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Precious Plastic Version 4? 😮

Dave Hakkens davehakkens

Precious Plastic Version 4? 😮

30/01/2018 at 22:19

You might have been aware that we launched Precious Plastic Version 3 a few months back. Maybe. We made many new things, introduced the bazar, container workspace, a series of art objects, a map for collaboration, more techniques and a way for the community to share their own tutorial videos. Quite a lot. Our main focus for this version was on expanding the platform and making it easier for people to collaborate.

This period is really fun for us. Seeing what the community, you guys do with the information. Always exciting to see if its used the way we intended. But besides observing we also gather feedback, comments, posts, topics we see or improvements we could do. And I can’t help myself, but slowly I think about what a V4 would look like.

So thats where this topic is for. To share your ideas, suggestions,improvements. What would you like Precious Plastic to work on and improve next? Throw it in here! Together we set the course 💪
*Oh and I might look inactive every now and then because i don’t leave a reply but I read all of it. No kidding.

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02/06/2018 at 10:11

Something really interesting to me would be a BIGGER INJECTION MACHINE that could melt and inject more plastic at the same time, like 3 or 5 more.

Injection process is the best way to produce object in serie with very little finishing, but i noticed people are often struggle because of the small amount of plastic the machine countains. so they only can produce small items.

We could think a way to have more power to inject more plastic maybe using a while with a couple, like in column drill?  Could add more / bigger heating bands, or a melting plastic réservoir !

Vacum forming machine could be intersting once we manage to get clean plastic sheets also ! 😉

02/06/2018 at 11:55

another thing which should go into the ‘getting started checklist, buying guide’ of the v3/v4 machines: people should be made aware of that most machine builders weld the frame out of tubes together. as result people are unable to get into a car!
it takes a half day for a welded frame but more than a full day to make a frame with tubes which can be disconnected via screwes(up to 20 euro), it changes the material bill by 30 euro in total…

whilst at it, please also warn people that the machines could easily exceed their electricity contract! for instance we build only shredders with at least 3 hp, more preferably 5hp = 4kw. the standard contract in spain is 3.3kw, after that, the meter shuts down.

whilst at it, please really tell people in the same document about the extruder capacity! the machine is already expensive but realizing then that it only extrudes plastic with certain volume limit changes EVERYTHING. they will be unable to produce anything bigger than we see now in the bazar all over the place….

my 2 cents 🙂

03/06/2018 at 18:08

We work in a summercamp in France near the beach, and we would love to have a precious plastic version adapted to a child’s use!
How could we use precious plastic machines with kiddos on holidays?
We already collect bits and bops of plastic with kids, but we would like it to be bigger !
It’s huge, but it’s worth it!

Charlotte and the summercamp team!

05/06/2018 at 19:42

I love this project!!

In many places the pollution is big and plastics exceed the capacity of the shredder

i wanna help to design and try made a better, faster, efficient shredder.

The machines that we made with @plasticoinfinito proces around 10 – 20 kg of plastic for hour, l wanna made one shredder monster that proces 100 kg / hour.

07/06/2018 at 18:43

Hi Dave,

Congrats on winning the aeard! Could you look at improving the design of the shredder to include a dual or Tri axle sysyem. Thinking that it would make shredding easier as the item would be forced down to the blades more than with the current design.

Also, a design for something to add onto the extruder to automatically cut a bead of plastic into small pellets?

08/06/2018 at 11:14

Hi PP Community,

Firstly, a huge congratulations to Dave and everyone on the amazing award win!

My name is Scott, and I am a lecturer in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, from Monash University in Australia. I am supervising a small team of students working to build our own version of the PP machines, but in a novel packaging.

Version 3 was a bit big for us, so we decided to tweak the design of the machines slightly so that they could all fit neatly on a single 1m by 1m pallet, and still allow all of them to be used simultaneously. And also carry tools and raw materials and safety gear. It was quite a challenge but I think we did ok 🙂  We should know in about 6 weeks when the complete unit is due to be finished. Please check out our CAD designs and build progress on our FB page:

We see several benefits to such a compact integration:
– It takes up less space to store (obviously)
– You could manufacture and ship them very economically
– It simplifies the wiring, safety and controls
– You can take the unit out into the community and engage with people everywhere (schools, fairs, expos etc)

This is one idea we would like the community to consider for a potential “Version 4”, and we are more than happy to assist by sharing our designs and/or rework them with everyone’s input.

