Dr Katharina Vones

Project Title: Ocean Plastic: Developing a Model for localised Remanufacturing

Ocean plastic is a global environmental problem that is growing in both significance and severity. It also represents an underused material resource that is freely available in affected Scottish coastal areas. This research project focused on exploring how Ocean Plastic gathered in remote beachside locations can be used to fabricate 3D printing filament.

In September 2018, Katharina Vones and co-investigator Ian Lambert travelled to the Isle of Harris where they undertook extensive scoping of Ocean Plastic repositories on the Isle of Harris, which included gaining access to more remote locations by liaising with local farmers and fishermen. A focal point was the Islet of Scarp, including the sea lochs situated to its North. Several beaches along the South West coast of the Isle of Harris were also surveyed, particularly those located around Hushinish, Gobhaig, Borve and Rodel. On visiting the targeted locations, the team collected a representative selection of Ocean Plastic samples to analyse and experiment with.

The samples collected ranged in size between 2 and 40cm, including broken parts as well as whole objects, in as wide a variety of plastics as possible. The samples were subsequently brought back to the Edinburgh Napier University polymer lab, where different processes for filament extrusion in combination with the biopolymer PLA were tested, yielding a number of reels of 3D printing filament. Methods of single screw filament extrusion suitable for being used in a workshop environment were also successfully explored.

To share the resulting material knowledge, educational workshops with school-aged children were held at the Sir E. Scott Secondary School in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, and at Mallaig High School on the Scottish West Coast, while a third took place at the 2019 Research Through Design conference at the Delft University of Technology. A resulting academic paper was presented at the Design Research for Change conference at the Design Museum in London and published in the accompanying book in December 2019.

Awarded: Research Incentive Grant

Field: Visual Art, Interpretation Design & Practice

University: University of Dundee

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