This article is part of Precious Plastic, a One Army project tackling the plastic waste problem. You can learn morehere
The Precious Plastic Injection machine is an open source machine to transform plastic waste into beautiful recycled plastic products. Anyone can build it and make a business recycling plastic. Thousands of people are already using the Injection machine around the world. Let's dive into it.
In this article you will learn the basics about the Injection machine and how the community is replicating and improving it from around the world.
- Injection Basics
- Top Injection workspaces
- How to get started
- Useful links
The Precious Plastic Injection machine was originally designed and developed at the Design Academy by Dave Hakkens back in 2013. Then, during version 2 it was refined by Kees and released open source to the world in 2016. Ever since then, it’s been gently sitting in the Download Kit helping thousands of people with their recycling projects.
It’s simplicity, very low building cost, easy transport and great products makes it one of the most replicated Precious Plastic machines. We estimate the number of Injection machines out there in the thousands by now. Long life the Injection machine!
Let’s look at the basics of the Injection machine:
First things first, how does the Injection machine work?
To be fair, the fundamental functioning of the Precious Plastic Injection machine is very simple. Heat the plastic, melt it, press it in a mould, cool it and you’re done. Let’s look at it in a bit more details:
1. Set the machine to the correct temperature. This depends on the plastic you’re going to recycle. Over the years we found the Injection machine to work best with PP and HDPE.
2. Load the barrel through the hopper with your recycled plastic of choice. Once the barrel is loaded wait 5-10min for the plastic to fully melt.
3. Using the hand powered lever inject the melted plastic into your mould.
4. Release the mould and cool it for a few minutes. You can use water to speed up the process.
5. Open the mould and you’ll have your recycled product. You might still need to do some simple finishing.
What can you make with the Injection machine?
The Injection machine is often used for small productions of very precise objects. Objects tend to be fairly small as there is only as much plastic that you can fit in the barrel. Some people have hacked the Injection machine to have a bigger or longer barrel so they can make bigger objects but by default you want to think small-ish.
Generally with the Injection machine you can make a very wide variety of products like combs, vases, pens, rulers, carabiners, tiles, phone cases, jewellery, door knobs and much, much more.
In the Precious Plastic Academy we provide some directions on circular product design and best practices. Additionally people in the Precious Plastic community are creating How-tos to teach others about their techniques and moulds.
Overall, when it comes to product design we’re only scratching the surface of what can be done. A world of possibilities is awaiting to be explored. Feeling inspired? We’re looking forward to seeing what you will create!
Ok, but what about moulds?
To make any products with the Injection machine you will need to have a mould. The mould holds the shape of the final product. A good mould means a good product. Moulds are normally made from aluminium. And it is totally worth it to invest in a proper mould.
To help people learn about moulds and get started making products with the Injection machine we’ve made a whole chapter in the Precious Plastic Academy dedicated to moulds, alternatively if you prefer to simply buy one you can use the Precious Plastic Bazar.
Hosting educational recycling workshops
A very common outcome of many Injection workspaces around the world is to host educational workshops to educate people around recycling and the plastic pollution problem.
Once you’ve mastered your setup, refined your process and taken care of the necessary extra safety measures these workshops can be fairly easy to make and can generate a very good profit to help you run your recycling business.
How much does the Precious Plastic Injection machine cost?
Precious Plastic is a global project, so it tends to be hard for us to say how much it will cost to build where you live. What we can tell you is how much it costs in The Netherlands, where we’re based. This should serve as a ballpark estimate and you should do your research locally.
In The Netherlands, the material cost to make the Injection machine is around € 350, cheap hey?! Bear in mind that these are material costs, to this you should add labour if you’re not building it yourself.
Make sure to visit the Precious Plastic Bazar for parts and whole Injection machines.
Time to make €€€ with the Injection machine
The Injection machine is one of the most viable business models for Precious Plastic projects. Particularly considering the very low financial entry level and high profit margin on workshops and events. Small and custom productions are also a crucial income stream for Injection workspaces.
Top Injection workspaces around the world (updated April 2021)
Precious Plastic designs and develops machines. Once ready we put them online for free for people to replicate them and start recycling those mountains of plastic waste waiting to be recycled. That’s how we tackle plastic pollution. Ok, let’s explore the most interesting and promising Injection workspaces around the world.
