The Design and Technology Lab is a joint venture between the Industrial Design Programme at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and the Product Development Group of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). The Lab is a cross-university education and research platform dedicated to interdisciplinary innovation projects.

Where waste becomes a resource

PressPoint

Where waste becomes a resource

The Design and Technology Lab is a joint venture between the Industrial Design Programme at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and the Product Development Group of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). The Lab is a cross-university education and research platform dedicated to interdisciplinary innovation projects.

Although PET can be easily recycled today, the recyclable material is hardly ever returned in Ghana.

Used bottles end up in local waters or in huge landfills. This is due to the fact that uncompressed transport is not financially viable.  

Thanks to the concept of decentralized collection points, it will be possible for waste collectors to earn money with used PET in the future. With the help of locally available funds, a system with a press at its core will be set up. The PressPoint is part of a holistic solution in which the return of PET bottles to the material cycle makes economic and ecological sense.

Interview with Arthur Collins:

What was the most unusual thing about the "PressPoint" project for you?

The dynamics! Many different actors were involved in the project: Professors, co-mentors from ETH and ZHdK, investors, the partner company ... Everyone has different expectations that they want to meet. So sometimes you have to think about which of all these expectations actually takes precedence. Good communication with the various parties plays an important role. I have never encountered such dynamics in my studies before, but it is certainly closer to the reality of product development projects in industry than the academic relationship between student and professor.

Where do you see the biggest difference between the work of a mechanical engineer and that of an industrial designer?

To put it a little simplistically, you could say that the mechanical engineer is concerned with ensuring that a product meets the requirements set by the customer, while the industrial designer thinks beyond the function and, for example, also examines usability and puts the product into context. Without industrial design, a press developed by the machine builder will only rust in Ghana. Mechanical engineering and industrial design are closely linked and the cooperation leads to a clear added value.

What will you pay particular attention to next time you work in an interdisciplinary team?

Exchange and cooperation are good, but everyone must also be able to bring their specialization, their expertise into play. The joint approach must not slow down any team member in any way. So next time I will pay particular attention to a good division of tasks early on in the process so that each discipline can realize its full potential.

What happens now? For you and with the project? 

As far as the "PressPoint" project is concerned, we are waiting until our plans are implemented on site, i.e. in Ghana. The project partner wants to have prototypes of our press manufactured and is looking for foundations and investors to finance the production. We receive many tips from family and friends, which we pass on to our project partner. But the realization is ultimately his business. Donat and I will continue to meet every six months to discuss the current state of affairs. I myself will start a master's degree in mechanical engineering in autumn 2019 with a focus on industrial design and product development and hope to be able to work interdisciplinary again in semester or master projects.


Interview with Donat Mehr:

Before the design and development work you travelled to Accra and Kumasi. What did you experience there?

Jeffrey Provencal, the founder of rePATRN, a Swiss with roots in Ghana, showed us the situation on site. We visited garbage dumps, metalworkers and markets, talked to people who work at scrap yards and tried to understand the processes. The waste issue is complex. For PET there are no closed process chains yet. Many things seem chaotic, but then they work, even if we don't understand them. People are mercilessly pragmatic. If you have to bring a dozen goats from A to B, you simply put them in the luggage compartment of the intercity bus!

How is the cooperation with the cooperation partner going?

We have a free hand and the full confidence of Jeffrey. He wants to give something back to his home country and is working on setting up a recycling system for PET bottles. A lot is still undetermined. The start-up rePATRN has just started work, but with patience it will be a good thing.

You have just under three months to develop a press prototype. Is that realistic?

The schedule is ambitious, sure, but the project is feasible because it involves a technically low-complex, relatively brute force machine - and we are highly motivated because we are working on a solution to a real problem. We have learned from African pragmatism and set ourselves clear goals: Usability, manufacturability on site, clever design of the collection points. We are looking forward to the implementation in Ghana.

Gestaltung:

Studios Zürich, Basel

 

Umsetzung:

Neusicht

 

Copyright:

©DTL, 2016

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