Omaha Mini Maker Faire: Recycle All the Things

A young maker named [Allie] drew a lot of attention at the 2nd annual Omaha Mini Maker Faire. Her booth was full of the various creations she has designed and built herself throughout the course of her short life. The biggest draw was her green design dollhouse, which focuses on environmentally friendly living. With the exception of the LEDs lighting the interior, some tape, and the requisite bit of hot glue, the entire structure and its contents were made from recycled materials.

green-dollhouse-thumbThe cardboard structure features a kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, and attic. Every piece of furniture and all the decorations are made from salvaged materials and packaging. One side of the roof holds a Snap Circuits board with a solar panel that powers some blue LEDs on the bedroom wall. [Allie] poured water down the other side of the roof to demonstrate the rain water collection system. The house’s rain barrel was made from a grated parmesan cheese container, which is perfectly designed for the airline tubing running into it from the recycled plastic guttering.

owl-says-noOne of [Allie]’s other projects is a disagreeable owl fashioned from cardboard and a salvaged canister. Hidden away beneath the owl’s platform lies a simple gear system attached to a key on the front. Turning the key causes the owl’s head to swivel back and forth. We tried to make it spin all the way around, but the full range of motion is about 270 degrees. She also brought Mountain Dew, a hummingbird model made from a spark plug and other metal bits and bobs, including a pair of soda can wings.

mountain-dew-hummingbirdIn addition to her crafty skills, [Allie] is one well-spoken tween. She was more than happy to discuss her creations in detail to anyone who would listen, which included at least two local journalists and this impressed reporter. We learned through a bit of light research that a robot [Allie] built a few years ago inspired a British toy company to produce a new doll, the Robot Girl Lottie. She’s an inspiration to makers of all ages.

Recycled Factory Recycles Soda Bottles

All over the world, mountains of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics are available for recycling in the form of soda bottles. And wherever there is enough cheap raw material, a market is sure to emerge for it. One brilliant inventor in Brazil has decided to capitalize on this market by building a magnificent factory to turn PET bottles into threads, rope, and other products.

Not a word of English is spoken in the video, and our Portuguese stops at obrigado, but you don’t really need to understand what’s being said to know what’s going on. Built from what looks to be the running gear of several bicycles and motors from various cast-off appliances, our nameless genius’ machines slit the PET bottles into fine threads, winds the thread onto spools, and braids the threads into heavier cords. We love the whole home-brew vibe of the machines; especially clever is the hacked desk calculator wired to a microswitch to count revolutions, and the salvaged auto jack used to build a press for forming the broom heads. All in all it’s a pretty amazing little factory cranking out useful products from zero-cost raw material.

We’d love to have more context about what’s being said in the video, so we’ll put this one out there for our Portuguese-speaking readers. Maybe we can get a partial translation in the comments? If so, then obrigado.

[Thanks W4RIS]

Super Simple Way to Re-use Plastic Bottles

One of our tipsters just sent in a fascinatingly simple trick for re-using plastic bottles and turning them into useful plastic string. It’s in Russian but between the translated English subtitles and visual demonstration, it’s quite easy to understand.

YouTube DIY survivalist [Адвокат Егоров] makes a lot of really cool tutorial videos on anything from making knives, forming parts with heated PVC pipe, making rings out of coins, or even how to increase the yield of your potato farm (what?). In this one he shows us how to make a very simple jig using a small piece of aluminum extrusion which can slice a plastic bottle into long ribbons which can then be used for many different things.

The jig is adjustable and you can easily produce different widths of the ribbon with ease. Why would you want plastic ribbon? He uses it as twine for tying things (it’s very strong), as well as a grip for his tools — simply by wrapping it around the handle of something tightly, and then using a hot air gun, you can form it in place to create a plastic handle.

Again, the video is in Russian, but you can translate the subtitles — it kind of helps.

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Plastic Recycling at Home Promises a Revolution In Local Plastic Production

[Dave Hakkens] graduated from the Design Academy of Eindhoven and decided to try his hand at making affordable plastic recycling machines.

His reasoning?

“We recycle just 10% [of waste plastic],” says Hakkens. “I wondered why we recycle so little so I investigated it. I went to all these companies and I realized that they don’t really want to use recycled plastic. So I wanted to make my own tools so I could use recycled plastic locally.”

Typical plastic production, like injection molding, uses very large and expensive machines — so expensive that most of the time, companies don’t want to risk using inferior recycled plastic, as it might damage the machine, or slow production time. Not convinced that recycled plastic is “inferior”, [Dave] has built his own line of machines capable of making recycled plastic parts.

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