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Difference between revisions of "Kingston Hot Press: Process Improvements"
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Revision as of 20:09, 15 April 2010
Check out the project on wasteforlife.org Hot Press Discussion Page
Currently, I am investigating the potential to design a plastic/paper composite extruder which would facilitate the production of feedstock for the Kingston Hot Press.
The organization Waste for Life (WFL) defines itself as "a loosely joined network of scientists, engineers, educators, architects, artists, designers, and cooperatives who work together to develop poverty-reducing solutions to specific ecological problems." Through a collaboration with researchers and community members at Queen's University, the Centro Experimental de la Produccion (CEP) in Argentina, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Smith College, and the University of Western Australia, the Kingston Hot Press has been designed and developed to provide the means of production to smaller cooperatives in communities in Argentina and Lesotho. The Hot Press allows the user to produce a value-added composite tile out of waste plastic and fiber (most commonly cardboard and paper). Currently three prototypes have been built, one at Queen's, one at RISD, and one at CEP. Detailed design drawings are available at the WFL website.
Problem Definition and Scope
The WFL team has identified several key areas of design development that they would like to pursue :
- Dimensions - The current Kingston Hot Press can produce a 24"x24"x1/4" sheet. A wider gap in the press could allow more width and perhaps allow for 3D molds. The size constraints could be circumvented if pieces could be produced in modules and then connected post-production.
- Heating Sources - Currently the plate heaters require electricity. CEP has expressed interest in a gas powered system.
- Temperature Consistency - Initial tests had shown inconsistencies between the temperature distribution on the top and bottom plates. To remedy this, researchers at Queen's replaced the 1/4" steel heating plates with 1/2" aluminum plates.
- Opening between top and bottom plates - Currently molds are slid between the heating plates. A "clam shell" lid design could allow for a more diverse range of geometries and facilitate the use of 3D molds.
- Safety and Environmental Issues - Fire safety, emissions, pollutants.
- Production Speed - The current system requires a time intensive production process to arrive at a single 1/4" composite tile. CEP has expressed interest in finding ways to improve throughput.
Currently the temperature consistency problem has been resolved with very expensive aluminum plates. A heat transfer model could assist in the evaluation of different solutions and hopefully provide an optimal solution that could use less costly and more widely available materials.
There are several key stakeholders that I have identified for this project. Here at Queen's I am working to assist Dr. Matovic with design improvements based on the Hot Press prototype in Kingston. More broadly, I hope my work can contribute to the Waste For Life team. Finally the end-user of the hot press is the cartoneros, the workers who partake in the informal economy of waste in Argentina.
I would like to develop a useful heat transfer model which could assist the WFL team in reducing the cost of the Hot Press. I would also like to take this opportunity to expand the reach of the WFL team and share their innovative design. Finally, I would like to provide a clear pictographic instruction manual for users of the Hot Press.
The hot press should provide a low-cost tool to access the means of production and add value to "waste" products. As such, materials should be as economical and accessible to the carteneros communities as possible.
Design work must be limited to theoretical analysis as significant empirical testing would require equipment not currently available for the budget and scope of the project. Future work could include an empirical evaluation of several plate designs using an array of thermal transducers (thermistors, or thermocouples) to determine realized temperature gradients in the hot press.