Print Your City Initiative is 3D Printing Furniture Out of Plastic Waste for Public Spaces in Greece

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Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki in the Zero Waste Lab

At this very minute, I am eating a salad I made for lunch, which is inside a plastic dish that used to hold Chinese food. My husband and I often reuse takeout containers in this way (perhaps we eat out too much?), and eventually, once we have too many or a container or its lid breaks, we put it in the recycling bin and go on our merry way. While this is definitely better than simply tossing the container right away and not even bothering to recycle it, many people around the world are taking part in far greater plastic recycling initiatives that use 3D printing in one form or another.

In the fall of 2017, we told you about an initiative started by Rotterdam-based research and design studio The New Raw that turned plastic waste into 3D printed furniture for public, outdoor spaces. The project has since grown from concept to city scale after last year’s 3D printed XXX bench prototype, and now the second phase of the initiative, called Print Your City, has just launched its first Zero Waste Lab in the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

The studio works to push the boundaries of technological and social innovation, and focuses on strengthening local production and closing material cycles with its open and scale-less approach based on digital design and fabrication and material research.

The New Raw collaborates with a variety of organizations and institutions, such as the Technical University of Delft, the AMS Institute, Hong Kong Design Institute, the City of Amsterdam, and Coca-Cola Greece, which is responsible for conceiving of and implementing the new Zero Waste Lab in collaboration with Ogilvy Greece, the Municipality of Thessaloniki, and Ecorec.

“Plastic has a design failure. It is designed to last forever, but often we use it once and then throw it away,” stated The New Raw co-founders Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki. “With Print Your City, we endeavour to show a better way of using plastic in long lasting and high value applications.”

Print Your City’s new Zero Waste Lab comes with a robotic 3D printing arm and plastic recycling facilities, and was developed within the framework of Coca-Cola Greece’s Zero Waste Cities initiative, which stated:

“The program takes place for the first time on a pan-European level and aspires to make Thessaloniki the first city in Greece with the prospect to become Zero Waste.”

The New Raw’s Print Your City is just one of multiple initiatives under Zero Waste Cities, and will help enable Greek citizens to change their behavior when it comes to recycling plastic waste. The studio proved two years ago that it’s possible to use plastic household waste to 3D print street furniture, and now the people of Thessaloniki will have the chance to redesign their public spaces using 3D printing.

With Print Your City, citizens can get involved by bringing their household plastic waste to the new lab and staying to learn about the recycling process and the circular economy. They can also submit designs for new, custom furniture 3D printed from the plastic to be placed in their neighborhoods, as the lab works to close the plastic waste loop at the local level by using advanced technologies.

Since the Print Your City website launched, people have submitted over 3,000 designs for 3D printable urban furniture, the initial prototypes of which were 3D printed this summer and placed in Nea Paralia, the city’s main waterfront promenade.

The New Raw is aiming to recycle a total of four tons of plastic waste over the duration of the Print Your City Project, which will equal about the same amount that is produced by 14 family households in Greece.

People have the option to personally shape their own unique designs, such as choosing the color, shape, and specific integrated functions of the furniture in order to help promote a healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle. Each piece can feature something different, such as a tree pot, dog dish, bookcase, or bike rack, and citizens can choose from the options on the site in which public place their piece will be located.

Once someone finishes their design, the Print Your City website also provides information on how much plastic will need to be recycled in order to attain enough raw material to 3D print that particular piece of furniture. Because they learned that it would take 12 hours to 3D print a standard furniture prototype out of an average of 100 kilos of plastic, Sakkas and Setaki decided to lower the production timeframe by optimizing the design options and improving material quality.

The geometries of the 3D printed furniture are now based on ergonomic curvatures which can better accommodate a person’s relaxed posture.

The first public space in Thessaloniki that was chosen to host the Print Your City initiative is the city’s centrally located Hanth Park. The 3D printed furniture pieces will be displayed there starting this month.

Discuss this initiative, and other 3D printing topics, at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

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