PET MINI is an Open Source, Recycled Electric Skateboard for urban transportation. With the goal to end stressful commutes while simultaneously giving you the perfect last mile recycled green vehicle.
João Leão – Product Designer, Co-founder of VIVALab and Founder of Maker Island Rui Mendonça – Designer and University Professor at Faculty of Fine Arts in Porto Dave Hakkens – Product Designer and Founder of Precious Plastic
As in every design endeavour it all started with a problem, In fact two of them. The first encountered problem was the plastic waste, that designer João Leão encountered every day on the beaches of Porto that washes to the shore from all-over the world. The second problem consisted on the hectic commutes of endless hour's that he lives in the streets of Porto. Public transportation, unfortunately, isn't an option as they aren't adapting to the exponential increase of users and don't yet have links to major areas of the city. The solution? Create a fast-personal transportation that uses recycled thermoplastics as the main manufacturing material.
PET MINI was developed based on the growing importance of creating participatory approaches to design. With the increasing access to digital fabrication tools through Fab Labs, and information through the internet, the Maker and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movements are booming. We must rethink how we design and manufacture the products of the future through distributed approaches and bringing the user and industry closer to the design process.
This opens the possibility to use Open Designas a development tool and Digital Fabrication (Fab Labs) as a manufacturing process, opposed to the normal industrial process for two main reasons: One - digital Fabrication (Fab Labs) allow the personalization of products costume made to the needs and tastes of customers; Two - with the increasing number of Fab Labs worldwide and the ease of access to these innovative tools we can decrease the production and transportation impact generated by traditional industrial processes through distributed manufacturing.
Fab Labs or Digital Fabrication Laboratories are a concept born at MIT's Centre for Bits and Atoms (CBA) with more than 1600 active laboratories spread worldwide. A Fab Lab is a high-tech laboratory and workshop where a common person can design and make (almost) anything, from products to machines or even houses.
This project was developed in collaboration with a local Fab Lab, VIVA Lab, a creative hub dedicated to the areas of Education, Design and Innovation that is building a community for social innovation. And Precious Plastic, a project developed by product designer Dave Hakkens that is building a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution. All the tool's, knowledge and techniques are shared online, for free.
Leão began his design process by first experimenting with the most common types of plastic waste available (ABS, PP, PET HDPE), using the Precious Plastic machines, as a way to understand the mechanical and aesthetic properties of such materials, exploring if this materials would be suitable to develop a e-skateboard deck. With these analyses it was concluded that the best plastic was HDPE and the plastic sheets were manufactured by the Precious Plastic team using the V4 machines. He proceeded to identify the main mechanical and electronic parts required to build a e-skate, understanding which parts would be off-the-shelf, locally designed and manufactured or based in open designs. Autodesk's Fusion 360 was the CAD software used due to its parametric nature and fast paced modelling system that allow the rapid prototyping of each part and modifications on the fly.
Leão took inspiration from the anatomy of an Armadillo for the electronics enclosure, by designing a series of modular pieces along the bottom of the board. This would allow both the protection of the electronic components but would also maintain the flexibility of the deck, giving it the comfortable ride necessary for the city typology that other commercial solutions lose.
For the mechanical parts the components for the drive train, the motor mounts were designed and manufactured locally at VIVALAb and the pulley system were based on open design files available in Thingiverse. The recycled deck was 3D-CNC milled at VIVA Lab using
The Specs? Built with under 500€ in materials and prototyping, Weighing 8kg, with its smaller 75 cm long size it becomes easier to transport, with a top speed of 35 km/h, a range of 36km and charging time of 1-hour 50min, the PET MINI is comparative, in specs, design and parts, to other commercial electric skateboards worth over 1600€.
PET MINI, seeks to inspire future creatives to experiment the broad possibilities using recycled thermoplastics and bring on the development of a variety of different products, raising awareness on the importance of taking action to this global problem and how one key tool, such as digital fabrication and the open source philosophy, can boost innovative solutions both at a local and a global level.
The PET MINI is a constantly incomplete design, inspired by the concept of an "Open city", it's incompleteness invites further evolution; it's open philosophy generates community; it stimulates dialogue on the theme of development and circular economy. Dialogues that invite designers to continuously rediscover new tools and materials that surround the designers environment, to stimulate a constant feeling of amazement by changing the way we perceive and understand our surroundings and setting up a connection to the problem by building a sense of meaning and purpose.
If you want to create your own, learn from the project or improve it get the open design files here. They will be released together with the Precious Plastic V4.
If you are looking to collaborate with the designer or if you have any questions head to his website.