Month: January 2016

Wasted and the 3D Canal House

Raisa van der Kroef & Marlies Franken

Research: WASTED | 3D Canal House

Introduction: We, Marlies Franken and Raisa van der Kroef, are two art students at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. We wanted to make this report to create aware of worldwide pollution. Furthermore, we wanted to search for the right solutions to the world’s waste problem: Luckily, there are already many companies that respond to this enormous problem.

We found two companies that we wanted to investigate: Wasted and the 3D Canal house. The similarity between these two companies, is that they are both struggling with the ‘plastic soup’ problematic. Both companies use old plastic (bottles) to make a new object. Of course this is a great initiative, but there are still some questions left to answer, for example: How many resources are needed in the production process of these new objects? With resources, we mean power, water and for example cleaning chemicals.

The Ps of each company + Diagram:

WASTED: The Social Building Projects

Wasted initiated a project with a few people in the north of Amsterdam. They were worried about the amount of plastic people use in their daily life. This led them to the idea to collect all that plastic, and sort it by color. They washed the plastic and made building blocks out of it. These blocks are intended for children to play with, but can also be used to make benches and other furniture.

Another great project that has similarities to the Wasted project is 3D canal House Designed by DUS Architects. Their aim is to demonstrate how 3D printing could revolutionize construction by increasing efficiency and reducing pollution and waste, and offer new tailor made housing solutions worldwide. 3D printing could also play a significant role in the quick building of low-cost housing in impoverished areas and to help those affected by disasters.



The project Wasted is excellent for bringing people together and educate them about upcycling. Wasted works with locals in North Amsterdam. They organize workshops to teach people about recycling and the waste of plastic. Wasted organizes workshops about plastic recycling at local schools. In the diagram further in this essay, its shows that Wasted excels at promoting cooperation of locals.


The project works for a better planet, furthermore they make use of a redundant material, namely used plastic. With this project they turn used plastic into a material to make new furniture and toys. They don’t have to make new materials themselves.

The diagram shows that they really want to make an effort to the world and nature.


All the people in the neighborhood use a simple plastic bag to collect the used plastic. After this you go to the place where the project collects al the plastic bags. For every plastic bag that a neighbor hand over they get a green coin. This green coin can be used at different local shops. Every week the local shops have something that the local people can buy with the green coin.

The profit of this project is for Wasted itself very low. They don’t receive a lot from an economic point of view.


Social and Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability is the ability of the environment to support a defined level of environmental quality and natural resource extraction rates indefinitely. This is the world’s biggest actual problem, though since the consequences of not solving the problem now are delayed, the problem receives too low a priority to solve.

How many resources are needed for the production process? (For example: power, water and cleaning chemicals). They collect local plastic using a cargo bike, and the oven and power tools are the only energy-dependent hardware used in making WASTED Blocks.

For cleaning they collect so much plastic that they are to use the cleanest LDPE for Blocks. This way they don’t waste resources and energy cleaning. They don’t use water in the process. Plastic we don’t personally reprocess is recycled at municipal waste facilities.


This diagram concludes that Wasted very big is in bringing people together.

3D Canal House

The 3D Print Canal House is a three-year publically accessible ‘Research & Design by Doing’ project in which an international team of partners from various sectors works together on 3D printing a full-size canal house in Amsterdam. This building project has the goal to revolutionize the building industry and offer new tailor made housing solutions worldwide. The development is done with new bio-based and sustainable and recyclable materials.



This project is set up with very different teams and partners all over the world. The opportunity that 3D Canal House gives (when you are a 3D print engineer & builder or a print and material project leader) is to participate with the 3D Canal House. (They also have places for internships).

The 3D Canal House only wants specialists to help, but they offer the public to take a look and found the project: they have a open space in Asterweg 49 in Amsterdam where you can look at 3d printed objects and parts of the House itself.

When you look at the diagram of the 3D canal house, you will see that they do less for the society. They learn new things while printing and can discuss them with each other, but that isn’t there main priority.


Just like the Wasted project is the Canal House made from old plastic (Plastic soup). They are currently printing with bioplastics. The granulate that goes into the Kamermaker is called Macromelt, a type of industrial glue (Hotmelt) developed by Henkel. It is made of 80% of vegetable oil. It melts at 170 degrees Celsius. We aim to print with a material that is sustainable, of biological origin, melts at a relatively low temperature, and of course is sturdy and stable.

The diagram shows that the 3d canal house big in the environment is.


