Plastic Brick Compressor

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Introduction: Plastic Brick Compressor

About: Student Maker - Design Technology @ UWCSEA East Singapore

Background

This is my IB HL Design Technology major project. It is a product that takes plastic waste and transforms it into bricks. This product was specifically designed for rural (developing areas) environments and as such, requires no electricity to operate. The production of plastic bricks in these communities can help to not only clean up their environment but also educate them on the plastic issue, provide sustainablebuildingmaterials as well as promote social entrepreneurship in these areas.

This is, unfortunately, a very specialized project as requires access to quite a few resources as you might notice when you read through this Instructable. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask them in the comments, and lastly, please vote for this instructable in the Plastics Contest if you enjoyed it!

Supplies

  • 4x M5 Bolts
  • 4x M5 Washers
  • 4x M5 Hex Nuts
  • M5 Tapping Screw
  • Baking Paper
  • Steel 12 mm Thick
  • Steel 6 mm Thick
  • Old Mortise Drill

Step 1: The Base: Modified Mortise Drill

The product is built around the mechanism of an old mortise drill. I used a mortise drill as it already had the necessary rack and pinion mechanism. I stripped the drill of all electronics and redundant members as shown in the image on the right.

When proceeding with this part of the process, do not worry if you don't have the exact same type of drill. This is a very flexible project and the process of making should be able to be applied to a variety of drills and presses.

Step 2: CAD: Designing the Machine

I first developed the product using CAD (Fusion 360 + TinkerCAD). The illustrations above represent my final chosen design based on the shape of the mortise drill.

Step 3: TinkerCAD Design

Step 4: Modelled Wooden Parts

Before proceeding to the metal prototype, I needed to ensure that all dimensions were accurate and that all the parts fit together. To do this, I made a life-size wooden model where I used plywood to simulate the 10mm thick steel and MDF to simulate the 6mm thick steel. I also used a PVC pipe to model the steel cylinder.

Each part can be found in the images above. This is a very important step in the design process as we can finally see the product coming to life. Any crucial mistakes or errors can also be caught out before we proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Manufactured Steel Parts

After sending the design specs to an external manufacturer, they were able to reproduce the necessary parts in steel (as displayed in the images above). A few factors to consider here:

  • Steel is quite dense and as a result, this contraption is 30 Kg. Take caution when handling components.
  • Steel expands when hot. This will allow the sides to expand in the oven ensuring a tight fit for a perfect brick shape. But once cooled, the sides will contract to enable the user to remove them with ease.
  • Steel will rust if it is left damp. After use, remember to dry each component and spray WD-40 over each piece if possible.

*Safety considerations: Always wear gloves when handling the machine and watch out for sharp edges. Also, do not breathe in plastic fumes.

Step 6: Securing the Modified Drill Press to the Base

The 10mm thick base plate should have M11 sized threaded holes where the base of the drill is meant to be secured to the steel plate. This joint is secured using three M11 bolts as shown in the image above.

Step 7: Tapping the M5 Threads

I used an M5 tapping screw to create threads in the holes on top of the compression plate. This allowed me to fit and secure M5 hex bolts through the holes for the next step.

Step 8: Securing the Compression Plate

Once the threads were complete, I fit an M5 hex bolt through each hole and the corresponding holes on the Mortise drill base and seen above. I then added hex nuts to each bolt underneath the joint and securely tightened each bolt using a wrench.

Step 9: Heating & Compressing the Brick

Now that the product is complete, it is time to test how effective it is.

  • I started up the oven setting the temperature at 270 degrees celsius (very hot!) - proceed with care when loading and unloading the brick.
  • I took an A4 sheet of baking paper and lined the mold with it so that the brick didn't come in contact with fixed steel sides.

