LDPE Plastic Marble
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Hi PP community,
In November, I’m starting my own LDPE workspace full time and would love to hear what you guys think of the feasibility of it all.
I will be making marble-like desk/coffee tables out of LDPE packaging taken from mostly businesses that throw it away. The plastic is usually the packaging that surrounds PVC or aluminum double glazing products, so clear and not highly contaminated.
I will not shred the plastic, however this complicates things as if there is contamination then it will be harder to wash in the washing machine. I will try my best to remove any contaminants before putting it in the washing machine (machine will be set up similar to this THREAD and using microplastic bags).
The good thing about the marble-like process is that it doesn’t require shredding of the plastic but only heating from 95-115 degrees C for it to melt. Then the plan is to mold it by hand when it comes out from the oven then using a hydraulic press, a wooden frame and flat metal sheets to compress the hot plastic as shown below.
Any pieces that will go over the edge of the sheets will be cut off and recycled again. The final product should be a marble-like sheet that will then be polished and cut to customer’s specifications. We will then screw simple table legs, design of this is still pending.
The whole aim of this project is obviously start small at the start but ultimately produce large volumes of sheets to allow us to produce a multiple products such as bathroom tiles, coffee tables and desks in the future.The retail price of our coffee table is currently 159 euros and it will cost us 78.54 euros to produce (including electricity, workshop and labour). End to end of production time is 12 hours but 2 and a half hours of hands-on labour (polishing, cutting and assembly). Production projections are of 20 sheets per month after 3 months of starting the project.
I will keep this post updated on our progress, but does anyone has some thoughts on using LDPE for this specific application? (Pictures attached of the potential final product – taken from Weez and Murl website who use LDPE for their products).
Have you made a full size desktop or table top with you process? LDPE is fairly soft material, what kind of structure will support it? Did you see the PP 300 Kg conference table build video http://onearmy.world/preciousplastic/a-massive-table-from-recycled-plastic/ ?
No I haven’t just yet, have been looking at lot online, people making chopping boards and plates. They seem pretty sturdy.
In terms of design, that’s a good point. We will try to use a old table feets for now, taken from old tables. Metal over wood
Yes saw that video, Jaden seems like such a cool dude. 300kg is a big big table, there’s no forum article for how they made right?
No documentation that I know of unfortunately. That was made of PS which is a lot stiffer than LDPE They still used a lot of steel under the table. I would definitely make some full scale prototypes before you commit to full time.
Yeah I imagine, I’m thinking LDPE because there’s tones of it everywhere.
These guys have managed to make a table out of LDPE for a design conference or something similar…
I guess have you already considered combining other materials as glass, metals, and especially epoxy which gives you lots of options. You could increase your product’s value a lot, assuming you can market it as well at some point. I heard a few times that competing/creating with virgin plastic isn’t exactly a business model; even though marble like textures is a little beyond that.
I have thought about that but the problem is then the plastic doesn’t become recyclable anymore once I mix it with other stuff.
LDPE gives out a good finish and if my process is correct I won’t need to polish it and all
I am happy to see your concerns; good thinking ! By combining I rather meant :
– metal, wood for structural/joint material
– glass, acrylic & epoxy for protection (table) whereby epoxy doesn’t need to be glued
there are amazing magazines and books you can find in the shelf of furniture makers or carpenters, designers, etc…
Haha I see what you mean. I was thinking of passing beams of HDPE into the table top to make it stronger but recycling that would be a nightmare.
Would you have any book recommendations ?
not in particular; may be a walk to the library or google image search ‘interior design NEAR plastic‘. I see our mates in the Tarragona Lab this weeks; there is a guru (Professor) who has an astonishing library, also with good skills in thermo-forming; I will ask him. Other than that, there are also quite some more dedicated designer portals on the web. Facebook groups also have good stuff on that.
I think there’s a market for plastic marble worktops without legs. I would concentrate on making the worktops and think about legs later, and focus particularly on how to market your product and start making money.
One niche market you could target would be worktops for live-in van conversions. Van kitchens require lightweight worktops which are small in size. You can do an off-the-shelf size and more expensive bespoke sizes. An easy market to reach via van conversion forums and facebook groups.
Super cool advice thanks, van life is on the rise at the moment for sure!
It’s a little hard at the moment to identify who exactly is my customer, I’m still trying to figure that out.
So the plan is to be a Lean as possible when I start, making sheets a 3 cms thick in high volume then making cuts for all sorts of applications such as bathroom tiles, roof tiles, table tops, kitchen top and van tops too. I’m thinking if I make the sheets then I can easily cut them into whatever I think the market wants or needs. It will allow to test everything out and see what sells best.
All left overs from the cuts can go back into the manufacturing process.
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