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working with PLASTIC BAGS

This topic contains 31 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Sergio Marcano 3 weeks ago.

Björn Steinar Blumenstein bjornsteinar

working with PLASTIC BAGS

22/06/2017 at 09:31

It´s a known fact that plastic bags can be ironed and reused some purposes, but an awful lot of the objects produced with this method look a bit sloppy compared to products on the market. So in this post I trace the steps of how I try to find an easy way of producing nice looking materials (similar to http://www.riceandcarry.com) and objects using minimal tools that are
available or easily accessible (basically just an iron, baking paper, piece of wood and textile).

My aim is to find a technique so simple that it can be applied to any type of plastic bag, regardless of different plastic. After a few failed experiments (too cold iron or too hot) the same temperature was used for all experiments to simplify the procedure. The temperature used for all the experiments is set on cotton on the iron (around 205 celsius).

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starter
22/06/2017 at 09:39

Ironed plastic

First experiments proved to work all right, the bags shrank and got stronger but when joining different pieces of plastic bags the outcome was not as I wished.

Material: Single sheet of plastic bags.
Method: Ironed on both sides with baking paper.
Up-side: Plastic fuses well together.
Down-side: Shrinkage is unpredictable and surface rough.

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starter
22/06/2017 at 09:51

Ironed plastic + shredder

The next step was trying to find ways of joining pieces smoothly together to make a larger surface (did not work smoothly). I fused together a few layers of plastic bags and shredded it in a paper shredder to get thick strips that I later ironed back together.

Material: Layered plastic bags.
Method: Ironed on both sides with baking paper. Folded together and ironed again to get a thick
material. Cut down to small pieces and ironed together.
Up-side: Thick and sturdy material.
Down-side: Difficult to arrange pieces to prevent holes, varies a lot in thickness and surface is rough.

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starter
22/06/2017 at 09:58

Ironed + pressed

To gain better control over the material I started pre-ironing each piece before I even though about fusing it together with an other piece of plastic. This way the plastic is straight so it´s easier to arrange it on the baking paper and the shrinkage of the material is controlled.

Material: Pre-ironed plastic bags.
Method: One layer fused together at a time, both sides, and pressed with a wooden board in-between (about 5 sec). Keep on until desired thickness is
reached.
Up-side: Texture smoother than when it was not pressed in-between.
Down-side: Visible “seams” where different pieces are fused together. Also needs to work on colour gradient or composition of colours.

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starter
22/06/2017 at 10:06

Material bank

I was getting a bit tired of the multi step procedure before every material experiment so this is an attempt to simplify my working process. I cut the plastic bags, iron each single sheet on both sides and put it in my plastic bank so it´s ready to be used later. This could be a nice idea to constantly arrange plastic bags and then use when there is enough material in the bank (not going to be a problem).

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starter
22/06/2017 at 10:26

After various experiments (most of them shown in this topic) I have narrowed down to a technique that I feel transforms simple plastic bags into something that can give rise to it´s value. The thickness I prefer is ranging from 4 layers to 8 layers of pre-ironed plastic sheets (easy to try). The material looks and feels nicer (in my opinion) than all the other experiments I have made. I believe there is potential in making objects (2-d, 2,5-D and 3-D) from this material, but what could the objects be? any ideas??

Material: Pre-ironed plastic bags.
Method: Plastic bags fused together until desired thickness is reached. After the last round of ironing put textile with a texture on both sides and iron again on both sides.
Up-side: Stamps the texture of the textile into the plastic, makes the material look more valuable and also hides the seams between fused pieces that makes it easier to make a big piece without showing that it´s many small pieces fused together.
Down-side: Requires a textile that does not give off small fibres (not a big problem).

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dedicated
22/06/2017 at 11:09

Hello @bjornsteinar,

You’ve done quite a lot of work already, looks great.

Check here for a similar topic

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starter
22/06/2017 at 11:21

hi @jegor-m !

thanks for reminding me! this time I´m trying to work with the bags without using any of the machines we have built just to see and showcase what can be done super easily anywhere in the world 🙂

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starter
30/06/2017 at 16:10

Sheet to object

First experiments of making objects from the plastic sheets.

