Co-oproduct are very proud to have won the 'Responsible Waste Management' category at this years’ RSA accredited Sustainable City Awards for their ‘Closed Loop: 3D Printing from Plastic Packaging Waste’ project in collaboration with Nestlé Research and Nottingham Trent University (NTU). The Awards Ceremony was held in Mansion House London on the 23rd March and hosted by entrepreneur, TV personality, and conservationist Loyd Grossman.
Photo: Jamie Smith. From left: Jamie Billing, Sheriff Fiona Adler, Loyd Grosman, Tracy Cordingley.
During the period Jan 2014 - April 2014, Co-oproduct carried out a very short 3 Month feasibility project, exploring the possibilities of 3D Printing from waste plastic, with support from the Technology Strategy Board, Nestlé Research, NTU; ‘Working With You' and The Hive.
Co-oproduct Co-Founder Jamie Billing and NTU’s Senior Technician Kerry Truman, carried out the initial tests after modifying a Noztek filament extruder and building an open source RepRap 3D Printer. Jamie and Kerry were successful in 3D Printing from Polypropylene (PP) pellets made from waste packaging, as well as other waste packaging plastics; of which Co-oproduct believe to be the first documented evidence.
Image ©Co-oproduct CIC 2015. PP Quality Street Packaging: shredding, filament extrusion and initial 3D print tests.
Image ©Co-oproduct CIC 2015. PP Pellets from packaging waste: filament extrusion and initial 3D print tests.
Jamie Billing said, “PP is a fantastic material which is commonly used very widely in all sorts of packaging and other products. If managed properly, research suggests that it might be re-processed several times, however we expect that most of todays post-consumer PP ends up in Landfill after its first life, which is why we wanted to explore ways of reusing it”.
Low cost and open-source 3D Printers, such as Reprap and Makerbot mean that this not so long ago expensive technology is becoming much cheaper and now beginning to become feasible for home use. It is now possible to buy a 3D printer for a few hundred pounds or make one for even less, as Co-oproduct did. Many enthusiasts already do this and print their own objects from their own printers, in their own homes.
Add this to the growing trend in DIY ‘Maker’ communities such as Co-oproduct.org where people openly share Make-it-Yourself instructions and files that can be modified and printed by anyone, anywhere and… according to Co-oproduct, you have nothing short of a “revolution in the making”.
Describing the potential use of PP in Co-oproduct’s recent 3D Printing project, Jamie says “3D Printing from PP is a difficult challenge, since the plastic has a ‘memory’ and likes to return back to its previous state, when it cools. You need to heat PP if you want to 3D print from it and as it cools on a 3D print bed, it has the desire to ‘warp’ and ‘shrink’, which makes it very difficult to build on. However, we discovered that there are ways of ‘stabalising’ PP so that it doesn’t warp and shrink, both during initial extrusion into filament and during the actual printing process”.
Results from Co-oproduct’s independent LCA carried out by Econolyst Ltd in March 2013, indicated that their proposed closed loop reuse of PP packaging via 3D Printing, could potentially use 20 MJ less energy and 50% less water per 1Kg than the current, most popular 3D printing solution.
Co-oproduct.org is an open, community-driven educational ‘hub’ which champions best practice in reuse, repair and longer life design. It was founded by designers/educators Jamie Billing and Tracy Cordingley in 2012 and is now an award-winning platform, where designers join everyday people to openly share sustainable product design ideas from across the globe. See www.co-oproduct.org