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Plastic Plate Press, semi-DIY/semi-professional

This topic contains 96 replies, has 36 voices, and was last updated by  Phil Pickering 1 year ago.

Mark Bachrach markbertbach

Plastic Plate Press, semi-DIY/semi-professional

25/01/2018 at 12:23

Hi, I’m Mark, An Industrial Design Engineering student.
Currently, I’m working on my graduation project, the design of an Open-source plastic plate press for bottom-up recycling in low resource areas.

I’m planning on finishing v1 of my design before the end om May, this year, but a lot has to be done still.

in a few weeks I’ll start the real design work, and around the end of march I’ll start building a prototype.

But first I need to find out what people expect from such a machine, this is where your help comes in. If you are someone that would like to recycle plastic waste through use of a plate press, please help me and tell me what I need to know. To make it easy I made an online survey: https://mark171.typeform.com/to/yrgyP5

I’ll keep you posted on the results, developments and creations in future posts.

25/01/2018 at 12:23: Up til now I started collecting and small-scale experimentation with a panini iron.

07/03/2018 at 11:11: I’ve done a range of experiments, Gathered survey results from around the world, set a goal and now I’m doing actual design work. scroll further down this Topic to see what I’ve shared so far and feel free to comment, all help is very welcome.

03/12/2018 at 18:42:

since today, all of my documentation is publically available here

I did this project for and together with the MMID Foundation so make sure to attribute to them and me if you do any publications, as it says in the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

This nicely rounds off this project and since I am now working on the sheet-press at V4, still sponsored by the MMID Foundation, I’ve started a new Topic to keep you posted on all developments.

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05/03/2018 at 11:20

@flo-2 thx for the kind words, I agree, I hoped for more responses and that would definitely have bene better, but on the other hand considering the “complexity” of the survey and the remoteness of the participants I’m actually quite pleased.

05/03/2018 at 11:56

@sonik thx for your suggestions and compliment!

I was also thinking of a roller of some sorts, applying pressure with a roller, since then you would also add movement and make the air flow in a certain direction, allowing it to escape.

But in the meantime I’ve executed the clamp pressure test combined with one sided heating, which also worked quite well!

– 10 mm HDPE,
– melting with heat from bottom,
– open top,
– when molten up to top layer mould was closed and pressed with 25kg weight,
– after 10 minutes post heating and pressing, mould was taken out and pressed shut with glue clamps,
– Cooling for 3 hours outside at 0 degrees Centigrade

only a few tiny air bubbles, much better

have a look:

07/03/2018 at 17:48

Ok Guys, I need your help!

I drew up some ideas about the general process principle of pressing plastic plates. But now I need to gather valuable insights from (experience) experts to be able to make the right choice. This is where you guys (and girls) come in.

The process output goal: production of 1,22m x 1,22m x 12mm plastic plates, ca. 8 per day.

Any comments or thought would be helpful, but you would help me most by explaining for each (A – H) concept:

– What you think is nice
– What you are worried about
– What you think is bad
– What you don’t understand

And please tell me which you would build/buy and why.

Please consider that the simplicity of the drawings is intended to only talk about the general idea and not the specific materialisation, meaning that A screw press can be replaced by a weight or a quick clamp or a hydraulic jack.

07/03/2018 at 18:17

@markbertbach I think that using CNC machines it will be possible using digital carpentry to built a lot of stuff like furnitures, bikes rack,kids balance bikes and it could possible possible sell or organize kids bike riding school.

Pics doesn’t works, here 1 link

07/03/2018 at 18:42

As i am an adept of the “Kiss” principle (keep it simple, stupid), i would tend to solution A. This what i have in mind, but in one machine. Basically a long piece of steel with heater cartridges and a heated lid on one side, an adjustable roller in the middle and a cooling area.

07/03/2018 at 21:08

@markbertbach Amazing drawings!

I don’t think it’s a good idea to just take the processes of Iron processing and apply them 1:1 to plastic. But hey, you can always try it 😉

E is basically the compression process, should work.

H is basically the injection process, not sure that would work due to the large volume (you would need a looooooooooot of pressure to get it in the mold)

F is an interesting concept, worth a try! (Maybe start with a working 1:10 Model)

D is more or less what the community recently built (also our attempt)

C is basically the same as E right?

Overall, great brainstorming and documentation, however with most of these fulfilling the budget from your study will be hard.
Keep on researching and keep us updated please, this is a really great and information-rich topic!

All the best

08/03/2018 at 11:46

@flo-2 Thx a lot for you considerations!

Rolling softened plastic into sheets is actually an existing industrial process, thats also why I put it in, but I worried that it might be too complex to to low budget.

09/03/2018 at 19:39

you are doing an awesome job ! thanks for sharing your experience.
about your process, I think solution ‘E’ would be the best adapted to what you want to do. This oven is probably the cheapest and easiest to build of all the solutions (the press as well by the way).
‘C’ may not be more expensive but I think there is no cheap solution to fix this air bubble issue.
an alternative to ‘E’ would be to use an extruder to produce the molten plastic mass, I think it’s the best way to get rid of air. But it can be integrated latter, and by the way you could diversify your products.

All the best !

10/03/2018 at 01:46

Hi thanks for the sharing…
For me ‘e’ will be the more easy
What’s about this press on the last Dave video?

