Device made by 3D Systems will go on sale later this year, using cartridges partly made from recycled plastic bottles
Will.i.am’s iPhone camera accessory may not have taken the gadget world by storm, but his next technology product could make more of an impact: a 3D printer that sources its materials partly from recycled plastic bottles.
The Ekocycle Cube printer is being made by 3D Systems, the US-based manufacturer that announced Will.i.am as its chief creative officer in January this year. Coca-Cola is also a partner in the project, which is an offshoot from its existing Ekocycle venture with the Black Eyed Peas star.
3D Systems will start selling the device in the second half of 2014 with a launch price of $1,199 (£706). Its cartridges will include filament – 3D printing’s equivalent of ink for traditional printers – partly made from used plastic bottles.
The company says each cartridge will contain 25% of “post-consumer recycled materials”, using an average of three bottles.
The Ekocycle Cube is very on-brand, printing objects of up to six inches cubed in red, black, white or “natural” colours. Will.i.am is designing 25 “fashion, music and tech minded accessories” for buyers of the device, which will also use the Cubify smartphone app to browse and print designs.
“We will make it cool to recycle, and we will make it cool to make products using recycled materials,” said Will.i.am in a statement. “This is the beginning of a more sustainable 3D-printed lifestyle. Waste is only waste if we waste it.”
It’s the star’s latest technology venture, following on from his “director of creative innovation” role with Intel, announced in January 2011. Will.i.am also had a minority stake in Beats Electronics, the headphones brand recently bought by Apple for $3bn.
His other tech projects include building social media site Dipdive in 2008; launching apps developer Will.i.apps in 2011 to make a music video app for the Black Eyed Peas; and producing a range of i.am+ iPhone accessories in 2013.
In April this year, he showed off a prototype smartwatch during an appearance on British comedian Alan Carr’s chat show, telling the audience: “I started the company myself. I funded it, used my own money to develop it.”
In an appearance (via Skype) at music industry conference Midem in February, Will.i.am said that more musicians should be following the lead of Beats founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre in getting into hardware.
“It’s sad that as a collective industry, we don’t do our own hardware. It’s only three people: Jim, Dre and myself – that’s Beats – that have hardware,” he said.
“I surround myself with megasupergeeks, so we can make and market hardware and things like that. Maybe I’m chasing something I would probably never catch, but I’ve been here before when I was in the ghetto chasing the dream of starting a band.”