The project is partially funded by the municipality of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts and the DOEN Foundation, and partially by the contributions of our partners. A lot of the sponsorship the 3D Print Canal House gets is in natura, through contributing knowledge or materials. In fact, the 3D Print Canal House is one big collaboration project, in which everybody shares and gets a share. And of course our visitors help finance the house by paying an entrance fee. So the profit is made out of helping people and sustainable materials.

In the diagram you will see that the economy not their main priority is.

How much is used of the world for the making process? (For example: power, water and cleaning)

The power that is used for printing is not so much. Your kettle for tea uses much much more power than the 3d printer.


3d canal house

This diagram concludes that Wasted very big is in bringing people together.
Three Head Questions + Research

There is a lot of information to be found on the internet about Wasted & 3D Canal House, but of course we still had some questions left to do our research:

The questions:

  • How much is used of the world for the making process? (Power, water, cleaning)

For example: How many water is used to clean the plastic?

  • Is the outcome of the project as positive as the process?

For example: The plastic is being removed from the sea, but aren’t we making still a lot of waste during the process?

  • How strong is it in the end? What can we make out of it when we are done using it?

For example: Can we make oil of it? Or melt it back in his original form?

We send those questions in e-mail to both of the companies, and we received some answers:



How much is used of the world for the making process? (For example: power, water, and cleaning)

It looks like you’re talking about natural resources, in which case we use them quite minimally. In our Open Source Report, you will see that human energy dominates our low-tech press and mold process. We collect local plastic using a cargo bike, and the oven and power tools are the only energy-dependent hardware used in making WASTED Blocks.

Re cleaning, we collect so much plastic we are able to use the cleanest LDPE for Blocks. This way we don’t waste resources and energy cleaning. We don’t use water in the process. Plastic we don’t personally reprocess is recycled at municipal waste facilities.

 Is the outcome of the project as positive as the process?

Before answering this question, I would like to ask you clarify what you mean by outcome and process. Do you mean the outcome of the project in terms of the Blocks, community engagement, increased recycling behavior, or? And with process do you mean the process of making Blocks, collection and reprocessing, or?

 How strong is it in the end? What can we make out of it when we are done using it?

The Block is very strong in the end. Each is solid, weighing approx. 850 grams, and they are modular for building. You can use Blocks to build items such as tree planters for the park or indoor or outdoor furniture; the goal is for the Blocks to be able to build the largest variety of objects in order to suit community needs and preferences. If the community finishes, say, using the tree planter, they can take it apart and turn it into a bench.

3D Canal House:

How much is used of the world for the making process? (For example: power, water, and cleaning) 

It depends on the material. The materials we are printing with is mostly renewable raw (linseed). The process with the wasted plastic is still a kind of new. We are trying to the best we can and to print without any waste! And the energy that is needed is not taking more than a kettle that you have at home.

Is the outcome of the project as positive as the process?

If “the project” is the 3D Print Canal House, we aim to complete the house by the end of 2017.

The process so far is very interesting and we learned a lot on how 3D printing can change the building industry within the upcoming years.

How strong is it in the end? What can we make out of it when we are done using it?

The strength is related to the used material and the structural design.

If and how we can recycle to print material depends on how the material is used in the product and if this is combined with other materials.

We appreciate the answers and want to say ‘thank you’!
­­Researching the area

We already know that Wasted is also a ‘social project’, but here is a map of the area that they use and that canal house uses. You will notice the big difference.

Kaartje wasted KAATJECANAL


We were so exited to explore these projects!

What we really liked is that the two projects were totally different companies but both working on the same subject. It’s nice to have the feeling that there are also companies that do care about the world.

Sometimes we had a hard time to investigate the projects, because we aren’t good in formulating questions and we don’t speak English all that well.

And on top of that are we not studying the same discipline. So, the contact that we had was more or less once a week, not more than two hours, and just a quick “hi” in the hallway while running to the next class.

For the next time we will try to improve our English and try to do an even bigger investigation!

“Can the sales of batteries be forced back through the use of flexible solar panels?”

The last couple of weeks we have focused our research on the durability of flexible solar panels. In the beginning we were both a little bit lost and didn’t quite know what to do. When talking to other people we began to understand the assignment and we started our research. The beginning of this investigation started after seeing the ‘Wearable Solar’ project from Pauline. Pauline designs clothing that contain solar panels. By wearing these clothes, you can generate your own energy that you can then charge your phone with. In several interviews Pauline repeats that she thinks the production of batteries must be pushed back. In her opinion people need to use batteries less instead of more. Her wearable solar project is a reaction to this matter.