As a relative new comer to this community (Jan this year), but with many years experience supervising university student project teams (Formula Student) I have a couple of small suggestion for the future of PP that I would like to humbly share.

–  Refine/Redefine the vision for PP as a community
The community appears to be experiencing a huge amount of success, interest and growth, but sustaining that explosion of growth can be a huge challenge. Are we just here to “create tools that make it easier to start recycling plastic”? Or are those tools something that we use to educate people about the plastic problem and fight it from a whole range of angles? It would be good to see the PP community pull back a little from the machines to focus on the bigger picture, and use the community and platform to drive big changes, by finding ways not to use plastic (for instance).

– Consider Decentralising more
The scale of the community must make it very hard to manage. While we will always need and want Dave leading the way it would good to see more regional leadership emerging and being endorsed by the core team, to free them up to lead strategic stuff.

– Prioritise community engagement, rather than machine creation
We are not going to recycle our way out of this plastic problem, and there are limits to what these (amazing) little machines can do. The PP support materials are presently geared towards machine builder/operators, but it would be great to see more support provided for outreach. Changing the way people think about plastic and consume can be done at scale, it just takes a bit of information, some interaction with the machines and teams, and a sample to go away with, and we have done our job. We plan to develop materials on this front so I am volunteering my team to assist on this 🙂

– Connect with more Engineering Universities, and start groups there
Building one of more machines is a very serious technical and financial undertaking for most community groups or individuals, but universities have an unlimited supply of engineering students, often lots of money, great facilities and the space to get up and running quickly. This project ticks so many boxes for the kind of experience we are trying to give students, it is not funny. It also really appeals to female students (who we are desperate to attract to STEM and engineering) in a way that race cars, rockets and bridges often don’t. There are about 600 universities around the world currently building Formula SAE/Student cars, there should be at least half that many with PP groups in the next two years. With their skills and facilities these uni teams are the perfect people to support other local groups in machine building, or just making their own machines available for community use. Here at Monash, we are happy to help push this uni uptake along any way we can.

– Not everyone needs their own Shredder, work around it!
The shredder is clearly the most difficult and expensive part of the PP production line, and from what I can tell, is a serious impediment currently to people getting into PP, but maybe most groups don’t need one. In fact it is probably uneconomical for lots of groups to be building them. We do understand that the capability of recycling your very own plastics is nice, but not at the expense of being able to access the other much simpler and cheaper machines and this whole community.  We found it very easy to source beautiful shredded HDPE and PP in bulk from a major plastics recycling company locally, so surely those opportunities must exist elsewhere in the world? They have serious machines to do this job and not much to do with the output currently.
Which started me thinking, if you don’t need a shredder, just how simple/cheap/small could you make PP?

If we imagined for a second small PP productions units without a shredder (using sources shredded materials), and let’s say without an extruder as well, what would it look like? You get left with the compression oven and the injector. Or what if you picked just one of those? I would take the injector. Now you have got a single machine (dual mains power for faster heating), that would easily fit on a small trolley (including all tooling and moulds and raw materials), that could go just about anywhere and tell the PP story (display screen for videos!) and make samples for people. Once refined, I am guessing any university team could sell these (at a small profit) for less than US$1000. And arrange to supply these customers with raw materials. That would be my other suggestion for Version 4.  Simplify massively, but make it super cheap and accessible.

Sorry for the massive rant, but hope some of those ideas are of interest.

Cheers 🙂


09/06/2018 at 14:34

Have you considered a refit of a campervan? They come in various sizes and are quite cheap secondhand. The machinery would be inside, and can either be fixed in place or stored for travel. A large awning can be attached to the van to create a workspace. Also the roof can have solar panels to help keep the on board batteries charged.
This would be far easier than a double decker bus to get to places, and as the chassis is robust.

09/06/2018 at 16:19

The things I would like to see:

Register as a charity!
– If we can find a way to start this even if it’s one country at a time, we could apply for funding from various sources.
– I think the best way is education. so if we can set up work shops to teach children/teens/adults so that they become more aware of the possibilities and maybe learn new skills to help teens and adults get jobs in production.
– so the whole moving workshop idea is brilliant, maybe some instructions on how to refit a van/bus/campervan.

