATE recently added a second 3D printer to their center. With a few planned tweaks, this printer will be the only publicly available large-scale 3D printer in North America capable of printing directly from recycled plastics.

The large source of plastic from the rink is providing CREATE with its first feedstock for the machine, which will have the capacity of printing objects up to four feet by four feet by eight feet in size. The organization hopes to repurpose the boards into benches, public art, oversized game pieces, and other community-designed creations. The machine will also be able to print other goods for businesses and innovators prototyping new products.

“We love opportunities to bring what’s best about our community together,” said Greg Wright, Executive Director of CREATE. “This project is engaging environmentalists, sports enthusiasts, techies, and artists - all working together to make our community a better place.”

To learn more about CREATE, the 3D printer, or their innovation center, you can visit www.createportagecounty.org.

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