Waiting for news from you

Precious regards

10/03/2018 at 11:37

How feasible would it be to try an build a heating element/system for an existing press?

for example, these presses are very much affordable:


if 6 tons of pressure is enough, you even can have one for under 100€

(I’m not affiliated with trade4u)

12/03/2018 at 16:44

Thank you all very much for your ideas and suggestions! On the side I have evaluated the concepts with other experts that are concerning themselves with plastic recycling, plastic, processing and or plate presses. with these insights I made some new graphs that have room for uncertainty but do provide insight in the selection.

Most importantly, I first selected on feasibility, after that only 3 concepts were left in the race. now the choice is between low cost and plate quality.

I think I am going for plate quality and thus choose concept ‘B’

16/03/2018 at 16:57

OK, I chose to go forward with concept B, but I first wanted to proof that it would work. Luckily I tried it out because afterwards I came back to the decision. Now I want to continue with concept ‘C’, Which I tested again, which proved that it works quite well.

The most important insight was the simplicity of the process,
Rolling caused every thing to bend and move and it took too long.
While ‘cold’ pressing with a simple press after melting in an oven, is very simple in materials and process. A flatbed press exerts the pressure evenly over the entire surface and the pressing part of the process occurs quicker, resulting in better surface quality. See the pictures below.

The plan for now is to design a mould and press that are perfect for this process, pressing well defined plastic plates. The press and build plan will be designed in such a way that you can easily adjust it to the size you want or that fits the oven that you have or can acquire.

Next to that I’ll do a suggestion on how to build your own oven.

I’ll keep you updated!

16/03/2018 at 17:26

Picking up topic on the run, i’m sorry to bother you but URL seems dead, would you mind reuploading the Process-principle-concepts.pdf please?

Thanks for all the precious info supplied on this post !

Wish you the best,



06/04/2018 at 00:30

This is exactly what im looking for a 3/4 in 4×4 sheet.

11/04/2018 at 10:46

You have made so much progress @markbertbach, congratulations!
And to think that you started with just a black-plastic-poop sandwich 🙂

11/04/2018 at 14:05

@xxxolivierxxx , thx for the compliments!

In the mean time, I’ve made more progress!
But I lack the time to do a good update, so I’ll do a quick one:

I bought a Pizza oven! 650€ :(, but with inner dimensions of 120x90x30 😀

I bought a book press! 50€ 🙂 with pressing surface 50×50 🙂

I improved my process and mould design resulting in 99% solidity!

I added cooling blocks on both sides of the press, Hollow square pipes, this enforces even cooling resulting in very Good flatness!

The mould design is also improved with a cutoff edge, resulting in minimal fleshing!

See all in the pictures below. all plates are 500x500x12mm

As always feel free to contact me for more info
Or reply with comments, suggestions or questions.

In the coming weeks I’ll be designing and building the press for 1220x1220x12mm plates, I’ll report back with new results!

11/04/2018 at 17:31

@markbertbach what do you ue the plates for?

11/04/2018 at 17:45

Nothing yet, but they are going to be used in furniture and anything else that people would like to use them for

12/04/2018 at 09:53

Thank you a lot for this topic, with so much information and ideas !
We also plan to start making recylcling plastic plates with the final goal of building a complete boat with it (on an aluminium structure).

I was first thinking of extruding thin panels as done in plastic industry to built sheet (sheet extrusion process).

On your last try, how do you do to be sure to optain the required thickness ? Do you use some kind of wedge to stop the press ? If then, how are you sure the pressure is sufficiant to remove all the bubbles ?

Thank you for your answer !

18/04/2018 at 11:03


In the mould I place a frame with a special section profile, the edge limits the pressing hight and by making sure the last bit is only 1.5 mm width, the cutoff pressure builds up. this results in the very thin fleshing that you can just rip off, sometimes it even stays behind in the mould being completely cutoff.

this edge is bolted to the sheetmetal tub, the chamfer you see on the profile is there to leave room for the curved corner of the sheetmetal tub.

But for manufacturing simplicity I made a redesign which I’ll share later on

21/05/2018 at 07:14

Fantastic work brother!  This was a stellar read, looking forward to seeing your final solution.

29/05/2018 at 16:29

Hi, @markbertbach, we follow with interest this thread in our FabLab because we are also looking to make plastic sheets. Thank you so much for sharing.
Have you made progress in your project ?

29/05/2018 at 18:25

An update will be there soon,
I’m currently building the prototype,
for now just some foto’s:

11/06/2018 at 14:02

I finished the machine!
And the mould!

and today I’m pressing my first plate!!

11/06/2018 at 14:07

Wonderful ! Bravo !!

11/06/2018 at 14:54

That looks like a proper machine! I like the use of air/hydraudlic jacks.

11/06/2018 at 18:18

Sorry, this was a double post.

11/06/2018 at 18:23

The first plate has been pressed!
750 x 1050 x 12 mm

2hr melting in a preheated oven 250 C
1hr cooling with fan blowing through press bed tubes, surrounding/room temperature 32 C

I only need some small mould improvements for better releasing.
And I’ll make a redesign on the machine before I’ll share it.

Let me know what you think I should improve/ think about/ …

I’ll keep you posted

12/06/2018 at 09:26

I quickly made a small movie for you guys:

I’ll make a better movie in the coming weeks

12/06/2018 at 12:43

Very impressive! Looks like a nice consistent result, and also a very useful size plate.


I’d be interested know how many kWh of energy in total it takes to produce one plate of this size, even a rough guess. I imagine the oven will use the most, but there’s also shredding of the plastic, the fan to cool it down, and even a small amount for the air compressor.

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