This article is part of Precious Plastic, a One Army project tackling the plastic waste problem. You can learn morehere
The Precious Plastic Sheetpress is an open source machine to transform plastic waste into recycled plastic sheets. Anyone can build it and make a business from recycling plastic. And dozens of people are already building the Sheetpress around the world to tackle the plastic waste problem.
In this article you will learn the basics of the Sheetpress and how the Precious Plastic community is replicating it around the world.
- Sheetpress Basics
- Sheetpress around the world
- How to get started
- Useful links
At the beginning of 2020 Precious Plastic released Version 4 to the world and, amongst other sweet recycling gems, the Sheetpress was unveiled. A (complicated) year later and we already see dozens of people around the world replicating the machine, recycling sheets and making amazing recycled products with plastic that would otherwise be waste and a problem for planet earth. Watch the promo to get a reminder.
If you are new to Precious Plastic and the Sheetpress, below we'll give you a brief overview of the machine and what can be done with it, otherwise skip this section and dive into the new stuff.
Ok, so first things first, what is the Sheetpress system?
The Sheetpress system is made up of three machines: the Sheetpress (duh), the cooling press and the prep table. It is possible to press plastic sheets with the sheetpress alone but to improve efficiency and speed of production it is better to create them all. You can learn how to build the sheetpress and the other machines on the Precious Plastic Academy. Or if machine building ain't your cup of tea you can buy one from the Precious Plastic Bazar.
How does the Sheetpress work?
The process of pressing recycled sheets is not rocket science, it’s pretty simple. Collect the plastic, shred it, melt it and press into a plate. Easy peasy :)
1. First, you load a mould (1x1m) with your plastic of choice to be recycled, you can use the prep table for this. PS (Polystyrene) and PP (Polypropylene) tend to work best for making recycled sheets.
2. Once the mould is ready it is placed in the Sheetpress and brought to the correct temperature which depends on the plastic you are using. Then you wait anywhere between 30-60min for the plastic to fully melt while gradually adding pressure with the hydraulic jack. The plastic will melt and evenly distribute.
3. Lastly, after 30-60min you transfer the mould in the cooling press where the sheet will cool under pressure to ensure a good quality for the sheet.
The Sheetpress development journey
During Precious Plastic Version 4, a team of engineers worked on the Sheetpress for 18 consecutive months to create a machine that can easily be replicated around the world, wouldn’t be crazy expensive or difficult to build, and most importantly, a machine that would be nice to work with.
After over € 50K (materials only), endless hours, many failures and dead ends the Sheetpress is now freely available and open source for people to tackle the plastic waste problem. A massive shout out to our Patrons supporting us every single month to make this possible as well as FAMAE that awarded us a prize to make this happen.
What can you make with the Sheetpress system?
Short answer, recycled sheet or plates. Long answer, anything your creativity and genius can come up with. The outcome of the Sheetpress are sheets and plates of recycled plastic. However, we see the sheets as a starting point. The raw material for many other industries and areas. Sheets can be used in interiors, architecture, product design, art and more. In our academy we have a whole chapter on how to run the Sheetpress.
Ultimately, it is up to you what magic you’ll make with the Sheetpress!
Oh and if you feel very inspired before starting to recycle tons of plastic with your new Sheetpress, you can also make a big pizza for your crew to kick off your recycling (ad)venture 🚀
How much is the Precious Plastic Sheetpress?
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 but you should still do your research locally before starting.
In The Netherlands the material costs to make the Sheetpress is around € 2,550 with an additional € 860 to make the prep table and cooling press. 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 our Bazar for parts and already built Sheetpresses.
Make a business recycling plastic with the Sheetpress?
The Sheetpress seems to be one of the most viable business models for Precious Plastic projects. Both the machines, the sheets and products that can be made are in high demand and can be sold at a profit. A little downside is that the initial investment in terms of money, space and team is a little higher than with other starterkits.
Sheetpress Around the World
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.
People are replicating the Sheetpress system all over the world
One year since releasing the Precious Plastic Sheetpress online and we’re seeing a wave of people and workspaces replicating it to recycle plastic around the world.
There is definitely a big excitement around this machine. Many people are replicating the exact one we provide in the Download Kit, others hacking it, making it smaller, bigger, certified CE and more.
We’re very happy to see such a big global engagement and development as this can help to improve the machine and process. And ultimately refine our solutions to tackle the plastic problem. And that’s why, if you are working on the Sheetpress, it is super important that you share back your learning making a How-to so more people can learn how you tackle the plastic waste problem.
List of Sheetpress systems around the world (updated March 2021)
Ok, let’s see who’s replicating the Sheetpress around the world and how.
Fab Unit 🇫🇷
This Precious Plastic workspace based in Crest, France is active since December 2020 when they built their sheetpress and started making this exquisite stool from recycled plastic. Can’t wait to see what else will come out of this project.
Profile | Website | Instagram
Precious Plastic Gran Canaria 🇪🇸
After an outstanding 2020 where Precious Plastic Gran Canaria led the covid response from the precious plastic community designing and producing tens of thousands of ICUs and face visors they're now shifting their focus on the Sheetpress. By May the already manage to reproduce the Sheetpress and are now making beautiful sheets while experimenting with colours and patterns.
