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Managing Editor  | June 2017

Brunel University student creating skateboards out of plastic bags

Jason Knight, a 22-year-old industrial design student at Brunel University in London (U.K.), has tried to make plastic recycling more interesting for younger generations by using a compact press to turn plastic shopping bags into material for building skateboard decks, according to a report on the university website.



A Brunel University student is using shopping bags to create skateboard decks.
(Brunel University)


The goal is to make recycling a fun process for young people by offering a “tangible personal reward as well as an environmental impact.”


This new process not only finds a way to impact the recycling of plastic, but could also have an effect on the deforestation problem, as skateboards are typically built from Canadian maple trees, and could save money for kids who go through several decks in a year at an average cost of £40-60 apiece.


The article explained, “He began experimenting with recycling plastics two years ago, shredding and then melting down bags made from high-density polythene. Once heated to 130 degrees, the plastic becomes soft and malleable like clay and reduces in size as particles melt together. Sustained pressure molds it into a solid object and, with air pockets removed, creates an incredibly strong material with a multi-colored surface finish resembling marble.”


During his coursework, Knight worked at the FabLab at Rosklide University in Denmark to build a plastic shredding machine that has been exhibited at several festivals and that he hopes can become a standard piece of equipment at skate shops.


According to the article, “Experienced skateboarders have described the decks as more flexible than a wooden board but, when you get the hang of it, ‘you can ollie (jump) higher than with a wooden board, opening up new possibilities for tricks’. Aesthetically, the boards ‘look incredible’. ‘The fact that each board is unique is so cool, riders will be able to customize their decks with whatever colors they like,’ one user added.”


The press is built from steel, weighs 200 kg, and is six feet by six feet. It holds an aluminum mold and has wheels for easy movement. Prior to pressing, users add a release agent, which acts as a lubricant for the molten plastics so that it spreads easily. The process currently takes around two hours.


The plastic pressing machine will be part of the Made in Brunel exhibition in mid-June in London.

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