Think on this: in the time it takes you to take a swig from a plastic bottle, a staggering 20,000 of them are thrown away. Worldwide, there are more than 1,300,000,000 bottles sold every day, with only 6% of them being recycled and many ending up in the oceans.
Manufacturers in the Netherlands have hit upon an innovative solution to bring a second life to plastic bottles by transforming them into PET Felt. PET—or polyethylene terephthalate, to use its technical name—is a thermoplastic polymer resin that allows manufacturers to utilise plastic waste in their products, turning it into a sustainable, versatile, and durable material that can be moulded into any shape.
Bottles—in some cases fished from the canals of Amsterdam—arrive to the recycling centres in 250kg densely pressed bales, that are teased apart, cleaned and sorted.
Next, the bottles move into a granulator machine that shreds them into 1cm flakes. Meanwhile, the granulator removes all remaining debris to produce pure PET flakes, ready for the next phase of their transformation.
The PET flakes now travel through an extruder, melting them and forming polyester fibres with a soft wool-like texture. Colour can be added at this point. The fibres are then cut into thin sheets to prepare them for felting.
The felting machine folds the fibre into layers and compresses it. Then, thousands of barbed needles stab the material, turning it into felt. Multiple felt sheets are next merged together to create a dense mat, ready for pressing.
In a single moulding action, the 3D pressing machine turns a sheet of felt into a sturdy form, preserving its soft wool-like texture. PET Felt can take any shape—chair shells, seats, and backs, dividers, lampshades, even tables! The felt also has excellent sound dampening properties, making it ideal for acoustic products such as wall panels and baffles.
The resultant products are innovative and sustainable. The possibilities are endless.
PET Products: Our Top Picks
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Plank is a natural wooden texture that can be combined in numerous ways. It comes in two rectangular sizes and is easily assembled and customised to create herringbone, basket weave, diagonal, or brick patterns.
Like the previously released Baux Tiles and Panels that we featured last year, Plank is made from a wood wool, cement and water mix. Whereas the tiles and panel products are coloured, Plank comes in only its natural colour which means it can be cut to size to fit any space in much the same way bricks are cut to a space.
A product we were introduced to recently were these versatile acoustic tiles from Swedish Company Baux. The tiles are available in a range of six shapes; Hexagon, Rectangle, Square, Parallelogram, Circle and Triangle, and are made from wood wool, cement and water. This wood fibre combination gives the product a heat-insulating, heat retaining and sound-absorbing structure. Cement provides strength, moisture resistance and class 1 fire protection. The stylish tiles come in a range of muted earthy colours that would suit any 2016 design scheme. Harvested from locally grown timber and produced in their forest factory the tiles are about as ‘carbon neutral’ as it’s possible to get!
For further flexibility Baux also produce a range of acoustic panels in the same material. Available in five patterns; Quilted, Check, Stripes, Lines and Diagonal, the panels are designed to be combined to mix and match and repeat into infinity.
Last month we featured an article on noise in the workplace and the demand this creates for acoustic products. One such product that rises to this challenge is the new Aircone from Swedish manufacturer Abstracta.
Aircone is a sound-absorbent partition with a simple & bold graphic design. The modules are assembled together using small plastic clips, and each module is angled and has a tapered shape. The pattern formed by combining several modules can be varied in a virtually infinite number of ways. The angles diffuse sound waves, and the product thus helps create a better sound environment. Aircone is made from compression-moulded fabric-covered fibre felt and is available in a range of colours. It can be hung from the ceiling or against the wall on an aluminium rail.
The challenge of providing the optimum level of acoustic performance in an office is one of those issues that everybody accepts is very important. Yet it has proved to be one of those intractable issues that suffers both from some important misperceptions and which also has to be balanced against other challenges when it comes to designing offices, not least the most significant trend of the past twenty or thirty years, namely the shift to open plan working. At the same time we have seen a shrinking of workstation footprints and the greater use of mobile phones and other technology. All of these changes have focused attention on workplace acoustics – currently one of the most talked about issues in the workplace, and visual privacy – one of the least talked about.