Scientific collaboration with Secondary School boosts printing of sustainable bioplastic

Winner of the “Lipor Special Award”, the project “PoppyInk – A sustainable ink” developed by Matilde Alves, Carolina Miranda, and Sofia Gomes, 11th and 12th-grade students from the Júlio Dinis Secondary School, Ovar, was presented to DEMaC in order to establish a collaboration that aims to produce the structure of a ballpoint pen through the incorporation of bioplastic filaments in a 3D printer.

The idea of creating sustainable writing material came up in a class environment after the students were confronted with the discarding of markers, which presented two problems: the waste of the non-reusable plastic structure and the toxicity of the ink.

In this context, and after the previous contact with Paula Vilarinho, a professor at DEMaC, the students saw the possibility of experimentally developing, in the DEMaC’s Maker’s Lab, a bioplastic based on discarded coffee grounds, using additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques to create the internal and external structure of the pen. 

In order to solve the toxicity of marker ink, Matilde, Carolina, and Sofia created the fully sustainable “PoppyInk” brand of pigments made initially with poppy petals and later with other natural pigments such as zucchini and green apple peels (green coloring), potato tomatoes (brownish coloring) and coffee grounds.

The “Lipor Special Prize” was awarded to Matilde Alves, Carolina Miranda, and Sofia Gomes on the occasion of the 16th National Science Exhibition of the 30th National Contest for Young Scientists.

This contest is part of the Gera Talentos Project, a structuring program to support qualified and creative entrepreneurship, promoted by the Youth Foundation, which aims to foster, recognize, distinguish, and reward innovation, creativity, and talent of young scientists and entrepreneurs.