  • I used shreddedHigh Impact Polystyrene for the test brick and poured it into the mold until it reached the 100 mm mark. I then folded the paper over the top so that the compression plate didn't come in direct contact with the plastic.
  • I loaded the brickmold into the oven and kept it there for 15 minutes (until the plastic was easily compressible).
  • I then removed the mold from the oven and place it back under the compression device and pressed the lever down in order to compress the brick. I held it in this position for 20-30 seconds.

Step 10: Cooling & Removing the Brick

Once the brick was fully compressed, it was time to remove it from the mold:

  • I started by placing the mold under a cold stream of water in order to reduce the temperature of the steel allowing it to contract.
  • Once sufficiently cooled, I removed the side plates which then allowed me to remove the entire brick with ease thanks to the baking paper.
  • I proceeded by scraping the wet baking paper off of the brick and I trimmed the sides in order to make the brick safer to handle.


And that was it! The final brick weighed about 1 Kg and ended being surprisingly sturdy.

Step 11: Final Notes

While the product and end result was successful, it is important to remember that the design process is not finished, especially with this product. There are still opportunities to make it more self-sufficient and faster when it comes to making bricks. Other plastics should also be tested - however, never mix different plastics when using this product!

I hoped you enjoyed reading this Instructable!

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    73 Comments

    0
    Salu
    Salu

    6 weeks ago

    Hello, are you able to do a mold for me?

    0
    Petarjate
    Petarjate

    4 months ago

    Waaaaw this is really a break through product
    How much will it cost me to get one

    0
    xchak09
    xchak09

    4 months ago

    amazing! + well done!

    0
    EurekaKhong
    EurekaKhong

    7 months ago

    Hello, Thank you for sharing! If possible, could u share:
    1. What is the weight of 1 brick?
    2. What is the compressive strength of the brick?
    3. Any examples of actual construction using these bricks?

    0
    StephenB276
    StephenB276

    9 months ago

    I don't know how much force is produced by the morticer mechanism and I doubt that much compressive force is required for this. I suspect that simply placing some weight on top of the lid of the form would suffice. Advantages: A. Simplicity. B. Constant compressive force even if the volume of the plastic changes as it melts.

    0
    Kwolf12
    Kwolf12

    10 months ago

    Rather than the whole complicated method of designing the press, you can kludge the same sort of device using a hydraulic car-jack. Jacks are a lot more commonly owned, and to generate the compression you only need to direct the force of the jack evenly into the brick-mold.

    As for the uses of the brick that people are talking about below, no need to use it AS a brick: you can take that block of plastic and carve it, saw or drill or whatever, to create what you need, much as our ancestors used wood. You can also make a mold with the majority of the carving already done to speed the post-compression processing or to create more standardized parts.

    0
    theTGIplays
    theTGIplays

    11 months ago

    Great job, but I cant seem to get my hands on the things I need

    0
    jeanniel1
    jeanniel1

    11 months ago

    Good thinking on the concept and for the WHOLE world, third or otherwise. The first world needs it as much as any other. I visited Pakistan in the rural regions and it was astounding how much plastic could be found EVERYWHERE! The animals were eating it, and remnants were plowed into fields. To remove all this debris would make everywhere much healthier. Don't take offense when it is created to make the world a better place. The emphasis there is on the wrong intention.

    0
    ManoelG3
    ManoelG3

    11 months ago

    The expression "third world" is deprecated, unrespectful and should be avoided. The world is only one, poor people from poor countries are humans from Earth, too, they are not aliens from another world.
    Something that you maybe are not aware: poor people in rural areas in poor countries doesn't have access to so much plastic in such a way that they could use all that plastic to make bricks. Discarding of plastic is not a real problem for them.

    0
    ManoelG3
    ManoelG3

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks! Since you edited the text to remove the expression "third world", which comes from a time 30+ years ago when there were a "first world" (developed), a "second world" (communist URSS and their allies) and a last AND least "third world", I will delete this thread, after you read it.

