Looking for a great example of how plastic waste can be upcycled using additive manufacturing or ‘3D printing’? A unique, green recycled plastic trophy has been designed, printed and awarded to Typhon Treatment Systems as part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme’s ECO I North West. The designer behind the trophy is Matthew Whittingham, a Research Analyst at Manchester Metropolitan University, who used two different 3D printing technologies to make the main body of the trophy – the green part – and the base. He made the body from recycled PLA filament obtained from a company called Filamentive that turns post-industrial waste into 3D printing filaments, while the base was made from nylon using the HP Multi-jet Fusion printer. The entire trophy is stabilised by filling the base with recycled aggregate sourced from demolition and building wastes. Once printed, the trophy was vapour smoothed to achieve an injection-moulded-like finish.
When asked about the trophy’s unusual shape, Whittingham said “I started with a shape that’s essentially the EU flag, then twisted it into a hexagon to represent carbon saving for Eco-I North West. The base was ‘form follows function’ as it needed to be big enough to fit the logos and award title.”
TRANSFORM-CE’s lead partner, Manchester Metropolitan University, is one of a consortium of six universities in the ERDF-funded Eco-I North West project, which covers the north west of the United Kingdom. Launched in 2020, the three-year project is now working with more than 180 SMEs across the region to accelerate the green economic recovery. Through its work, Eco-I North West hopes to support businesses to innovate for a low-carbon future, increasing resilience, and stimulating sustainable growth. The project offers a range of interventions, starting with a series of workshops on low-carbon innovation. The SMEs that complete this phase and develop an idea for a project will receive customised support from Eco-I North West, including access to specialist expertise, knowledge, equipment, technology, research and development.
As an added stimulus, Eco-I North West launched the One-to-Watch Award for partner SMEs that have developed or are working on a new and scalable low-carbon product, service, process or partnership that will have a positive impact on the environment and society. The winning SME was Typhon Treatment Systems which is pioneering a LED ultraviolet (UV) water treatment technology. “Eco-I NW has given us a fantastic opportunity to expand and validate our research,” said Audrius Židonis, lead mechanical engineer for Typhon. “Our partnership with Lancaster University has expedited the process and has given us additional credibility as we talk to potential customers. As a young company this has been very important.”
A one-to-watch technology
The trophy is a great example of how additive manufacturing can serve to create bespoke, custom products – such as awards – with short turn around times. As no tooling or moulds are needed in the production, there are minimal up-front costs, and the designs can be printed as unique, one-off pieces on-demand. The technology also allows for rapid prototyping, whereby designs can quickly be visualised, shared, critiqued and adjusted – an important part of the design development process. This also helps to ensure that the final product meets requirements. Whilst the business awarded the trophy is certainly ‘one-to-watch’, we believe the technology used to make the trophy – additive manufacturing - is definitely one-to-watch too!
In this case, the trophy was printed using commercially available recycled filament made from post-industrial waste. TRANSFORM-CE is going a step further by exploring post-consumer recycled materials as feedstocks for additive manufacturing filament. Both technologies reduce plastic waste and conserve resources. Any companies that are interested in exploring the potential of using recycled plastic raw materials are welcome to contact TRANSFORM-CE to discuss business support opportunities. Businesses, schools and individuals are also encouraged to request a free sample spool of filament to trial. We look forward to hearing from you!