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Zero Waste Future Brought By 3D Printing

Jun 13, 2020

The New Raw is a studio in Rotterdam dedicated to materials research, digital design and manufacturing. It was co-founded by Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki in 2015.  The founder believes that plastic is a failed design. Although the original intention of its design is to last forever, we often throw it away after use. Starting from improving the life cycle and production chain of plastic products, The New Raw uses 3D printing technology to convert waste waste into products with both functional and aesthetic values, and conducts interdisciplinary research and cooperation through projects to establish an environmentally friendly industry The system seeks a better way to apply the concept of circular economy to promote technological innovation and social progress.


The New Raw product manufacturing process first classifies plastic types and colors, then cleans, crushes, and processes them into 4-7 mm plastic sheets, which are melted and mixed with pigments to make printable materials.

The first result of the "Print City" purpose is "XXXBench" for the Amsterdam government. "XXXBench" is an experimental project whose main purpose is to test whether urban waste can be used as a raw material for 3D printing. The New Raw proposed to break the "production-use-landfill" linear use process of plastic products and enter the field of sustainable recycling. "XXXBench" also responded to their appeal in form, and the double-sided streamlined design allows 2 to 4 people to shake it by balancing each other. "XXXBench" weighs about 50 kilograms, is about 150 centimeters long, and is about 80 centimeters wide. The production cost of one piece is about the plastic waste produced by two citizens of Amsterdam in a year. "XXXBench" proves the hardware possibility and technical potential of plastic waste conversion through 3D printing technology.


The success of the "Print City" project has attracted the attention of Coca-Cola Greece. The two parties cooperated to help the Greek city of Thessaloniki create a zero-waste city, which is part of the Coca-Cola company's "zero-waste future" project. Citizens discarded plastic waste in all the blue trash bins in the city to contribute to the project. They can also bring plastic to zero-waste laboratories, visit the recycling process up close, and design and customize exclusive city "furniture".

The first phase of "Print City" in Thessaloniki has been completed. The studio has designed a series of composite furniture that combines benches and potted plants, and is located in Nea Paralia, the city's seaside area. . Each product consumes an average of about 100 kilograms of plastic waste and requires 12 hours to print. On this basis, the designers decided to improve the material quality and optimize the design plan to save production time.


The second stage invites citizens to participate in the design process through the official website of the "Print City" project, shaping unique product designs and uses, and personally choosing the resettlement area of urban public facilities.

Since its launch in December 2018, more than 3,000 different designs have been submitted. Citizens are free to choose "straight", "curved", "organic" and "triangular" bench designs, and have assembled pots, bookshelves, dog pots, vaults, bicycle seats, etc. according to their own and community needs Multi-functional urban public seat design. Through the website, the first area chosen to house urban furniture was Hans Park in the center of Thessaloniki. A total of 800 kg of plastic waste was recovered throughout the project, and 10 pieces of 3D printed furniture with different functions were made.


3D printing technology reduces the material loss in the production process, but the iteration speed of 3D printing products is too fast, resulting in a lot of waste. The New Raw advocates the use of the characteristics of plastic materials to design and produce public facilities to manufacture larger and less easily discarded products, and each piece is 100% recyclable, breaking the short life cycle of plastic products. If we regard plastics as a material rather than a finished item form, then we can convert the durability of its materials, which can be said to be not easily degradable, into advantages. Through recycling and technological progress, plastics are always in the process of flowing from this form to another form in the long life cycle.

Should designers pay attention to the recycling of old materials or the development of new materials in order to improve the utilization rate of plastics or simply replace plastic products? This is still an issue worth discussing. The "printing city" project has broadened the possibility of applying new technologies in the field of circular economy through 3D printing technology and resource recovery. The establishment of a zero-waste laboratory has reduced the distance between urban residents and technology and design, and is of great significance for promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle and enhancing citizens' environmental awareness.