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SUSTAIN Lincolnshire is an initiative led by Lincolnshire County Council to promote and support resource efficiency amongst small and medium enterprises in Lincolnshire. This case study and our online information are intended to help manufacturers become more resource efficient, avoid unnecessary costs, make savings, whilst maintaining a sustainable theme.

Becoming smarter in the way a company carries out its purchasing of products and services will have a direct effect on profitability, and create a much better awareness in the sustainable use of resources, thus reducing waste in process, material and services.

Smart and Sustainable Purchasing advice is being delivered by Oakwell Management Services Limited as part of Lincolnshire County Councils SUSTAIN Lincolnshire Programme. For further information and support contact SUSTAIN Lincolnshire on 01522 589964 or email ray@oakwellmanagement.co.uk.

Success stories – reducing costs and increasing profits …

Business challenge

Kosine is a research and development company established in 2004 that specialises in short-run plastic injection moulding projects. Assisting many local entrepreneurs and inventors to move their ideas forward, Kosine has focused on finding ways to produce saleable quality parts at the lowest possible costs. Projects have ranged from the internationally successful rapstrap® tie strips to a range of garden sundries produced from recycled plastic milk bottles and tops.

Encountering increasing demand for assistance, Kosine has identified a need to lower the entry barriers for commercial injection moulding. The traditional route has been to commission prototype moulds through an established toolmaker, a route that can cost several thousand pounds and take several weeks to complete per iteration. This is generally prohibitively expensive for the garage entrepreneur.

In recent years there has been a steady uptake by amateurs of cheap home CNC machines, including milling machines, laser cutters and 3D-printers. This has enabled hobbyists to produce small quantities of products which can be sold for a modest profit, however these systems are slow and do not allow for up-scaling.

Using the same automation and control techniques, Kosine believes the next stage is to progress from home manufacturing to home mass-production with the development of a small but capable injection moulding machine. Such a machine would not only reduce the costs of bringing a product to market, but also reduce the production costs to near zero by drawing on the discarded plastic that currently enters the waste stream.

How did we help?

Cost avoidance and savings

As this is a piece of demonstration equipment, there is no initial savings for Kosine from the investment. However by investing in the development of affordable technology that will be able to recycle domestic waste, demonstrations of the technology involved to SME’s, educational establishments, and environmental bodies it will point the way to how technology of this kind can be environmentally friendly.

Key achievements

With a growing number of public workshops and maker-spaces around the country, the interest in a low cost injection moulding system is expected to be considerable. Many have already embraced 3D-printers and laser cutters, and with a combined UK membership numbered in the thousands, there is a large and well established community ready to engage with this project.

Additionally, since the core design and software are provided open source, the same community is encouraged to develop the moulding system further. Ultimately this will allow its full potential to be unleashed, and let anyone with a suitable idea produce and sell it in a very affordable way.

What they did…

• Demonstrated the viability of producing low cost mould-tools for use with injection moulding machines using currently available “DIY” CNC machines.

• Developed an initial demonstration prototype table-top injection moulding machine to evaluate the necessary requirements for a fully functional system. The system is also intended to function as a basic extruder for the production of 3D-printer filaments. (Such filaments currently cost around £30 per kg, whereas the raw material costs less than £3 per kg.)

• Developed the control electronics and software interface to run the moulding machine using standard open source tools.

• Identified common sources of usable plastics from general domestic waste which can be processed into feedstock for the moulding machine.

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