Our product development team is working to connect outreach and engineering by designing items that we can create using our machines. More specifically, products are made during the injection molding process by melting the plastic pellets (created by the shredder) and injecting them into molds. We are hoping to create products that can then benefit the community, going along with our mission to put plastic recycling back into the hands of people. Currently, we are working with both the Ithaca Community Gardens and Ithaca Schools to create items to assist them in gardening and teaching, respectively.
The board of the Ithaca Community Gardens is excited at the prospect of a partnership with ARC because of their interest in community engagement and need for new tools. We met with them at the beginning of the Spring semester and proposed simple products based on information from Dilmun hill, Cornell’s campus farm. We left the meeting with two product focuses: small clips to hold up tomato plants and plant markers for seed starting and rows. We considered more creative ideas, such as shaping the plant markers like the plant they are labeling, or embossing the name of the plant in the mold instead of writing on it, among others. After more discussion, we decided it would be more feasible to use one design that can be written on. While brainstorming ideas, our team came up with some great designs including leaves, trees, flowers, and more! The plan is to 3D print prototypes and take them to our next meeting with the Community Gardens Board to get feedback.
With the Ithaca School District, we have been working with teachers from the science department to design models that could be useful in their curriculum. Currently designs are in the works for DNA and phase change models. These models are meant to provide high school students with an interactive learning tool that can help them visualize processes that happen on a molecular level. We are currently using software to design the models so that we can 3D print and figure out which is the best in terms of the needs of the teachers and students and in terms of feasibility and durability.