    0
    ken.mulf
    ken.mulf

    Question 11 months ago

    nice idea, what about the practicality of finding suitable materials in volume ?
    without materials i.e suitable recyclable plastic, its pie in the sky stuff.

    0
    Rehaan33
    Rehaan33

    Answer 11 months ago

    Well, plastics are all around us. In our products, disposables, and everyday items. While I have only tried making bricks from High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS), I have yet to try other plastics. In particular, Polyethylene (PE) as it is the plastic used in making disposable bags. A material that I am sure no one will have trouble getting a hold of in the near future given it's widespread use and availability.

    0
    ManoelG3
    ManoelG3

    Reply 11 months ago

    sorry, but poor people in rural areas in developing countries have no access to so much plastic. If they had, it would be better to sell it to a recycling facility and buy bricks of clay, that is a material effective for building. Your project deserves praise but I 'm sorry that it will not be useful in rural area in developing countries. Did you already have been in such an area?

    0
    Rehaan33
    Rehaan33

    Reply 11 months ago

    On the contrary, it is specifically useful for these areas as they tend to suffer most from plastic pollution. Developed nations tend to have established waste management systems. Not to mention, many countries export their waste to developing countries. It is shocking to realize just how widespread and far-reaching our uses for plastics have become. Not to mention, which recycling facilities are you talking about (especially ones that exist in developing nations)? I have never heard of a recycling plant buying waste plastic. They are the ones who are usually paid to take the plastic (especially from developed nations).

    Regardless, perhaps this article explains this situation better: https://resource.co/article/plastic-pollution-caus...

    Thank you for your question :)

    0
    ManoelG3
    ManoelG3

    Reply 11 months ago

    I live in a South-America country with severe wealth inequality. So, there is affluent people which consumes a lot of products that create all kind of waste, and, there is also poor people who make their living collecting recyclables. This is the real reason behind the fact that my country has a stunning 98,4% rate of recycling aluminum from beverage cans. Saddly, the reason is not an environmental conscience; the reason is the poverty of the people that has not other way of living than collecting cans in garbage bins.

    About recycling plants buying waste plastic: they exist here. I live in an urban area and every day a lot of people pass in front of my house searching for recyclables in the garbage. They don't get interested in tin cans (albeit the name, tin cans are made of steel), neither in glass. Cardboard and paper, sometimes. The people collect only some kind of plastic (PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP), and aluminum. Of course they sell the plastic and the aluminum. It seems to me that, for those people, selling the plastic will be more worth their effort than using a complex and energetic intensive process to produce a doubtful-use brick with the plastic waste that they collect. ;-)

    This link shows a plant that buys plastic for recycling: http://resoambiental.com/portfolio-item/compra-se-plastico-pead/

    The link you provided is interesting, but I fear that the situation of poor people in rural areas in my country is not that they're drowning under a pile of waste plastic. The poor people from urban areas does indeed collect (and sells) a lot of plastic; but poor people from rural areas don't have the money for buying a lot of things made of plastic, neither they have access to a significant amount of post-consumer plastic from other people.

    0
    Engineer1002
    Engineer1002

    11 months ago

    This is an interesting way of eliminate waste plastic! But I fear that, before designing a device to create those bricks, there were some questions that needed to be answered about this kind of brick.
    Can it be used as a real concrete or clay brick? Does this plastic brick support tension, compression? How much? Is it possible to build a secure wall, even a little room, with a bunch of those bricks? Will those walls support their own weight, and the weight of a ceiling and a roof?

    0
    ye57324
    ye57324

    11 months ago

    Practical and innovative project! Seems awesome, amazing!!!

    0
    FranciscoG
    FranciscoG

    Question 11 months ago on Step 11

    WOOWWWWW!!!!! amazing
    Please:
    How did you do the .pdf planes?
    what software do you used?

    0
    Rehaan33
    Rehaan33

    Answer 11 months ago

    Thanks! I used Fusion 360 (Autodesk) for CAD.