Polyurethanes are an incredibly versatile and useful family of materials. By altering the raw ingredients, additives and manufacturing processes these materials can be customized to perfectly suit a wide range of product applications including foams, fibers, coatings, elastomers and more. But the preparation and usage of polyurethanes comes with an equally wide range of serious drawbacks, including threats to human health and environmental hazards.
Almost all polyurethanes in use today are produced using petroleum-based oils, and this foundation is partly responsible for the health and environmental concerns. Checkerspot is a San Francisco Bay area materials innovation biotech, and they're on a mission to get algae-based polyurethane casting resins into the hands of as many designers, makers and product developers as they can.
Today Checkerspot just released their new Pollinator™ Kit, a polyurethane casting sampler containing resin, pigment, a cup, mixing stick and instructions on how to cast your own parts using their algal materials. The environmental footprint of the kit was minimized while maximizing the user experience, including lightweight and user-friendly packaging. The polyurethane and pigment included in the kit are derived from algae. Even the ink used to print the packaging is algae-based. The mixing stick itself is cast from the Pollinator Series materials, doubling as a sample of the cured, unpigmented resin.
Checkerspot is targeting the DIY and designer crowd as a way to get their product directly into the hands of people who are creating new products, and are looking for materials that are more sustainable than what is currently available.
"Historically, product designers, hobbyists, and artists have been limited by the materials available to them from commodity-based suppliers. The Pollinator Kit is bringing these biomanufactured materials straight to their workshop, garage, or design studio, and empowering people who are hungry for a better way to make products where they are" said Charles Dimmler, CEO and co-founder of Checkerspot.
"We are seeding these new, sustainable materials from the grassroots level, where we think creativity grows best," said Dimmler.
The Checkerspot website has more information on their materials and processes. They've also launched Wonder Alpine, a consumer-facing ski and snowboard brand whose product line uses specially formulated bio-materials engineered for performance on the snow.
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