The material selection was very important for my product as I wanted to choose more environmentally-friendly materials. My persona and target market group are very conscious of their carbon footprint, which is one of the many reasons they choose to cycle over other options of transportation that are harmful for the planet. Within this project, I had the challenge of choosing materials that were possible for mass production in addition to choosing environmentally conscious alternatives to petroleum, non-renewable materials, such as plastic, to show the capabilities of these green materials within my product and how they add to the outcome with fantastic material properties.
For mass production and cost efficiency, the main body and side doors would need to be made from a plastic. However, plastics are non-renewable and petroleum-based leaving a big carbon footprint on a mode of transport that is almost entirely carbon-free. Therefore, I had to look at alternative solutions to plastics that are less harmful to the environment. Examples such as Arboform (liquid wood), PCL, PHA, PLA were all considered however the final material choice was hemp plastic. Hemp plastic has good thermal stability, good dimensional stability, good UV stability, minor abrasion with an aesthetic similar to wood. In addition to the natural look, this material offers a variety of styles with ‘new colouring technology is now available with most colours’. (hempplastic.com, 2017
To continue the theme of ecological material selection, I decided to showcase hemp in a textile in addition to a hard-shell form. The fabric I selected for the addition pannier storage, that doubles as a handle, was a 100% organic hemp canvas material. This is a strong material that is used for a variety of uses from clothing to upholstery because of its strong weave that provides the strength. If it is to be used to carry additional storage and hold the weight of both the carry case and the cat inside, I had to ensure to pick a material that have the textile properties to do so.
I chose a 100% hemp strapping material for the quadruple straps on the side doors of the pet carry case as hemp is famously known for its tensile strength and would add to the products USP of ensuring the customer a high level of safety and security.
Initially I wanted to add some acoustic walling to the inside to help dampen the sound of the urban city for the cat on the bicycle ride. To do this I sandwiched a cork centre between two 2mm hemp plastic outer shells. Along with dampening the sound, cork makes an excellent insulator to keep heat in when on the road and as a pet bed and is shock absorbent to stabilise any bumps along the way. In manufacture, the hemp plastic and cork are compressed together into shape using a mounding press often used in car door linings. The compressing moulding would have 10mm cork and two 2mm hemp plastic sheets sandwiching the cork in the middle. Hemp plastic is suitable for heated moulding and cork is very robust making both materials suitable for this manufacturing process.
The handle will be using hemp plastic and cork once again but instead of being on the inside, it will instead cover the outside of the plastic handle to give a strong but soft grip to the handle. I have chosen a cork cover for the handle to help compromise the weight of the cat and a more comfortable user experience when carrying a pet around. The hemp plastic would will be injection moulded into the shape of the handle while the cork handle will compression mould the two halves so they can wrap around the hemp plastic to create the full handle.
Hempplastic.com. (2017). Hemp Plastic Material for Injection Moulding. [online] Available at: http://www.hempplastic.com/injection-moulding.html [Accessed 10 May 2017].
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