Material: Pre-ironed plastic bags.
Method: Plastic bags fused together until desired thickness is reached. After the last round of ironing put textile with a texture on both sides and iron again on both sides. Then ironed around a 3-d object (a bottle)
Up-side: nice to see plastic sheets move from 2-D to 3-D (or 2.5-D).
Down-side: Rough fusing edge where the sheet is fastened together.

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starter
30/06/2017 at 16:26

Sheet to object 2

As a tryout I made a foldable pencil holder, basically to check how well the methods, and since it can be done quite easily then there are countless possibilities when it comes to usage of the simple method.

Material: Pre-ironed plastic bags.
Method: Plastic bags fused together until desired thickness is reached. After the last round of ironing put textile with a texture on both sides and iron again on both sides. Then cut after a pattern and break the edges like origami.
Up-side: nice to see plastic sheets move from 2-D to 3-D (or 2.5-D).
Down-side: The tip that hold the pencil holder together is rather cheap looking.

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starter
03/07/2017 at 09:12

Sheet to object 3.

The backpack in the following pictures I made to try out how well the methods above would work on a bigger scale. Turns out it´s not that much more difficult but of course multiple sheets of baking paper are needed. In the previous experiments I have fused a small surface and pressed, but on a bigger scale it proves more difficult to keep an even temperature on all parts of the sheet, so It took few ironings to get each side good.

Material: Pre-ironed plastic bags, thread and a clip.
Method: Plastic bags fused together until desired thickness is reached. After the last round of ironing put textile with a texture on both sides and iron again on both sides. Then cut after a pattern and hand stitched together. Turn the backpack around so the stitches end up on the inside and stitch handles and clip in place.
Up-side: The sheets come together nicely to make a fairly large object.
Down-side: A lot of things in the making of the backpack can be worked on further, starting with that it would be stronger and better looking to use a sewing machine, also the pattern making. It´s a time consuming process to make the bag but could be improved very much on a production level.

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dedicated
05/07/2017 at 17:13

Wow @bjornsteinar, nice work you have done here!

I transformed som LDPE-Bags and a strip of PET into a Birthday-present-wrapping! Although it is a bit rough, I really like it!

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helper
07/07/2017 at 16:01

@bjornsteinar nice research work and good products!
The last weeks we also tested the possibilties of plastic bags.
And that’s one of the best products we made:) still some adjustments to do, but it already worked quite nice. just the belts are sewn on the backbag.

greetings
carl

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starter
08/07/2017 at 14:32

Hey @flo-2 & @carlf ! Good job guys, looking sharp! hope I get to see more stuff from you guys!
I have a detailed tutorial in the pipeline but until then I´ll post occasional experiments 🙂

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starter
08/07/2017 at 14:38

Cut-offs

To be able to control the colours of the plastic sheets I prepare for objects I cut off logos, bar codes, etc of the bags. I do it to be able to create object that look less DIY-ish and to make the objects look nicer. I collect the cut-offs and want to be able to use those for making strong solid objects with simple tools.

Material: Plastic bags (cut-offs)

Method: Plastic pieces ironed into a thin solid mass (around 4-5 layers of plastic) and cut into small pieces. Then heat gun is used to fuse it together and the material pressed into a thick solid mass, up to 1,5 cm thick. After that the plastic works like any other building material and can be worked with using basic tools.
Up-side: 
A good way to use scraps, easy to work with.
Down-side: Texture is a bit rough after using a saw.

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dedicated
26/07/2017 at 21:20

Looking great!

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dedicated
29/07/2017 at 09:31

Using LDPE-Bags like fabric
After cutting all my LDPE-Bags into pieces I can use I started thinking about what to make out of it. As I’m not the most creative guy on this planet, I started off making a LDPE-Bag out of LDPE-Bags 😀 Pretty strong but pretty useless 😀 (first picture)

Next I experimented with smaller pieces ironed onto a larger base, where the base was just for solidification and the small pieces for the optical part. (second picture) I also put texture into it, however it is so small, you can bearly see (third picture)

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dedicated
29/07/2017 at 09:35

Then I found instructions for a small Ladies handbag and tried to make it out of LDPE. I used the sewing machine and was surprised how well it worked! The result isn’t too bad in my opinion, although it is not finished (and never will be). Next time I should use less different colors I think, because it looks a bit kindergarden-like in my opinion 😉

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dedicated
29/07/2017 at 09:42

