As designers, we all want our designs to last forever but we are also beginning to see what a terrifying world it would be if everything we create really did last forever. The permanence of plastics has gone from a dream to a nightmare where literally everything that we have made out of plastic that hasn’t been recycled or burned will remain in its current state for 1000’s of years. Luckily, there is hope on the horizon in the form of Arboform, a 100% biodegradable thermoplastic made of lignen, the structural part of a plant’s cell wall and a waste product of paper manufacturing.
Plastic Qualities + Wood Properties
Arboform was created by two german scientists, Helmut Nägele and Jürgen Pfitzer in 1996. Through their company Tecnaro, they have created over 900 variations of the material and are continuing to develop more. Arboform comes in pellet, sheet, and stock forms and has been used in the production of designer high heels, speakers and, luxury vehicle interiors. Recently they have developed a version called liquid wood for toymakers and have produced an eco-friendly nativity set just in time for the holidays. Arboform has been used in the production of designer shoes, high end speakers and Tecnaro is currently working with Porsche to create more sustainable vehicle interiors.
The material’s qualities are quite impressive because it marries the structural stability and molding capabilities of thermoplastics with the ecological, acoustic and visual properties of wood into a sustainable and affordable material that outperforms many hydrocarbon polymers (here’s a chart from Tecnaro if you want to get specific).
So maybe instead of our designs lasting forever, Arboform will allow them to return to the Earth from whence they came after they serve their purpose. For more info, be sure to take a look at their Material Overview PDF.
(Images via Tecnaro)