Project: Net·Worth – the Precious Plastic Machines…

The final stages of the project were concentrated around the physical transformations of the material using the Precious Plastic open source plans – how can we use the existing machines to reprocess old fishing nets and create new products?

The Precious Plastic Machines…

Started in 2013, the Precious Plastics project was started by Dave Hakkens as a way of allowing individuals to set up their own, small scale remanufacturing hubs using waste plastic local to them. The open source plans for the machinery were designed to allow them to be built by those with relatively basic skills, and with raw materials / parts that were readily available, or could be swapped for other parts locally. This open source method has meant that the project has crossed the globe and brought plastic remanufacturing – and therefore value from waste plastic – to new communities.

It was decided that these plans would be the perfect basis for the latter stages of Project Net:Worth as we looked to create new ‘products’ from the waste trawl net.

Existing machines – issues and amendments…

The Precious Plastic project is formed of four main machines:

  • Plastic shredder
  • Injection moulder
  • Extruder
  • Compression Oven

Due to the nature of the project, the injection moulder and the shredder were chosen for initial development – to process the net into more manageable pieces and to mould them into new products.

However, on examining the plans of the shredder more closely, the rotational cutting system of the machine was not suitable for the net. The material would tangle and bind rather than shredding into smaller pieces for use in the next stages instead. A different type of shredding would be necessary for the material – a rotational disc-based shredder rather than an interlocking toothed system. Investigations were made as to the possible development time and cost, but it was soon discovered that this would be far more complex and costly than the time and budget allowed in the project. Therefore it was decided to concentrate the project efforts (and budget) on the injection moulder instead.

New machine – the Project Net·Worth injection moulder…

The initial machine from the Precious Plastics project was designed to take shredded / pelleted materials which were relatively rigid, rather than the flexible sections of net. However, we decided to build the machine from the plans, then make amendments to the designs subject to our discoveries.

The injection moulder was created locally by Plunge Creations, with only small adjustments required to the main tubing size to allow it to be created with ‘stock’ materials. The moulder was tested using net, and then delivered to the CPD studio for further testing…