The AMP makers collective has run over 35 workshops to date around the theme of transforming the Agbogbloshie scrap and recycling ecosystem into a network for distributed manufacturing and digital fabrication.
Here is a list of the main events held as part of the AMP series of informal maker workshops to build the future of Agbogbloshie:
Making a mobile oven, or mini-kiln; for melting plastics originally but whatever you need to bake. Pick or make the right caster wheels for the sort of mobility mini-kiln usage requires.
Plastics constitute a significant portion of the Agbogbloshie waste stream, moving through stages of collection, sorting (by type and colour), cleaning, shredding and even in some cases molding into pellets. (See Plastics blog post). With at least 7 micro-factories by our count, Agbogbloshie is a key part of the plastic recycling industry in Ghana, and integrally interconnected with both local and global production cycles. To date, the failure of Agbogbloshie’s industrial ecosystem to add value to plastic material recycled on-site is a lost opportunity for local manufacturing.
Building on our experiments with plastic during AMPQAMP and drawing on the knowledge and expertise of oven fabricators based on the ground in Agbogbloshie, we are now co-designing and prototyping a mini-kiln. This week, William Mensah completed fabrication of the first prototype in Accra Timber Market,adjacent to Agbogbloshie. The mini-kiln fits the standard module of the AMP spacecraft and is one of the first tools from the AMP tool-set developed to plug into the community workshop.
The prototype, is composed essentially of a frame of angle bars, inner and outer layers of sheet metal with a layer of what is locally called “fibre” (PUR foam insulation sourced from air-conditioner dismantling). We didn’t finish until evening, but couldn’t wait to test. Hence using shredded plastics from Agbogbloshie, we made new recycled plastic tiles, heating the the plastics to their melting point, and allowing them to cool. We intend to carry out carry more of such low-high tech plastic experiments soon in our spacecraft. Stay tuned for more and be sure to share with us, your innovative ideas regarding plastic recycling.
+Need to add chimney, temperature gauge, and calibrated gas control.
+Cost compare with 2-module wide unit, cylindrical drum cast concrete or clay insulated.
+Link with rotational plastics moulding machine:feedback-enabled temperature controls.
For many designers across the globe, language (words) form the bedrock of design thinking: “Words are tools for architectural design; for the development of design intent or strategy, as well as construct the ideas that drive its creation” (Eckler, 2012) .
The Agbogbloshie makerspace, is essentially, a community “toolbox” for Agbogbloshie. It was conceived as a spacecraft. This choice of a word served both as a starting point and driver for the design. With AMP co-pi DK Osseo-Asare as the lead on the design team, the AMP spacecraft was designed with mobility in mind, as are other crafts like an air craft, or even space faring vehicles (spacecrafts). As a community kiosk with hand tools, the idea of crafting (making with ones hands) was pivotal in addition to the fact that, these tools enable the spacecraft to replicate itself. Hence it can be read as a place where space is crafted.
Beyond these, the influence of space travel is relevant to the Agbogbloshie makerspace. Here, the toxic electronic landscape which is unfavourable for human habitation is likened to an extra-terrestrial planetary body. Hence, the arrival of a spacecraft could imply the commencement of a process of terraforming–the hypothetical notion that, in order to be habitable and/or conducive for human habitation, atmospheres and ecology of other planets can be modified. From this point of view, the arrival of the AMP spacecraft in Agbogbloshie is the commencement of a process of spatial change or transformation, a notion which is itself deeply related to crafts (vehicles).
In summary, the spacecraft is:
Mobile and is like other crafts
A place for making (crafting)
A workshop for crafting space due to its self replicating ability
And a first step towards the spatial transformation of the Agbogbloshie landscape
In terms of the structure, the AMP spacecraft is modular and has a frame consisting of 12 octet trusses per module. (See video here). Each octet truss is made up of steel angle bars, flat plates and rods, which form a series of half octahedra all welded together into a singular structural unit. The intention is to fill in the structural frame with materials sourced from within the Agbogbloshie landscape such as old refrigerator doors, which will constitute composite “precast” insulated panels.
