26 Oct 2017

Creating sustainable manufacturing materials

From Nine To Noon, 9:27 am on 26 October 2017

Kim Pickering is an award-winning academic who is developing radical new sustainable manufacturing materials.

Professor Pickering of Waikato University's School of Engineering has been awarded a Royal Society medal for her work on creating new materials from natural products or waste.

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Photo: supplied

Imagine a household full of furniture and appliances made of hemp, flax, scrap plastic and cornmeal gluten or corn starch, Prof Pickering says it’s all possible.

In future, she says, no plastic should be needed to be produced, because new materials are being developed which are forever recyclable; whether they're from a natural bio-derived base or reclaimed.

Prof Pickering says her work on 3D printing is at a stage where they are making material that performs well structurally and is affordable.

She is now looking to develop better ways of aligning fibres, and then make them more water resistant.

One day, even houses and bridges could be made from a combination of recycled and bio- derived composites.

"We want to grow hemp - as far as the composite goes, there are a lot of applications there. Anything with glass fibre in it, we could be replacing that."