Marine farm waste is being converted into paddles, nesting boxes and bench seats, thanks to Matthew O’Hagen.
For his Master’s thesis in design innovation at Victoria University, Matthew has been testing how to feed marine waste materials into 3D printers to create things made of the recycled material.
Growing up on the coast near Wellington gave Matthew a passion for the ocean and his under-graduate work convinced him he wanted to focus on some form of sustainability.
When he heard last year that Sanford had offered to support Victoria University on 3D printing using waste streams, Matthew made an approach to the company’s Innovation leader Andrew Stanley.
Sanford funded Matthew to visit its Havelock factory processing Greenshell mussels and its Timaru fish-processing plant. More than 40kgs of disused mussel floats, ropes and nets were then despatched to Victoria University.
Matthew’s first task was to clean the material to the pristine condition required for processing.
“I hand washed it all with a scrubbing brush; it was days on end.”
Then the plastic material had to be cut up and put into an industrial oven, with the resulting slabs then granulated. It was then processed into spools of filament to feed into the university’s 3D printer.
A few polyethylene bottles were granulated and added into the ropes and floats material to provide a consistent filament with a diameter of 2.2 – 2.9mm.
Sanford has a six-point plan to be the most sustainable seafood company and this extends to investing in technology and science to achieve this. Matthew decided to programme the 3D printer to turn out items that supported ocean activity – paddles for paddleboards, nesting boxes for little blue penguins and durable plastic seats for a beachside environment.
“I wanted to try and turn the marine waste into things that someone who loves the ocean can enjoy.”
Some of the items are only on a small scale but Matthew says larger 3D printers are already available to turn out products on a commercial scale.
He’s not yet focused on what can be done – right now he’s working all hours to get his thesis complete – but already he’s attracting attention. In TechWeek2020 in late July, Matthew featured in a streamed highlight package of presentations which will be seen at the MaDE (Manufacturing Design Entrepreneurship NZ) conference in Auckland in December. His is entitled: From Line to Loop