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Better Future Factory

Developing a sustainable semi-finished product for 3D printing applications.

3D printing is hot! It’s one of the most popular methods of manufacturing new products. But many of these products are made from conventional plastics, which is far from sustainable. Better Future Factory, a design firm that specializes in the circular economy, stumbled upon a brilliant idea: to develop, produce, and sell semi-finished 3D printing products made from recycled plastics. This includes plastics from soft drink bottles, car dashboards, and old refrigerators. The idea marked the start of a brand new subsidiary: Refil.

"Thanks to CHILL, we have a recipe for our semi-finished HIPS product and can now focus on marketing it."

Recipe for a semi-finished HIPS product

Following several successful experiments at music festivals such as Lowlands – where festival-goers could print their own cups – Refil asked CHILL to determine whether HIPS (high-impact polystyrene) would be a suitable material for 3D printing. “HIPS is a type of plastic used in refrigerators,” explains director Casper van der Meer. “But when the refrigerator breaks down, the material is thrown away. While HIPS plastics are suitable for 3D printing, the printing properties are far from ideal. Shrinkage causes the product to crack. That’s why we asked CHILL to find a way to optimize this material; for example, by adding something to it that would make it less prone to shrinkage. CHILL created and tested dozens of compositions to see how the product would stand up during the printing process. Thanks to CHILL, we have a recipe for our semi-finished HIPS product and can now focus on marketing it.”

"We made good agreements in advance about intellectual property rights and protecting our idea."

Accessible and professional

Better Future Factory is based in Rotterdam, which explains why CHILL wasn’t on Casper’s radar until he started looking for a partner to help him with his project. A mutual contact ultimately brought the two organizations together, much to the satisfaction of Casper. “CHILL is a great collaboration partner. It’s accessible and professional at the same time. During the development phase, we were closely involved in the process as the client. We had Skype meetings every other week to discuss the progress. Having students work on our project was never an issue for us. We made good agreements in advance about intellectual property rights and protecting our idea.”

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