Making thicker objects out of LDPE-Bags

Inspired by @bjornsteinar I took my cut-offs and cut them even smaller, again mixing all the colors together and ironed them, folded, ironed again, folded, ironed and pressed to be as flat as possible. I then cut it and i think it looks even cooler on the inside. (Not polished yet)

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dedicated
29/07/2017 at 09:48

I then wanted to get some texture into a LDPE-Block, so I made another one. Sadly I used cotton and now half of the cotton is on the plastic D: However some parts still look nice! 🙂

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helper
30/07/2017 at 18:59

great work! thank you for your sharing @bjornsteinar and @flo-2
such an motivation to start making experiments with plastic bags.
i was thinking that maybe if some textile (don’t know which one yet) is ironed between plastic sheets this could give another resistance or property.
a great example could be the tyvek wallets. they are really resistant to rip, waterproof, and really slim.
i attach a photo if someaone don’t know about them.

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starter
11/09/2017 at 23:03

@bjornsteinar, It’s beautiful! What kind of plasticbags do you use? LPDE OR HPDE?

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helper
13/09/2017 at 20:02

Great topic, this one. @bjornsteinar, do you know about https://www.gafreh.org/? They make really good looking bags (https://www.gafreh.org/en/nos-creations) where you can hardly tell they used to be these little annoying black plastic bags you get with everything you buy in e.g. Burkina Faso. It might be worth it to contact them and learn how they work, what techniques they use etc. Two remarks though: I know it’s very labour intensive, and from what I’ve heard, they are not very keen on sharing their expertise (for free). Oh, and probably only in French… But nevertheless, could be interesting to reach out to them?

I’ve visited them last year. If you’re interested, I can tell you what I know about the project, which is limited but I guess the most important basic stuff 🙂

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starter
18/09/2017 at 15:23

Hey @tinch! I´ve been using a textile with a rough texture while fusing the plastic bags, it gives the bags a smoother surface and also leaves a nice imprint of the textile! I do this after I have pre-ironed the sheets and also fused them together like I did in the previous post!
Hope we get to see some stuff you are trying!

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18/09/2017 at 15:30

hey @a-minnaard!
my experiments were always aimed at making a method that work for all kinds of plastic bag.
I try to keep HDPE and LDPE bags separated, but the same temperature and methods work for both!

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starter
18/09/2017 at 15:35

wow @faro360 , that´s some impressive stuff! if you know anything about how to make this kind of stuff please don´t hesitate to post it here in the forums!
(although I focused on how to use a lo-fi method – just using an iron – to producing something from the bags).

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helper
19/09/2017 at 17:08

@bjornsteinar It’s super nice.
In Shanghai everyday people received tones of product delivered in HDPE plastic bags, I’m doing some test using your technic, it’s pretty easy.

I used the plastic as if it was leather and made a simple wallet in few hours. It’s not ready for production yet but I’ll keep on exploring and share more photos later.
Thanks!

Adele

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helper
04/10/2017 at 15:27

@bjornsteinar, this is an image about how Gafreh works. As you can see, it’s all very low-tech 🙂 Mostly manual labor.

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starter
18/10/2017 at 17:51

Hi guys,
In India, where I am based in, there are a lot of plastic bags used. Especially of low quality and less than 50 microns. I have heard that the bags below 50 microns cannot be recycled. Any ideas on what can be done so that they can be reused?

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helper
20/10/2017 at 09:39

try to comunicate with @riceandcarry they know alot about this question in india

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helper
26/10/2017 at 05:56

@bjornsteinar, Thanks for the promo in your headline! 🙂
HI all, below you can see the set up that did the trick for us. First pick is a textile industry heat press. They are available online for reasonable amounts of money. Cheapest ones probably compare to a fancy iron. It’s ideal to make sheets, you can set time and temperature and compresses evenly so the results are super stable.
We use teflon paper, which is practically baking paper on steriods.
It’s important to cool down the sheets under pressure so it does not wrinkle and morph.
The second photo shows our high end set up for that. so once the machine makes peep peep we take out the sheets with teflon paper on both sides and place it under that wooden board. Then we roll that wooden box thing with the bricks onto it. Well worth investing into wheels or back pain will be just around the corner. We pile up 10 or so sheets under the board. It will cool pretty quickly and the sheet will be relative neat looking. Easy as pie really.
@svk95, doesn’t matter how many microns the bags have. The thicker the less you have to pile up and press into a sheet. Depends on how flexible you want your material.

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