Turning waste into water
Early in 2017, we began working in partnership with Deakin University to develop and test creative new 3D printing technology to support our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programming. The unit pulls together three technologies: solar power, plastic recycling and 3D printing and aims to produce reliable and useful spare parts for water supply systems.
One of the drivers for this is the prohibitively high cost of spare parts for water supply systems in remote island communities (it is the community’s responsibility to maintain their water system) and the growing supply of waste plastics available for re-purposing.
Deakin University’s passionate staff are working on this project in their state-of-the-art Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training (CADET) in Waurn Ponds, Geelong, Victoria, where early results are promising.
Once we have some robust solutions, we’re planning to test them in the field with some of Plan International’s local partners in Solomon Islands later in 2017. We’ve already printed some great prototypes of High-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe fittings from 100% recycled plastics and have some engineering students running quality tests to ensure durability and pressure ratings.
There are of course many other applications that we see 3D printing (particularly using recycled plastics) being well suited to in future. This is just the beginning.