For the past three weeks week as part of AMPQAMP, the process of crafting the first module of the spacecraft continued starting in Hub Accra with theorizing and brainstorming about the spacecrafts systems and components, and ending in Kokrobite with the fabriacation of the first full scale octet truss, after several prototypes and mockups. It was a long tedious and yet highly exciting process where our desire for high level of precision and accuracy meant cutting and re-cutting, measuring and re-measuring, until we arrived at fairly satisfactory results.
Thanks to master welder Badu and his assistant, we had a fruitful learning experience. Their process was particularly interesting to us because, they used a grinder that was itself “e-waste” sourced from Agbogbloshie. As a space of convergence, the spacecraft which is a place for interaction and sharing (and will exist both as a tangible place, and a fully functional virtual platform) will soon land in Agbogbloshie. Stay tuned!!!
1. Eckler, F.J 2012, “Language of Space and Form: Generative Terms for Architecture”, John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey, page 1.
#ampqamp14 ran June through August, 2014 at the Kokrobitey Institute, Hub Accra (now Impact Hub Accra) and the Agbogbloshie scrapyard, in collaboration with Togo’s Wɔɛlab. #ampqamp14 focused on M&D (Makers & Development, a practical hands-on approach to R&D) for the spacecraft, while #ampqamp15 focused on codesign of the AMP app.
This was the first time we welded a complete full-length octet truss. Rudimentary structural tests after fabrication demonstrated good performance/strength but unacceptable dimensional tolerance (i.e. it was strong, but not precise).
Special thanks to Chamil, master maker at the Kokrobitey Institute makerspace, who suggested to develop a 2d truss jig (to hold 1in angle bar frame straight and square while welding) and square pyramid jig (to enable standardized production welding of square pyramids, as a component for full octet truss).
First weeek =) of#ampqamp14 started at Hub Accra by a discussion of AMP’s objectives for the three coming weeeks: to co-design and build with AMP makers (comprising of STEAM students and graduates and eventually e-waste workers) a module of the spacecraft–AMP’s makerspace–and share its progress with the community in Agbogbloshie.
Participants started discussing the design of the spacecraft, its frame and interior frame comprising of an octet truss system, prefab panels, soft and roof systems. We then developed a critical path for each system so to know what to do at each step of the way until we build the spacecraft. The brainstorming sessions were very intensive, with some of the participants sketching/drawing the various concepts related to the spacecraft.
By the second day we enthusiastically produced fully developed critical paths, identified and quantified in terms of duration and dependency of the various tasks
We also prepared for the first workshop ahead, the plastic workshop to be carried out at the Rex Cinema in collaboration with Brad Marley and Efya from the POLY Bank GH organization. In preparation for the workshop, we conducted background research on the physical properties, melting methods and stewing methods. We sourced the plastic–shredded-PET (polyethylene therephatlate) old plastic bottles and stewed shredded-PP (polypropylene)–and a number of molds from Agbogbloshie. This was also a good occasion to share our process with the Agbogbloshie community. This is a picture of the tools we brought to the Rex Cinema to conduct our experiments.
The Rex is an open-air cinema, a wonderful space to experiment within. There, young Ghana makers were busy melting, stewing and molding different types of plastics and exploring the production of architectural parts, panels, brick or tiles, made of recycled plastic. Sam and Idrissou, Agbogbloshie community agents, helped with burning the charcoal.. They were far more skilled than us!
Below are some of the observations from the experiment:
We observed that the PET melting process was very slow and began really late, also at temperatures slightly higher than 260◦c, which is the theoretical melting point value. PET began to char and thus underwent incomplete carbonation and changing color from a transparent blue color a marble brown colored plastic. PP however, started melting at a lower temperature and rather melted over a larger temperature range and also produced a smooth finish.
We may have over heated the PET plastics, which led to the formation of a brittle-porous tile.
Contributing factors to such brittleness of the plastic panel are associated to the cooling rate and media and this caused cracks.
Also, the temperature of the charcoal flame could not be controlled and hence over heating ensued.
It was also observed that stewing of PET did not work. This is probably due to the fact that it has a high melting temperature and the oil doing not facilitate that phenomenon.
PP plastics however work well with stewing in oil. From the experiment, we formed a very strong mold which can be used for wall panels, table tops and many others.