– currently there is a huge lack of protection on the machines, moving parts can cause fatal injuries. as well as burns from hot machine parts, and melted plastic.
– simple shielding needs to be designed to protect the users. as well as advice on things the users can do to remain safe when operating. I not suggest we go crazy about it, a fact sheet of safety and good working practices would be really good.

I think we need a design that doesn’t need to be welded, not everyone has the skill required to do it or the access to the tools. A design that can be bolted together could reduce costs and make it accessible to more people.

one more thing; running workshops to raise money to set up people in developing countries. Experience days are a big thing in the UK, don’t know about other countries.

14/06/2018 at 14:46

I’m wondering since months about why v3 is not being cleaned up yet, and first!

1. why are the machines still exposing those dream scrap yard numbers ? There are enough realistic numbers here in the forum about those machines! The numbers exposed in the downloadable kits are around 1/4 – 1/5 only of the numbers in reality ! The owner of the project argues that the more work you put in, the more cheaper it gets. This is a blatant lie. Most crucial machines require non DIY components like motors, reducers, couplers, extrusion screw…. The only real DIY things you can do with this machines are the frames and hopper.

2. Why is this ridiculous wood drill being still in part list of the extruder. Everybody will figure out sooner or later it’s complete waste of time, money and other precious resources like redoing the whole thing with new metal mounts.3. Why does the website still suggest that people can do filament with those machines? It has been numerous stated that the filament is useless. It requires way more machinery and time to make filaments.

4. Why are the power consumption numbers are not exposed clearly on the machine main pages ? People should know right away what footprint/pollution is involved!
5. Why there is no warning about the blades, there are enough facts which emerged pointing out quite some problems!? The warnings should point out wear, it’s a matter of time the whole shredder box has to be re-done and right.

6. Why there are no warnings about the weak motors problems of the shredder, leading to jamming,… ?

7. Why is there no warning about the massive work times involved (4-8 weeks full time,…)? It has been stated in a video but that’s not enough!8. There are no facts about the shredding and extrusion capacities in the kit ?


14/06/2018 at 17:17

technically, if @davehakkens would finally take some responsibility and act honest and also stops treating us as his own personal design and pet project, the v3 machinery has to be taken offline as it’s done also in the industry: for instance when a car causes more damage than use, the company calls it back, no  matter the price! and seriously, don’t come up with goovy excuses like : ‘ it’s platform ‘ or ‘it’s a movement’. i can tell you what it is: it’s a serious disaster, nothing more, especially when looking at outcome of the machines, period.

15/06/2018 at 19:12

I think the V4 should focus on a machine that can be placed on field so any pedestrian can walk towards it with a handful of plastic and by inserting the plastic, the machine will shred, and create an object like a medal or a bracelet as a reward. That can make ANYONE get involved into recycling and creating valuable objects from “garbage”

15/06/2018 at 20:38


IDK if you are planning to process PET but it would be a interesting development in your extrusion machine, When I heard about this project i started to imagine what would happen if we can upcycle all of that bottles that we can find everywhere. I did my research why we cant heat the PET and produce again something precious, and basicaly we need to redesgin the screw to create a descompresion chamber in the middle so then we can encrease the preasure again avoiding thermal-oxidation and hydrolisis created by the water that could absorbe the PET, or another alternative that could happen is introduce a new a machine to dry and clean the PET before the usage into precios plastic Machines, But It would be nice to speak it with a Chemical engineer too.

I would love to help in the process
So feel free to contact me

15/06/2018 at 22:02

This home-made hydralic press (image down below) I found in abadoned car service could not only serve for compression, but for whole workshop. I would like to make the injection machine into a tool that you put inside, achiveing higher pressure with less effort.
Talleresferica already tried to build similar machine:

16/06/2018 at 13:12

@unratonloco, I’m machine builder, with clients intending the recycle bottles, could you please open a dedicated forum topic on the subject ‘extrusion screw design for PET/plastic bottles’ ? thanks!

21/06/2018 at 12:26

Hi! May be it’s not a new idea, but – what about to make something like LEGO bricks or whatever can be assembled and constructed to anything universal and big? Like walls, fences, roof shingles etc.?