The main question we asked ourselves in this study and research is: “Can the sales of batteries be forced back through the use of flexible solar panels?”

Research diagrams
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Our starting point of the presentation was mainly figuring out how much batteries are sold in the bigger countries. Such as USA, where people buy 3 billion batteries a year and the UK where they buy 200 million AA batteries a year. In The Netherlands thats a bit more, 360 million a year. People who buy the least batteries are Australians, with 7.6 AA batteries bought each year.

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We also researched which countries recycled the most and the least. Obviously Switzerland recycles the most, about 73% of the population thinks its important for the environment to recycle. France recycles the least, only 16% of the population over there recycles their stuff.

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And we examined the social environment impact of batteries, so what kind of hazardous waste do batteries have and what are the highest levels of lithium in batteries.

Schermafbeelding 2016-01-27 om 15.21.17Then we examined how much the costs of main supply, electricity were and how much the costs were from the solar panels. We’ll come back to this matter later in the essay.

Flexible Solar Panels
We are interested in making the world a better and much cleaner place, we hope everyone can relate to that. We digged deeper into the world of flexible solar panels, because what are solar panels exactly? Solar panels are devices that convert light into electricity. They are called “solar” panels because most of the time, the most powerful source of light available is the sun, called “Sol” by astronomers. Some scientists call them “photovoltaics” which means, basically, “light-electricity.” A solar panel is a collection of solar cells. Lots of small solar cells spread over a large area can work together to provide enough power to be useful. The more light that hits a cell, the more electricity it produces, so spacecraft are usually designed with solar panels that can always be pointed at the sun even as the rest of the body of the spacecraft moves around, much as a tank turret can be aimed independently of where the tank is going.

For us it was very interesting to know what the differences were between solar panels and normal, everyday batteries. For example, we started to examine the impact of batteries. How many batteries are sold worldwide? What percentage of it is recycled and what substances are all in a battery. We thought this would be a good starting point as a first step to understanding the problem.

We’ve also seen this from a social point of view because we believe that the flexible solar panels can be a very attractive aspect. People often are unaware of what impact some devices can have on the environment. The processing and apply of solar panels in everyday objects ensures that there is awareness is created. People feel like they are doing something good, without them really knowing they are actually doing something for the environment. A flexible solar also provides for some interaction. By example, by having a solar panel processed in your bag or clothing, means that you’ll always have electricity. You will always be online and reachable because you will never have an empty phone or laptop. This matter also connects to the generation of today, because people nowadays always want to be reachable and reconnected with eachother.

We use more and more power, because we have more electrical appliances per person available. One of our main assets is our electronic phone. Annual cost to charge your phone is approximately € 2,00 per person, each year. You might think that is not much. Now, life on this earth there are over 8 billion people. If you do the math, 2 x € 8,000,000,000,000 is a lot of money and also a lot of energy. To do something about that, we started an investigation to research flexible solar panels. These flexible solar panels are a lot easier in use than regular solar panels. Our motivation for this research came from Pauline van Dongen. Pauline is a fashion designer and developed “The Wearable Solar Shirt” in collaboration with Christiaan Holland and Chris Jan Jongerden. This is a garment that has flexible solar panels incorporated. By wearing this shirt, you upload and use your own energy and you can then recharge, for example, your phone again. After following this project we searched for several similar projects.

The development of the use of flexible solar panels is at this moment still in its early prototype beginnings. Yet there are already several people came along to work. For example, the aforementioned Pauline van Dongen. Tommy Hilfiger also, not so very long ago, developed a jacket where solar panels are incorporated. There are also new developments in the field of flexible and wearable solar panels. For example, there have been developments that are in progress at the moment in which solar cells are integrated in the yarn. This would mean that you could weave fabric so that, without you actually seeing that there is a solar cell is in it, it can generate solar energy.

After making our research question clear, we began to search for several similar projects. We asked ourselves what everyday objects can process the solar panels and how can the use of electricity and batteries be reduced, which later can be an impact on a cleaner world.

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Now ofcourse the weather is not always nice here in the Netherlands, so we think it is also important, for example, to process the solar panels in several clothing pieces for optimum results. Also we think that not only clothing will be the solution but multiple different items. There are estimated 8 million cars in The Netherlands and these cars are parked for the main part of the day, so we think that would be a perfect time to charge the flexible battery.

