Are you looking for eco-friendly materials to use for your next product?

Eco friendly materials to use for product design

Be sure to consider these five materials.

1. Glass

Glass can be an excellent alternative to plastic in the product design process. While plastic is derived from fossil fuels and is incredibly taxing on the environment, glass is actually made from sand, a renewable resource. It is also incredibly easy to recycle.

2. Liquid wood

Liquid wood is a promising new bioplastic that is currently garnering lots of attention. Though dubbed liquid wood, this biopolymer is intended to replicate plastic. It looks, feels, and looks exactly like plastic, but is totally biodegradable as it is derived from pulp-based lignin, a completely renewable resource. Liquid wood is produced by mixing lignin, a byproduct of paper mills, with water. The mixture is then exposed to intense heat and pressure, creating a moldable composite material that is super strong and totally nontoxic. It’s a win-win. In the past several years German researchers have incorporated this plastic substitute into a variety of different items, including toys, golf tees, and hi-fi speaker boxes.

3. Chicken feathers

Believe it or not, chicken feathers are almost entirely composed of keratin, one of the toughest and most durable proteins available. An added bonus? There is certainly no shortage of chicken feathers. More than three billion pounds of chicken feathers need to be disposed of annually in the United States alone. Of course, we don’t expect you to actually use the feathers themselves in the design process. Rather, chicken feathers can be used to make a keratin-based plastic that is both substantially stronger than traditional plastics and remarkably more eco-friendly, as it is fully biodegradable.

4. PCL polyesters

Polycaprolactone (PCL) is a synthetic aliphatic polyester that can completely degrade after six weeks of composting. This miracle material has been used in biomedical devices and sutures, as well as applications for food-contact products, such as trays.

5. Starch-based polymers

One of the hottest eco-friendly materials out there, starch-based polymers are 100 percent biodegradable, low-cost, and renewable. Starch-based polymers are part of a growing trend in which plant materials are being optimized for manufacturing purposes. “An increasing number of applications have emerged recently, including packaging, biomedical products, textiles, agriculture, household use and building, where biodegradable polymers and biocomposites are particularly suitable as sustainable alternatives to plastics,” explains Bergeret Anne. Currently these biocomposites are bit pricey, but prices may very well drop as technology improves.

Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with strengths in software development, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial design. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.