23/06/2018 at 18:28

we just got our station reliable up and running and so we started collecting plastic and went to our next trash collection point. they have thousands of HDPE large bottles. we took them home and cut them in pieces (tedious work), we realized there are quite lot of weird substance in there. so please make a big fat WARNING:

– consider to use sufficient body protection (100%) when collecting and washing industrial HDPE bottles
– consider having a dedicated room for washing the plastic, there might be poisonous substances in the waste
– consider good equipment when washing plastic
– consider you’re now also creating industrial chemistry waste which needs to go back to proper waste stations
– consider to use 100% safe breathing protection
– consider to get a large band-saw to cut these plastic bottles more efficiently
(DIY: variants could be around 50 – 200 euro )
– consider a proper ventilation system not only for the washing and cutting part, but also when heating it inside extrusion or injection barrel

please make it bold and clear: industrial waste requires big and proper equipped rooms to be recycled, we are talking here about 500-3000 euro extra equipment, mentioned nowhere. i have no idea what these substances are, but i know they could be extreme dangerous. i had to abort the entire task today because of missing equipment !

23/06/2018 at 18:37

another thing i just realized when thinking about the kind of users we have here, and also the kind of environments people are using the machines:

– please do check that the frame of any of the PP machines is wired to the earth ground! If not, please do so. there can be deadly consequences under some circumstances
– please do check for proper grounding of your control-panel, it has to be connected to earth ground too !!

28/06/2018 at 16:27

Something to create thin sheets of plastic! Also a good cleaning/drying technique

29/06/2018 at 06:15

Hello!, first of all I have to say that I love you, it is amazing to find people like you, with this vission you changed my life for good!, thanks for that!

I want to work in the recollection and classification of waste in order to recycle  and work with plastic, but also to help other recycling processes as well.

Im begginning with the shreder, and feel very enthusiastic about all that communnity and life style you created for us.

I hope to be usefull, I will share all my process in the future.

Chao amigos!

02/07/2018 at 12:49

Nice to see a lot of ideas and it is also nice that there are only a few critics (mostly people who haven’t done anything themselves, as per usual, i guess).
I think machines are cheap enough, a person wanting to start a small business can mostly scrape together $600-$700 for 2 machines (not scrap-yard prices some geniuses have been complaining about), rather than reducing entry barrier it would be great to see some new equipment.
– instead of trying to make filament out of quite “difficult” materials it would be interesting to see pellet extruder (there are already a couple of versions flying around), using larger nozzle diameter, for recycled plastic that may be just the ticket.
– some research to process PET, perhaps trying to extrude (press) it into bars?
– sheet press (already mentioned)
– hydraulic powered injection for larger parts (already mentioned)
– washing machine using solar concentrators (this should be simple enough)
– solar thermal for other processes (i can’t see why a workshop can’t do most of the forming work on sunny days, saving a lot on electricity and not worrying about energy efficiency). Building blocks from plastic may then be a viable initiative.

05/07/2018 at 09:42

What about a Mooc, you have plenty of videos and info, look at Barbara Oakley’s Moocs? Then it would be something that is more widely spread, as I came across Precious Plastic through Youtube. An open course for everyone discussing the types of plastics and how they can be processed, even the real nasty ones are being turned into roof tiles in many countries now for example. It is the future of education with millions of students and Unis in the Netherlands are already doing them?

05/07/2018 at 15:09

I agree with all the suggestions made by @unity. The machines are small scale so each community needs their own machines, but we don’t each want to reinvent the wheel when it comes to moulds etc. Is there a database where mould plans can be uploaded, stored, searched and downloaded? That would be a great addition to V4.

25/07/2018 at 18:52

1- Adding interlock between the heat and the motor movement.
2- Identify the heat element capacity ( mix requirement )
3- design another way to reduce or avoid the alignment adjustment effort.

1- Totally change the design and add a small water cycle for cooling the mold.

1- needed a bigger design.
2- Add auto reverse when Jam

26/07/2018 at 22:55

My two pennies worth!

Version 3 was a great idea to have a whole workshop/manufacturing centre in a container.  Containers are “affordable” as a start-up venue for a small community business anywhere in the world 🙂 Yes, I know affordable means different things to different people!

