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Board 92: MAKER: Developing Compostable Composites: A Multidisciplinary Approach Toward Sustainable Material Adoption

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Manufacturing Division Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Louise Rosanna Manfredi Syracuse University

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Dr. Manfredi holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (2011) and a BDes in Product Design (2006) from the University of Leeds, UK.

Dr. Manfredi’s primary research interest centers on sustainable product development, and how the decisions designers and engineers make affect the environment during the life cycle of these products. She is particularly focused on the development of sustainable/environmentally conscious toolkit which give future designers access to cutting-edge techniques in product development and manufacture.

Louise is also interested in the assessment and development of environmentally conscious materials in the prototyping phase of product development.

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Engineering design is a human-centric discipline that seeks to produce products, services, and systems that enrich and improve people’s lives. Designers can influence the way we feel about ourselves, how we interact with others, and how we feel about the world around us. Conversely, we can create negative effects; most notably, landfill waste. With a burgeoning world population, much attention is focused on how we sustainably use our ever-decreasing supply of materials. This project was framed within the context of low-cost flatpack furniture, which is typically made from non-biodegradable particle board. End-of-life for particleboard is landfill or incineration.

The overarching research goal of this project was to determine whether post-consumer paper and a bioplastic binder were suitable for the creation of a more environmentally friendly composite (than its traditional particleboard counterpart) that has future potential to be composted with food waste. Specifically, we aimed to (1) empirically test how this composite performs under standard material testing methods in comparison to a low-density particleboard, (2) determine to what extent these composites can be produced and used without the need for specialist equipment, and (3) begin to investigate the triple bottom line (social, environmental and financial) though various life cycle analysis methods. From the environmental perspective, employing a circular design approach (utilizing waste from other industries, in this case, used paper) the environmental question becomes: can we create a material of ‘value’ that makes some progress towards reducing manufacturing carbon emission?

The novelty of this research lies in the pairing of mechanical material testing with usability testing with research study participants who might work with novel materials. Undergraduate design students were recruited to evaluate composite material samples for ease machining and fastening.

Manfredi, L. R. (2019, June), Board 92: MAKER: Developing Compostable Composites: A Multidisciplinary Approach Toward Sustainable Material Adoption Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32461

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