Plastic Experiments

Instruments and Equipment - Made in Agbogbloshie
Instruments and Equipment – Made in Agbogbloshie

As part of the AMPQAMP’s objective of building a spacecraft at Agbogbloshie for open source activities to take place, one of the activities was making tiles and panesl from recycled plastics to be used in the Spacecraft.

Plastics are everyday materials used domestically and industrially. Statistically speaking, about 72% of our household appliances have some plastic components, however it is not bio-degradable.

  • There are several types of plastics such as polyethylene theraphalate (PET), high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS).

The AMP team of scientists visited the Agbogbloshie to source plastics. Sam Sandow, an e-waste worker and member of AMP maker collective, Shaibu, a plastics recycler and other scrap dealers assisted with sourcing material. Their knowledge of the Agbogbloshie terrain helped the team navigate the space relatively faster, with successful acquisition of PP, HDPE, LDPE and PET from the plastics recyclers. Vendors weighed plastic material via digital scale.

  • Tinsmiths at Accra Timber Market and Agbogbloshie assembled custom aluminum molds per the teams specifications (20 x 20 cm). With expertise from producing breadpans, makers such as Mohammed then fashioned the molds by applying their working knowledge of pattern cutting, etc.
  • Team Poly-Science (Ivy, Michael, Maame and Rejoyce) experimented three methods of processing these plastics were considered namely: Melting, stewing and plastic impregnation.
  • Melting basically involves bringing the plastics to their respective melting temperature ranges; 250-260oC for PET, 160-170oC for PP, 130oC for HDPE, 110oC for LDPE and 240oC for PS.
  • Stewing however involve bring different plastics to temperatures close enough to their melting range temperature. Therefore causing the bond to loosen up enough just to enable free form molding
  • Plastics impregnation is a term used to describe the filling of air pores in porous materials with plastics, so as to improve their impermeability as well as strengthen them. To do this, one dissolves the plastics, PS in our case, in a solvent thinner or petrol. This form a colloidal solution for the incubation or impregnation. We used this method to produce water-proof paper and fabric.
Tiles made from 1. PET 2. PP 3. HDPE 4. PP 5. Incubated fabric 6. LDPE 7. PP 8. PP
Tiles made from 1. PET 2. PP 3. HDPE 4. PP 5. Inpregnated fabric 6. LDPE 7. PP 8. PP