So as I think someone else said, we have to look at why there aren’t more people starting a PP project.  For me, on an island that was destroyed by a hurricane last year, there are these factors:

In order to start actually to re-use plastic waste, you need a number of boxes ticked:

1. There needs to be a steady stream of incoming (waste) materials – this should not be too difficult where you have a big enough community nearby and where you could place collection bins and publicise your new project… not too hard on a small island you would think, except that the government has already appointed a firm to “recycle” the garbage and minimise island landfill – I would be working against this company…  In fact, all it does is collect the waste and ship it elsewhere, but I need to understand how they would feel about us taking away a part of their income!

2. There needs to be a minimum number of machines to process the waste – at a minimum: a way of sorting (this might be achievable at collection points), a washer/drier, a shredder and at least one tooling machine… and somewhere sheltered to store and use them, and an energy source.  For those without a piece of land to use, this needs to be rented and access to electricity is not always as easy as it might sound!

Getting parts machined is not financially do-able.  It has to be outsourced to the US or elsewhere, and after shipping, you may well spend the same money buying a second hand commercial shredder…

There IS a cost attached to renting property and setting up the minimum machines.

3. There needs to be at least one product to be made with the waste, that people will want to buy.  Without a viable product (range) there is not much to be gained by producing clean shredded plastic – it’s not a valuable $ enough commodity to ship it off island.  So there has to be a channel for it.

In fact, this is one of the biggest challenges for commercial waste recyclers – most manufacturers choose to buy virgin plastics in favour of recycled ones!  They worry that their machines/production will be affected if they change supply materials.  If we can change this mindset with manufacturers then it will be of benefit.

4. A clearly defined range of products that are needed on a global scale, and which can be made from recycled plastic – food containers are out – will mean common mould and manufacturing methods, and if they truly are needed then the shipping costs won’t be part of the equation, they will sell locally.

As someone else said, food, clothing and shelter are the basic proponents of life.  Even on a hurricane damaged island where people have no spare cash for luxuries, building materials are needed.  Sheet roofing was one of the worst trash products of the hurricane; that and wooden beams – think roofing tiles (that won’t blow off and plastic beams and boards).  Furniture is also always needed (see the retyrement project).
If we can develop these into great (not good but great) products then I think we’ll be cooking!

5. There is a cost attached to starting up – perhaps it would be a good idea to set up a PP loan scheme to help people get the projects off the ground?  This should be enough to cover the set-up of the minimum machines in any given area (once the final production machine(s) has been defined) and should be repaid with initial earnings from the sale of products.

6.  Publicity and awareness will come, once we have some great products to bring to market and people ask where they’re coming from…

7.  I also feel there are existing funding streams to be tapped in the European Union for projects like this.  An EU funding expert could look into this further to see whether collaboration to draw down EU funding could be a way to go.  This could fund the loan scheme and/or set up more pilot projects.

You have made a wonderful start Dave; I admire you enormously and I hope I can, at some point soon, help you drive this forward.


07/08/2018 at 10:26

Is it possible to use same motor for both shredder and excrusion machine in a series and adding a coupling between the shaft ?

13/08/2018 at 12:16

@jacob64. In the list of parameterization. You will be able to choose 6 or 4 sides for the main shaft!

14/08/2018 at 09:06

Hi, i want to share in this topic, my idea about One Modular Machine that can be used in small workspace or for workshop.
Bye, Giuseppe 🙂

19/08/2018 at 01:23

hi just adding few snaps of the industrial blade grinder. we called it 12 inch blade shredder. this machine can shred up-to 1000kgs to 1500 kgs of PET/ PP/ HDPE plastic in few hours time. this runs on 5 hp motor and three phase power. then the blades need to be sharpen again to make it going. we can make this for huge quantity by increasing the size of the shredder blade its size and its capacity .

20/10/2018 at 10:50

Hi team have you looked into a plastic welder. I have seen a lot of plastic thrown out that could have been fixed. It could also be a good tool for joining panels to create bigger works.

21/11/2018 at 14:30

Hi first post here. I probably need to introduce myself somewhere sorry if I don’t maybe later.


How about this: combine an extruder with a 3d printer omitting the need of filament

Apparently making usable filament is a big problem because of the tolerances.


I think it could be a bit less complicated.


Just a thought I hope this will be of some use

Keep up the good work


Cheers Jeroen

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