Dave Hakkens’ Open-Source “Precious Plastic” Recycler Machine
“Of all the plastic thrown away, I’ve heard that we recycle just ten percent and I wondered why we recycle so little,” Dave Hakkens told Dezeen magazine during the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show. The question led Dave Hakkens to several factories to observe production and eventually to build his own plastic recycler, the Precious Plastic machine. Dave Hakkens is also the founder of the Phoneblok project, a modular phone concept with Lego-like parts.
One major reason why a substantial portion of plastic waste is not being recycled is a low demand for factory-recycled material, which tended to produce sub-standard products than brand new plastic. Hakkens visited factories and saw that the machines were too expensive and too specific to be adapted for a smaller scale of production. It may be that manufacturers did not want to damage their machinery by recycling plastic waste.
Hakken’s Precious Plastic is a series of machines designed primarily to process plastic waste. It includes an extruder and a plastic shredder Hakkens modified to grind plastic bottles into small chips. He also used two modes of moulders: a rotation moulder and an injection moulder that could be used to shape different objects.
He also asked volunteers to collect old plastics for him. Bottles, plastic containers, and plastic chairs all found their way into the Precious Plastic machine. Hakkens was able to design several products from his machine including waste paper bins, lampshades, and spinning tops.
Hakkens used custom-made components and reclaimed parts from a scrap yard to build his machine. The plastic recycling machine was specifically built at a scale adaptable for local production. Hakkens plans to make his machine design open-source so they can be used and produced anywhere on the globe. He says “People can just make [the Precious Plastic machines] on the other side of the world, and maybe send some feedback and say ‘maybe you can do this better.”
“I have developed a series of machines to set up a small scale plastic workshop. The machinery is based on industry standards but designed to build yourself, easy to use and made to work with recycled plastic. You can bring your old plastic to a workshop like this, new products will be made and sold. Like a carpenter or a ceramist, it is now possible to produce plastic locally,” he explains in his site PreciousPlastic.com. For his invention, Hakkens won the Melkweg award plus the Keep-An-Eye award along with three of his teammates.
The Precious Plastic machine can be modified to produce an extensive range of objects. More importantly, Hakkens foresees his plastic recycling system as a possible component in 3D printing. Recycled plastic waste could be used as filaments well-suited to the additive technology of 3D printing. Should this combination work, it could be a very attractive and environmentally friendly solution indeed. The utilization of plastic waste to manufacture products customized to end users’ needs has a strong chance of being adapted on small scale production, thanks to Hakkens’ system. He plans to set up his workshop in Eindhoven for future operations.
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