Green Meeting with the University of Wisconsin Makerspace

Green Meeting with the University of Wisconsin Makerspace

Discussion Topics and Brain Storming from the University of Wisconsin’s “Green Makerspace” Meeting


  • Partnerships can help direct what types of materials are being purchased and used as well as how waste is directed in and out of makerspaces


  • 3D printing causes most visible waste due to :
    • Inexperienced users 3D printing
    • Failed prints/machine problems
    • People leaving prints / never collecting prints
    • People printing without putting thought into why they are printing/what it will be used for


  • Less than a half of visitors use consumables , and from that half, half use either the 3D printers or laser cutters.
    • Would be interesting to find out and catalog ratio of failed prints/cuts to successful prints and cuts.


  • Currently (pre-covid) use about 10-12 rolls of filament per quarter and restocks happen once a quarter



  • Hard to take action without institutions/city’s preexisting infrastructure or policy. It is also hard to do so alone and/or without network of people and other makerspaces trying to do the same thing.
    • With a network focus there can be more accountability and solutions rather than trying to do everything alone.


  • Lots of people across ‘Maker’ fields are interested in sustainability but many loose commitment or don’t get back to others.
    • Why this happens is a focal question of study
    • Covid has made this more prevalent and also the tracking of resource and waste flows more difficult.
In future:
  • In future UWM makerspace could join Advisory board network
  • There will be follow up a meeting to talk about findings and potential ways that makerspaces can be more sustainable.
  • The IRL can do things like: lifecycle assessments in the context of our space, environmental training, further research into waste flows of our own spaces.



We at the IRL are always looking for ways to become more sustainable. IRL Staff Members Rachel Black and Maddie Fernandez recently met with UWM Makerspace representatives to talk about some of the ways we can improve. The meeting really brought to light the amount of plastic filament waste that can be attributed to 3D-printing.

The IRL is currently exploring environmental training and tracking waste flows, and the lab is always open to suggestions. If you have any resources that might help us and other makerspaces reduce waste, please let us know!

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Maddie Fernandez
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