From plastic waste to protective gear

Armed with a bucket-full of plastic scraps from a 3D printer, Engineering Product Design students got busy making treasure out of trash this semester.

Sustainable Development Goals 12 - Responsible consumption and production

They set out to create elbow pads and wrist guards for skateboarders but had to overcome a number of creative and technical challenges along the way.

“First, we shredded up ABS (plastic) in the maker space,” student Levi Painter explains. “The original plan was to use the heat press to make sheets of ABS and then weld the layers together, so they would fit in the thermoformer. But then instead we used my flat’s toastie press to create the sheets which we formed around the moulds while they were hot.”

The programme was helping students to think differently she said. “Just because there are machines here, you don’t have to do it that way, you can always create product’s another way. There’s a lot of thinking outside the box in product design.”

The team of Levi Painter, Joshua Wilson, Annabel Rutherford-Levien and Al-Rafi Bandie passed the challenge. “I am very pleased and proud of my students’ effort, passion, and creative thinking,” Industrial Product Design Lecturer Hossein Najaf Zadeh says.

“Recycling the selected waste plastics presents a big challenge to New Zealand’s recycling infrastructure. This will benefit from better uses of plastics, such as PLA (coffee cup covers and 3D printing filaments), high-density polypropylene (milk and water jugs), and low-density polyethene (from ropes to carpets and clothing).

“At the School of Product Design, we know the future of this planet rests in the hands of those we educate. Therefore, it is our duty to engage our practitioners with the creativity and responsibility of their design,” Zadeh says.

Watch the video of Levi, Annabel and Josh here.

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