Bope | 🇹🇭
Bope from Chiang Mai, Thailand is the Precious Plastic workspace par excellence, one of the most prolific spaces since the very beginning in 2016. When it comes to making tiles Bope is the absolute master in the Precious Plastic community. No one can beat them in quality, finishing and production capacity. The team has now grown to 5 people recycling plastic daily. Super proud of Ther, Permika and the team. Check out their how-to showing how they make a modular vase or this video showing the space and techniques.
| Instagram |
Precious Plastic Melbourne | 🇦🇺
Piers and Kayla Mossuto started a few years back but already got themselves noticed in Australia and beyond for the top notch product design and small batch productions. Amongst other nice products they made lots of combs, dog leashes, facemasks, soap dishes and more.
Johannplasto | 🇩🇪
Thomas from Johannplasto is one of the latest discoveries from the Precious Plastic community. He makes very nice products like lamps and screwdrivers and if it wasn’t enough he also crafts the sweetest animations.
kunststoffschmiede | 🇩🇪
The guys at kunststoffschmiede have been amongst the most active workspaces out there since early 2017. Most known for the Pirana clamp and other very clean product over the years they’ve also mastered workshops and educational events. Plus they made this super useful how-to on how they built their bicycle shredder.
Plastplan | 🇮🇸
Bjorn helped develop Precious Plastic version 3, then went back to Iceland and begun Plastplan. Beyond the most exceptional haircut Bjorn and his team never stop to surprise us with incredibly sleek yet functional products.
Tallers Esferica | 🇪🇸
Marc and Aniol were amongst the very first ones to replicate the Precious Plastic machines back in 2016. Since then they’ve been busy refining the technique to create recycled sunglasses. Fast Forward 5 years and they’ve set up Fos Barcelona having a go at disrupting the eyewear industry.
Prag Lab | 🇰🇷
Cohni from Prag Lab is also amongst the very early adopters. Since the beginning Prag Lab has always been creating super pro machines, products and workshops. By now they’re leading a very active community recycling plastic in Korea.
Utoplast | 🇳🇴
We talked about Vincent and Utoplast before as since their inception they’ve been ultra active making new products and productions. Plus very funny videos. Check them out for some serious inspiration.
Atelier Rehab |🇫🇷
Alongside creating very nice furniture, French duo from Atelier Rehab has been making super legit tiles and interior designs using their Injection machine. Their Christmass decorations are also a marvel.
Johe Bruneau | 🇫🇷
When craft meets recycling, Johe has been part of the team developing version 3 and 4. His creations are more crafty and artistic than the usual pushing the limits of what can be done with moulds.
Injection machine hacks
Naturally, people in the Precious Plastic community started to hack and tinker around the Injection machine to adapt its design. It’s normal, different needs > different machines. It makes us happy to see more people helping Precious Plastic to find different solutions to the plastic problem in different parts of the world.
A hack we particularly like is using a flywheel to create the necessary pressure, originally developed by Tallers Esferica to make their recycled sunglasses and subsequently replicated by other people in the community.
Injection Machine Upgrade
At the beginning of 2021 the Precious Plastic team in France has released a small upgrade of the Injection machine to make it easy to be disassembled, transport and ship. It now fits in a 1000x200x200 mm box when disassembled and weighs less than 30 kg. Plus it looks super sleek. Check out our how-to to learn how to build it and download the technical drawings.
How can I start an Injection workspace?
Use the Precious Plastic Starterkits
First thing if you want to start an Injection workspace is to dive deep in the Precious Plastic Injection Starterkit where we explain you all the details, pros and cons. Once decided you can follow this how-to guide that will take you from zero to hero in your recycling journey helping you find a space, team, build the injection, create a business model and much, much more.
Collaborate with people around you
Precious Plastic is built on collaboration as a problem as big as plastic pollution can only be tackled by working together. So make sure to dig our map and see who's working on Precious Plastic around you. Reach out to your local Community Point and understand what are the best steps to get started.
Access the Precious Plastic community and tools
Make sure to use all the platforms and resources available on our websites from the Precious Plastic Community Platform where you can engage with thousands of other people working on Precious Plastic, to the Precious Plastic Bazar where you can buy parts & kits and finally get active on One Army Discord where we have a big Precious Plastic section.
Injection Useful Links
Check out the Injection Starterkit to learn what it is, how it works, what it takes to start, costs, revenue, business plans and more.
Let’s start from the basics. If you want to learn about the Injection, how to build it, how to run it and more make sure to visit the Precious Plastic Academy and learn everything about the Injection.
On the Precious Plastic Map you can find people recycling plastic around the world. Make sure to use the filters if you only want to see Injection workspaces and get some inspiration.
On the Precious Plastic Bazar we have an entire section dedicated to the Injection where you can buy and sell parts and machines.
Hopefully, this article can give you the right inspiration and motivation to begin your own Precious Plastic Injection workspace and have a go at tackling plastic pollution in your city. Happy melting :)