Profile | Website | Instagram | Bazar
Sheep on Wheels 🇧🇪
This super active Precious Plastic workspace from Belgium have hacked the machine with a nice display and are pressing super proper sheets while experimenting with CNC and other manufacturing processes.
Profile | Website | Instagram |
Precious Plastic Vienna 🇦🇹
Precious Plastic has been very active for a few years now and have always been focusing on the sheetpress even before we released it ourselves. By now they produce nice sheets and make workshops teaching people about recycling plastic.
Profile | Website | Instagram |
Precious Plastic BDG 🇮🇩
Precious Plastic BDG (no idea what it stands for) has been working on Precious Plastic from Indonesia since the very beginning back in 2016 and recently made a Sheetpress producing top top quality sheets.
| Instagram |
Precious Plastic Ukraine 🇺🇦
Straight from Odessa the people at Precious Plastic Ukraine have been building Sheetpresses for many years now and always pushing the limits of machine building and what could be done with sheets. And generally doing quite some serious recycling.
| Instagram |
Norwegian Trash 🇳🇴
Straight from Norway this workspace aims to give trash value through design. And they definitely do. Just looks at this beautiful countertop from recycled plastic sheets.
Website | Instagram
Fiction Factory 🇳🇱
Fiction Factory is a super cool collective form Amsterdam working on, amongst other amazing projects, Precious Plastic over the years. They were very fast at building the Sheetpress as soon as it was out and executed this sleek interior design job and made a How-to about bending recycled sheets.
Profile | Website | Instagram |
Offcut Studio 🇬🇧
Lucy, which helped with Precious Plastic Version 4, went back to Leeds to continue work on Offcut studio recycling acrylic and just recently got her hands on a brand new Sheetpress. Can’t wait to see what magic they’ll be able to melt and press.
Profile | Instagram |
Fourth Place 🇰🇷
This project from Korea looks super promising even though we can’t get what they say 🙃 They built the sheetpress and pressing pretty nice sheets already.
| Instagram |
Precious Plastic Curitiba 🇧🇷
This Precious Plastic project from Curitiba, Brazil is also working on a smaller, hacked version of the Sheetpress making very nice experiments and sheets.
| Instagram |
Now, let's see what people are making with all of these Sheetpresses
The Sheetpress main output is sheets or plates of recycled plastic. These come in many sizes and thicknesses. With Precious Plastic we’ve released a Sheetpress that can make 1x1m sheets and recently released an upgrade to make 1,5x1,5m. Thickness can also vary depending on your mould from 1-50mm.
And Precious Plastic workspaces around the world are definitely pressing some nice sheets and plates already. Even though we’re just at the beginning, we’re confident we’ll see tons of development in this field in the upcoming months.
Fascinating experiments with recycled sheets
Sheets are just sheets right? Well this is where it gets interesting as more people start to bake recycled sheets more people also start to experiment with new patterns, designs, colour combinations and more. Opening up a world of possibilities for plastic recycling.
From sheets to products
Recycled plastic sheets could be considered the outcome but they can also be seen as the starting point for more creative processes and new magic. Technically they are the raw material for new recycled products. And designers are starting to use them in interesting and fascinating ways.
Experimenting with new manufacturing techniques
With recycled sheets you can start to play around with various manufacturing techniques like lasercut or CNC milling. Quite a few people have already started experimenting with very promising and inspiring results.
Being able to make recycled sheets of 1x1m is super cool as it allows people around the world to recycle tons of plastic. But you know what’s even cooler? To make 1,4x1,4m sheets.
And that’s exactly what we’ve been working on at Precious Plastic to provide the community with an upgraded Sheetpress machine that can press larger sheets (and more plastic being recycled). Check out our how-to to learn how to build it and download the technical drawings. A great step towards our real goal of creating 1,22x2,44m sheets.
Precious Plastic is all about sharing knowledge so we can advance to a world with less plastic waste. Some outstanding people and workspaces went a step further and made a how-to sharing with the Precious Plastic community how they build and work with the Sheetpress. Big up Sheep On Wheel and Fiction Factory for creating how-tos on new and automated versions of the Sheetpress and how to bend sheets.
How can I start a Sheetpress workspace?
Use the starterkits
First thing if you want to start a Sheetpress workspace is to dive deep in the 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 sheetpress, 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 Community Platform where you can engage with thousands of other people working on Precious Plastic, to the Bazar where you can buy parts & kits and finally get active on Discord.
Free.. but not really!
Precious Plastic provides all the designs and knowledge to build the Sheetpress for free and open source online. Because our goal is to tackle the plastic waste problem not make money.
However, this massive package of free knowledge helping thousands around the world to start recycling is not free to create and maintain, it literally took the past 7 years of our lives and hundreds of thousands of Euros (just in material costs).
This is made possible by people like yourself supporting Precious Plastic. If you're in a good mood become a Patron so we can keep making better machines and solutions for the entire world.
Sheetpress Useful Links
Check out the Sheetpress 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 Sheetpress, how to build it, how to run it and more make sure to visit the academy and learn everything about the Sheetpress.
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 Sheetpress workspaces.
Did we miss anyone?!
We keep seeing new Sheetpresses popping up every week so it is very possible we've missed some or new ones have been created since writing this article, so make sure to shoot us a message if there are more we should feature in this article.
Have fun baking sheets :)