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Brief Published: 20 Apr 2020

Recycled Plastic Becomes Personal Protective Equipment

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Recycled Plastic Becomes PPE via Precious Plastics initiative

A global community of designers who share access to an open-source recycling initiative are transforming plastic waste into much-needed healthcare items. Face shields, respirator masks and hands-free door handles are among the designs being 3D-printed to fight against Covid-19.

The Precious Plastic project, from Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, instigates networks worldwide to help address the plastic waste problem. Users can download blueprints for different machines, which shred and remould plastic, as well as access knowledge and how-to guides to produce new products.

In response to the pandemic, numerous groups have been using their machines to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for their local areas. Instructions and downloadable files are being shared so others can benefit from the designs.

Greek workshop Alumoulds is producing ‘hands-free’ door openers – see 3D-Printed Add-Ons Create No-Touch Door Handles for a similar solution. To help alleviate shortages in local hospitals, Precious Plastic Gran Canaria is collaborating with local makers to design and produce ICU respirator masks.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Plàstic Preciós La Safor, Germany’s Kunststoffschmiede and Austria’s Plasticpreneur have all developed face visors for workers and volunteers in European hospitals. Read about other quick-response 3D-printed PPE efforts here.

Hygiene is, of course, of upmost importance, and all workshops are following strict guidelines to maintain cleanliness and avoid contamination. The plastic recycling process involves heat of over 200°C, which sterilises the material; while the non-porous injected plastic ensures bacteria and viruses cannot manifest within the 3D-printed elements.

The Precious Plastic site also states that machines can be used with virgin plastics during these unprecedented times, to ensure hygiene standards are met. See Resetting Plastics: Updates & Innovations for more on the link between plastic and health.

This is an excellent example of how creative communities and open-source generosity can harness quick and innovative design solutions. For more pioneering responses to Covid-19, see our Coronavirus: Daily Updates & Brand Responses page.

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