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    2 to 3

    by Edgar Mejia 07/03/2019 06:12 PM BST

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          IDEA 1.61 has a combined objective: To promote technological advancement in developing countries while providing an economically feasible solution to the problem of single-use plastic waste. The original concept of IDEA 1.61 started in 2014 while Edgar, a co-founder of the company, was working as a volunteer at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago. The city of Chicago designated a space in the public library for people to learn about and utilize a maker space. They had several computers, 3D printers, and laser cutters for the general public to use. Edgar trained people to use the printers and translated all the educational material into Spanish. During that year of volunteering, he met many people who were interested in this technology. However, one person in specific struck him the most, a homeless man who would come regularly. After Edgar taught him to make his own designs on the computer, the man would create earrings and other jewelry to sell on the street. IDEA 1.61 is founded in two main learnings from this story: anyone can utilize this type of technology to better themselves and it is possible to stablish programs that can have a real impact on people’s lives and the environment.

          IDEA 1.61 helps people from Mexico to develop a project idea into a final product. Everything starts by sharing our knowledge and providing free workshops covering different topics, such as 3D design, additive manufacturing, electronics, and programing. For the people who are not ready to get their hands dirty, we also provide free computer 3D models ready to be printed and comprehensive project consultations. Once the project idea is ready to come alive, the cost of fabrication is very low and mostly to cover production cost. We are able to provide a major cost reduction by upcycling plastic waste into filament for 3D printing. The main difference between recycling and upcycling is on the outcome of the processing. While recycling focuses on obtaining the same product with similar properties, upcycling creates a product of higher value. Giving a second life to plastic waste allows to meet the necessities of customers, while reducing the generation of new oil-based plastics.

          The project “2 to 3” has the objective of providing a second life to plastic waste, to produce a 3D printed item. We have been successful to recycle polylactic acid (PLA), one of the most common materials used for 3D printing. We are currently working with high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the second most used plastic in the world. Due to its outstanding impermeability and strength, this material can be found in every household from shopping bags to milk jars. However, HDPE can be difficult to process due to its high viscosity and tendency to shrink. The 2 to 3 project has been tackling all the technical challenges involved in converting plastic bottles and bags made from HDPE into filament for 3D printing. The process starts by separating this specific type of plastic through floatation density. After an intensive cleaning process, the plastic bottles are shredded for further cleaning and drying. It is very important to remove the water absorbed by the plastic for further processing. Extrusion molding is utilized to obtain a uniform filament of 1.75 mm with a small standard deviation. This filament is wound into spools, which can later be used for 3D printing. The price of a 1kg spool can be reduced by 40% compared with the present market.

          The status of 2 to 3 project is at technology readiness level 5. Mechanical and degradation characterization has been carried at UAE University, as part of a research project, and a scientific article is on the process of being published. The mechanical characterization was performed through Uniaxial Tensile Testing looking at the modulus of elasticity, resistance to deformation, and yield stress. The degradation characterization was carried using Infrared Spectroscopy and compared with the virgin material. The preliminary results show that by optimizing the parameters of the processing, the degradation of the polymer can be reduced; therefore, maintaining its mechanical and chemical properties. Furthermore, successful extrusion has been performed to fabricate filament that can be used for 3D printing. Finally, we are optimizing the parameters for 3D printing. The main challenge to overcome is the adhesion of the material into the surfactant. This is expected to be solved by implementing a hot bed and possible include additives to make the polymer stick to the printing bed. IDEA 1.61 provides the perfect platform to easily implement the final product for 3D printing.

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          The team is composed of 3 members: Edgar Mejia (USA), Fahed Albreiki (UAE), and Pablo Vivar (Mexico).

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