Milk cartons get a second life as a 3D printed bench in Tuscany – 3DPrint.com

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As one of Italy’s ‘città d’arte’ (or cities of art), Lucca is surrounded by its intact Renaissance city walls and a well-preserved historic center that makes this Tuscan spot the one of the most beautiful in northern Italy. Described as “the land of princes and poets”, the charm of Lucca is the substance of centuries-old stories. Now, thanks to a new 3D printing project, old meets new, as a team of architects, engineers and designers have installed a one-of-a-kind bench printed with recycled plastic from cardboard boxes. milk and other similar plastics.

Adorning the landscape of this traditional town, the 3D printed bench is so much more than meets the eye. Not only is it a symbol of the potential of 3D printing technology, but a testament to what can be achieved with recycled materials. In addition, this project, which is called Urban Safety Everyday or USE, is the result of a master’s thesis by architect Giulia Del Grande and her collaboration with R3direct, a local startup that designs and prints 3D furniture. ; Lucart, one of Europe’s largest producers of machine-made glossy paper for flexible packaging; and the city of Lucca.

Public furniture 3D printed with recycled plastic has been installed in the Italian city of Lucca. Image courtesy of R3direct.

Inaugurated in time for World Recycling Day on March 18, 2022, the 3D-printed public furniture has a functional feel as it seats up to four people but retains the city’s local charm thanks to its central arrangement of flowers from the two sides. In addition to this, the original purpose of the furniture is to cleverly conceal traffic blockages (otherwise known as “Jersey Barriers”) which are used to keep cars in their lanes and prevent car bombs and other terrorist threats. .

Italy has tightened security in recent years, installing concrete barriers between pedestrian areas and motor vehicle traffic in many cities. The USE is the first prototype of a bench that slides over the top of the barrier, and since it was installed in the historic center of the city, it is already part of the daily life of its inhabitants.

Concrete barriers concealed under a bench

In a social media post on LinkedIn, Del Grande explains that “the project aims to provide functionality and integration in the context of elements related to security management and which are commonly installed at events or exhibitions. “.

The USE is made from 3,300 Tetra Pak beverage cartons sourced from the city’s Lucart paper mill, then recycled to create material for 3D printing. Even though Tetra Pak is a recyclable material, it is not the easiest to reuse. Separating plastic, paper and aluminum layers requires specialized plants and processes. Fortunately, Lucart’s factories process beverage cartons by separating cellulose fibers from polymers and aluminum, which can then be reused as a raw material for manufacturing.

Public furniture printed in 3D with recycled plastic installed in the Italian city of Lucca.

Public furniture 3D printed with recycled plastic has been installed in the Italian city of Lucca. Image courtesy of R3direct.

Once the plastic was recovered from the processing of beverage cartons, R3direct used 3D printing technology to transform it into an innovative bench that “covers” and hides the unbreakable concrete barrier of the historic center of Lucca.

USE designer and R3direct co-founder Stefano Giovacchini said this local circular economy project could become an example of global actions. However, this is not a new concept for Giovacchini, who has been focused on a mission to recover post-consumer plastic and use it to make beautiful and durable objects.

Specializing in product design and 3D printing throughout his career, Giovacchini created a startup that would leverage technology to develop flexible, cost-effective, and scalable solutions. The results are objects like USE, valuable, durable and long-lasting. Products that could become what the company describes as “icons of a contemporary concept of value and luxury”.

According to R3direct, the team was the first in Europe to use this material for 3D printing. Still, the result was so good that the city has already ordered and plans to install more 3D-printed benches, just like USE, to cover other bollards and serve as seating at city events.

Public furniture printed in 3D with recycled plastic installed in the Italian city of Lucca.

Public furniture 3D printed with recycled plastic has been installed in the Italian city of Lucca. Image courtesy of R3direct.

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