University of Cambridge

PolyPack – University of Cambridge, Student Design Project



PolyPack is our innovative solution to creating beautiful, sturdy and environmentally sustainable packaging. The packaging consists of a soft fibrous interior transitioning to a hard plastic shell to provide twofold protection.

PolyPack currently uses shredded PET – sourced from plastic bottles – as a raw material with which to create this pioneering packaging product but could potentially use other plastics. With further research it may even be possible to recycle different plastics simultaneously: a feat that is currently unattainable with conventional plastic recycling methods. Our design offers a unique, low-energy solution to the issues of plastic recycling and packaging waste by turning waste material into something both practical and beautiful.

Our method involves two processes to transform shredded PET to fibres to packaging. The initial process – inspired by candy floss machines – heats a spinning bowl and softens the shredded plastic to be forced through a row of holes. This creates fibres that offer impact resistance and thermal insulation. The secondary process involves filling a heated mould with the candyfloss like material. With careful control of process parameters a hard outer shell is produced with an optimum thickness to balance the requirements of structural rigidity and finish against those of efficient material use and interior cushioning. Through intelligent mould design, PolyPack can also integrate patterns and branding on the outer surface of the packaging to allow a company to produce bespoke and distinctive packaging in-house as part of its manufacturing process.

PolyPack will allow manufacturers and distributors to set themselves apart with original and environmentally conscious packaging.

Team: Cameron Hardman, Laura Tuck, James Veale.

More information: http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/education/met/a/design/design-show-2016/

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