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Melted Material Art - How to Reuse Failed prints and Excess Plastics

Today's installment covers a Behind the Scenes of how we make sure to get the most out of our PLA Materials...even the bits that would usually be deemed as waste!


This blog post will cover both a Step to Step for all your 3D Printing enthusiasts and a Behind the Scenes for all our Poly Prints 3D community.

The main material we use here is PLA, this is a biodegradable material that is made from recycled materials such as cornstarch. Click here for more details on the material.

During the 3D Printing process you find that excess material is a thing nearly every print, usually from supports for the actual print. However there is always some failed prints which at first feels like a little defeat and something for the recycling bin...but with this method we can reduce that and create something unique to each person!

Creating your own Modern Tray Art from Excess PLA Material

Step 1 - Set up and Gather Material

Grab yourself a baking tray or any oven tray preferably a non-stick material to save you any trouble at the end. Gather all your excess Material from your prints of 3D past. Pre Heat your Oven to 250 (I used a Fan Oven) and let it climb up to tempurature.

Step 2 - Place PLA into position

Get your Material and spread it evenly as possible throughout the tray. If you have many different colors try spread them about it will create a much crazier finish. Take into consideration that the bottom of the tray will be the smooth top of the finished product so thats where you want all your best colors if applicable.

If you have loads of PLA that seems to be overflowing the tray, pile it up as it will liquidise and flatten out but be careful not too much as you really dont want to be overflowing the tray. You can add more during the oven process if you feel safer doing so.

Step 3 - Place into Oven and wait

Place your to be masterpiece into the Oven in the middle and wait. You should see any thinner bits melting right away, make sure everything stays inside the tray edges.

Leave in the oven until melting further, check on it every 15 minutes to be sure everything is going to plan. If everything appears to be melted and its alot lower than you thought, add some more PLA to the top to fill up the full layers.

Step 4 - Remove, Compress and Return to Oven

Remove your tray after about 30minutes to view results so far. Some areas may need to be compressed down to even out if you had a area of thin supports compared to a failed terminator print!

This is easily done with a metal kitchen utensil of any kind, be careful not to burn yourself always use heatproof oven gloves.

At this stage you can also scrape/ style any patterns into the melted PLA, it should be thick but liquid enough to add a few swirls or zig zags!

After you are happy return it to the oven.

Step 5 - Let it Cool

Remove your melted PLA tray from the oven and place in a safe location to cool naturally. This may take some time depending on how much material you used. Its important to let it cool fully as if you remove too early you may get strands still stuck to the tray ruining the final finish.

Step 6 - Recycled Modern Art at its 3D Printing Finest!

Use a thin utensil like a knife to remove the melted PLA from the tray. Flip it over and view your creation.

Here is the original one I did, I have created several others since. All unique in every time due to melting patterns and material color placement.


As you can see there is a bevel around the edge from the baking tray shape, you could use this in any tray mold to create some really cool recycled art.

Its important in today's world to reuse our materials as much as possible to prevent excess waste. This is a brilliant method to reduce all of our 3D printing waste and create them into something arty!

We here at Poly Prints will look to sell these and donate the proceedings to a charitable cause helping protect the environment such as - Please anyone else here who is 3D Printing to make these we encourage you to do the same, as a community we could make an impact.

The material you see is using SUNLU PLA filament, which we use for most of our printing products. - check them out with this link - (this is an affiliate link so purchasing via that link will give us a small commission which helps us keep writing great content like this blog)

If you are a 3D Printing Owner and this has helped you, please feel free to Share this to your friends or groups to spread the good word. If you are a Customer wanting this done for yourself in a Arty way like a drinks coaster, then get yourself to our Contact Us page to speak with our team!

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Thank you and until next time, Happy Printing!


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