How much energy do we use? What is the capacity of a solar panel?
So, let’s do the math! For example, we take up to 1028 watt- hours per day. If you know how many you use, it’s easier to know what you need to build batteries that can store at least this capacity. The capacity of a battery is defined by the number of Ampere Hours. The number of AH is the amount of that can supply a battery for an hour. The voltage of a general battery is usually 12 volt. If you want to know the number of watt-hours converted to the number of ampere hour, the conversion is as follows: watt hours / 12 volt (voltage divide by battery) = number of Ampere Hours.

Costs of solar panels in relation to batteries and alternatives
To determine this, we need to convert the energy value to the kWh price. The main supply (normal electricity) costs € 0.25 kWh, which is the cheapest. There’s no solar panel YET that can compete with that. But when you’re on holiday or on a nice destination abroad, there will not always be 230V ready for you to use, and if there is, you need to pay a whole lot of money for it. A 10w or 15w solar panel costs about € 200,00. It really all depends on how much you’re planning to use it. For example, you go abroad 15 days a year and the solar panel provides six hours of solar energy. The lifespan of a solar panel is very high and you can take it with you for the next 20 to 25 years. The panel provides practical 7.5W. If you do the math (yes, again) this will mean that € 200,00 (for the solar panel) / (20years, 15days X 7,5Watt or 6 hours) = € 14,80 kWh, which is quite expensive in relation to the main supply (normal electricity). But the more you use the panel the cheaper it gets.

So now for the regular batteries, lets take for example Duracell Power Plus batteries. They cost about € 4.50 per 4 X AA cells. The energy per cell, according to Duracell 2300mAh (at a discharge current of 250mA) 2300mAh X 4 X 1.5V = 13,8Wh. The price per 1 kWh => 1000 / (2300mAh 6V X) x € 4.50 = € 326, – kWh. You need to have a car nearby for this alternative, but you can always use the 12V socket. This provides the energy which is taken from the burnt gasoline or Diesel. Through the dynamo, the car battery will be charged and then our devices. According to the experts provide one kg of gasoline / Diesel 47,30MJ / 44,80MJ energy. 1 liter of gasoline / Diesel has a weight of 720gram / 840gram. 1 liter of gasoline / diesel therefore provides 34,1MJ / 37,6MJ energy, this represents 9,47kWh / 10,45kWh. At a price per liter of € 1.80 / € 1.45, 1 kWh costs € 0.19 kWh / € 0.14 kWh. Solar energy is therefore quite expensive if you only use it a few days a year. But imagine not having any power in the neighborhood and having no alternative, this could be quite a good investment.

While solar power certainly is less polluting than fossil fuels, some problems do exist. Some manufacturing processes are associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride has been traced back to the production of solar panels. These are some of the most potent greenhouse gases and have many thousand times the impact on global warming compared to carbon dioxide. Transportation and installation of solar power systems can also indirectly cause pollution. The bottom line is this: there’s nothing that’s completely risk-free in the energy world, but solar power compares very favorably with all other technologies.
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Similar Projects
The Wearable Solar Project by Pauline van Dongen
The first project we have found was The Wearable Solar Project by Pauline van Dongen. What she did is that she processed solar panels into clothing, making it look futuristic. Solar cells have been constructed to capture solar light and convert it into electricity. Their internal structure is layered and resembles the stratified cells of the human body, which naturally interacts with sunlight. If a body is augmented with solar cells it will embody enough electrical power to become a real source of energy. For the Wearable Solar project, a coat and a dress have been designed placing solar cells close to the body. The two wool and leather prototypes comprise parts with solar cells which can be revealed when the sun shines or folded away and worn invisibly when they aren’t directly needed. The coat incorporates 48 rigid solar cells while the dress 72 flexible solar cells. Each of them, if worn in the full sun for an hour, can store enough energy to allow a typical smartphone to be 50% charged. The Sun is the biggest source of energy on earth and now that fossil fuels are depleting, it’s time we come up with a sustainable alternative.


Interview Pauline van Dongen
“Wearability is very important to my work because I am a fashion designer,” We’re dealing here with the human body and it’s not just a static body, it’s dealing with movement and expressions, a sensory surface so it’s very important to stress the wearability. We’re not very far away from people actually wearing these garments that I design. I think it’s important to see which technologies are really ready to be implemented, how people would deal with them, how people would feel in those clothes, what it could mean to them. And of course looking at the cost of these technologies. If you’re integrating 80 solar cells then of course you’re adding to the cost and you have to look at how much people are willing to pay for it.”

