Subtractive Manufacturing: what happens to the chips?



  • One thing I like about 3D printing is the fact of additive manufacturing where you make something from nothing and have basically no waste (ignore failed prints and support for a second). But I of course also see the benefits of subtractive manufacturing be it CNC or classical machining.

    But I always wondered what happens with the chips (or however the remove material is called -might differ based on method, no clue)? I would imagine that wood chips could be burned in an oven/furnace but what happens to metal chips? Or any kind of plastics? Can you return them to your stock supplier so they get recycled?

    Looking forward to finally get this "mystery" solved. 😉



  • For metal machining chips are collected and sold as scrap to recycling companies who melt it down and reprocess it.

    Wood chips/dust can be burned for energy or reprocessed into various wood products (mdf, etc.).

    Plastics can sometimes be recycled depending on the material, or can be used as filler in other products.



  • @nhof said in Subtractive Manufacturing: what happens to the chips?:

    For metal machining chips are collected and sold as scrap to recycling companies who melt it down and reprocess it.

    Wood chips/dust can be burned for energy or reprocessed into various wood products (mdf, etc.).

    Plastics can sometimes be recycled depending on the material, or can be used as filler in other products.

    +1 We recycle tons of metal chips every year.



  • OK, I like that it gets recycled (was the most sensible option anyway). But when used with coolant, do you have to wash this first or will it be returned/sold "contaminated"?



  • https://www.thebalancesmb.com/an-introduction-to-metal-recycling-4057469
    This will explain a lot.
    tl;dr: They sort it before melting and then they also purify it when melted.


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