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THE NEW LIFE OF MARINE PLASTIC

The world's seas are full of plastic, and the Baltic Sea has not been spared pollution. This is why the City of Helsinki's Baltic Sea Challenge has raised the issue of reducing plastic pollution to the top of this year's rapid experiments.

TEAM

Bloft design lab was selected to participate in rapid experiments to test the recycling of marine and beach plastic by 3D-printing. We have developed a large-scale 3D-printer and a printhead suitable for waste plastic processing, which we intend to use to test a new plastic recycling method.

 

We collect plastic waste from the shores of Helsinki, which is sorted, washed and crushed into a suitably sized flake. Of these, we 3D-print a SUP board designed by Romu Shapes designers.

Bloft design lab has been researching and developing large-scale 3D-printing technology since 2018. Last year, we tested the first iteration stage of the printer on two major projects. The findings gathered from them have influenced the design of the current development stage of the printer. We have also improved the performance of the printer in many ways, and with this version we are already getting close to the production model.

Atte Linna

CEO, Designer

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Ville Ojala

Designer

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The Baltic Sea Challenge is a joint network initiative of the cities of Helsinki and Turku, which invites organizations to commit to the protection of the Baltic Sea through their own Baltic Sea Operational Programs. In 2018, the Baltic Sea Challenge network already included 270 organizations from Finland and other Baltic Sea countries.

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TRAVELER

The Traveler is a SUP board designed by Romu Shapes, which will be printed as part of the Sea to Sea project. Only one material is used as the board material so that it can be recycled after its life cycle.

SUP-BOARD

Discussions at the first printer prototype and Ron’s surfing experience gave rise to the idea of ​​using marine plastic to make a surfboard. The rapid experiments of the Baltic Sea Challenge provided a great framework for bringing the idea into practice. We brought the idea closer to Finnish conditions and decided to implement an SUP board, which has become even more popular in recent years, instead of a surfboard.

Elvis Muhonen

Designer

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Ron Repo

Designer

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Tiesitkö, että empiiristen tutkimusten mukaan jo haurastuneen muovin ominaisuudet saadaan pitkälti elvytettyä sulattamalla se uudelleen.

CHALLENGING MATERIAL

It is estimated that 150 million tonnes of plastic have already entered the world's oceans, and that amount is increasing by 8 million tonnes every year. In the ocean, plastic is exposed to salt water and the sun’s UV radiation, which makes its structure brittle. The waves and the grinding movement on the beach or seabed break it down over time into microplastic, but only a small part of it really biodegrades.

 

Plastic recovered from the sea is often too dirty and difficult to handle to be the foundation for a profitable business. With our technology, we try to create the conditions for the recycling of marine plastic, and thus also for the local recycling business.

TECHNOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS

Due to the impurities in marine plastic, its use as a raw material for 3D printers has been very limited. As a rule, it has been used for the production of experimental printing filaments, which are used in printers operating by the filament extrusion method. However, contaminants can easily clog the printer nozzle. Processing plastic into a printing filament is also an unnecessary step that only consumes energy and resources.

 

With our first printer prototype, we found that filament extrusion technology is not suitable for a printer larger than the desktop model. The technology is becoming a bottleneck in terms of ecology, economy and efficiency.

Tiesitkö, että tavanomaiset lankapursotustulostimet käyttävät 0,4 mm suutinta, joka tukkeutuu helposti esim. muovin sekaan jääneen hiekanjyvän vuoksi.

Tiesitkö, että muovin kierrätyksen hyödyt kumuloituvat.

 

Jo ensimmäisen kierrätyskerran jälkeen muovin prosessoinnin hiilijalanjälki pienenee 50%

FROM PLASTIC SCRAP

TO RAW MATERIAL

We set out to develop a new type of printhead for our next large-scale 3D-printer prototype, which can bypass the most difficult phase of filament extrusion technology, namely the filament itself.

 

Instead of filament, the printhead utilizes waste plastic that is shredded into a small flake, e.g., from food packaging. In theory, we are able to process all thermoplastics, but our focus is on the so-called in the main plastics, which account for most of the world’s plastic pollution. More specifically, polypropylene, polyethylene, and PET familiar from plastic bottles.

 

By bypassing filament manufacturing, we save energy, labor and emissions caused by logistics. If it is possible to recycle waste, and especially marine plastic, by 3D-printing, we will be able to give problematic waste a new economic value and thereby encourage the recovery of plastic.

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