Atelier Teratoma “Picnic”
The second project we had found was “Picnic” by Atelier Teratoma. We thought of this as an very interesting project, because it also uses solar panels in their work. They have developed a picnic that you can charge by a solar panel. With this folding picnic set in the form of a backpack, you can charge enough energy to the park during your walk and then take your phone to charge and listen to music through speakers. The idea behind this set is about the social world we live in, people go crazy without their mobile phone.

Tommy Hilfiger Wearable Tech
This is a project from last year. They came with a range of jackets that had solar panels incorporated. The mission of Tommy Hilfiger was to make your portable charger wearable. So whenever you would be in need of a charger for example, that very important phone call, people could always reach you without having your phone dying on you. With the assistance of solar manufacturer Pvilion, the clothing label has launched a pair of jackets. For now they only designed one for men and one for women, so there isn’t much to choose from. It does, however, has an array of solar panels that will collect solar power for you so you can charge your gadgets. We thought this was kind of similar to the project of Pauline.


Solar fabrics
This project is about an optic solar cell. An international team of scientists have developed the world’s first fiber-optic solar cell. It is so small that it’s thinner than the width of a human hair and scalable to many meters in length. The silicon-based wire opens the possibility of a new generation of flexible fabrics capable of converting solar radiation into direct-current electricity.

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The world’s first solar-powered wearable, fitness & sleep trackers
There are many fitness & food trackers that you can use, mostly powered by just an ordinary battery. It’s not thought through very well, because every few days you need to switch out a battery or you need to put it out in order for it to charge. Ofcourse you’ll miss out on a few steps, calories or hours that you cannot track. This is very confusing for some people. Swarovski, however, made a huge step in a new revolution. Swarovski collaborated together with Misfit wearables to make the first fitness & sleep tracker that runs on solar power. The trackers include a clear crystal face and a violet crystal face. The violet tracker is the one that is solar powered by making the crystal bend the light onto the tiny solar cell lying underneath the crystal. The solar harvesting will only work with the violet crystal tracker because the violet color makes the light more intense. The clear crystal doesn’t produce much intensity. It takes 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure to power the wearable for a few days.

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Other ideas
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By immersing us in the world of flexible solar panels we have come to the following information. There are many different types of flexible solar panels and many different applications. At this moment the flexible solar panels are mainly used on boats and on the roofs of houses and apartments. What this means is that the solar panels will be charged up while driving or crossing sea. Therefore you don’t need to use additional power in the form of batteries or some kind – which only answers half of our research question. To really push the sale of batteries back it is necessary for products to change the normal batteries with rechargeable batteries. And by that we mean products such as a remote control, alarm clock, electric toothbrush and so on.

At this time we do not think the battery problem can be pushed back. Not necessarily because the panels are much more expensive than if you would use batteries or AC power, because we think this shouldn’t be a big problem, the money you will invest in a solar panel, will eventually pay back (within 4 years). It might be very practical, especially when there are no energy resources nearby or when power shuts down. You will always have an alternative that is cheaper than general batteries. Unfortunately, it’s not the case right now. The solar panels can only transmit energy from sunlight to the object or thing you want to give power to. So when connected directly, it will only work when sunlight is shines upon it. Which means you will always need sunlight to fully replace batteries with solar panels (unless ofcourse you saved or stored it somewhere, which you need a battery for – so then the problem is still not solved). If there is no sunlight, the solar panels will only charge lightly and not fully, which means if you need electricity it won’t work correctly. Solar power only works during the day time, and battery storage is still a few years away from being financially viable. To really benefit from solar power you need to be able to use most of the solar power as it is generated during the day, most of the time and unfortunately most people will be outdoors or at the office during the day. In our opinion it is not fully equipped to replace batteries yet.

The other main point to remember is that it is often quite easy these days to put appliances and pool pumps to run on timers. The 5 main examples are pool pumps, air conditioning/heating, the washing machine, the dryer and the dish washer. If you are able to run any or all of these on timer during the day when the sun is shining, it is not only possible to maximize the benefit of a smaller system, but you may be able to justify a much larger system, especially at the moment with low system prices and significant government rebates.

So, either it’s on a roof, tent, boat or clothing item the energy generated is only useful when you’re on the road or outdoors a lot. It is connected through a USB-portal, which makes it almost impossible to charge it without sunlight. It would be useful for example, soldiers or construction workers that work during the day. They can use their walky-talky, cellphones and/or maps using the flexible solar panels incorporated in their clothing, but not during the night.

12650386_10153275216611937_1678685634_nSanne (Product Design, 2nd year), Fleur (Lifestyle & Design, 2nd year)