3D Printing in Arctic Communities

3D Printing in Arctic Communities

Plastic pollution in parks and marine protected areas, and the exorbitant cost of importing goods to the north are major issues facing Arctic communities today.  Our project aims to address these issues by transforming waste into useful goods for Arctic communities with the help of 3D printing technology. In Hay River, we will explore gelatin bioplastic as a reusable mold making material.  In Cambridge Bay, we will work in collaboration with the Canadian High Arctic Research Centre to prototype making household items and sustainable packaging from gelatin-based biomaterials and local mineral composites.  Gelatin can be sourced from animal waste and mixed with minerals, waste coffee grounds, or shredded paper to create biodegradable plastics and composite materials. By 3D printing custom molds for these materials, we aim to enable the community to create a wide variety of biodegradable plastics products. These can substitute for petrochemical plastics products that persist as pollutants in communities, parks, and marine protected areas.  Furthermore, creating useful objects with the help of 3D printing from locally-produced bioplastics has the potential to replace plastic goods made from petrochemicals that are difficult to dispose of and costly to import.

This project was put together by SOI alum Alysia Garmulewicz  (Antarctic 2002 & Arctic 2005) with the support of SOI alumni Cassandra Elphinstone (Arctic 2011) and Andrew Xu (Arctic 2015).

Alysia Garmulewicz
Alysia Garmulewicz is an Associate Professor of Circular Economy Innovation at the University of Santiago in Chile.  She is an International Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Alysia works with the global Fab Lab network in researching digital fabrication and the circular economy, with a focus on local materials for 3D printing.  She is a Rhodes Scholar and has a Ph.D. in Management Research from the University of Oxford. Alysia participated on the Students on Ice 2002 Antarctic expedition and 2005 Arctic expedition, and has been active in encouraging youth action on climate change nationally and internationally.  

Cassandra Elphinstone
Cassandra recently graduated with a BSc in Honours Conservation Biology at the University of British Columbia.  In 2011, while participating in a Students On Ice (SOI) Arctic expedition, she discovered her fascination with Arctic and alpine regions. Since then, Cassandra has written policy papers for the Youth Arctic Coalition and the SOI Rio +20 Summit Delegation. As founder of GAIAactivism, a non-profit organization, she organized communities from North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe into a 2012 “Day of Gathering”. During the summer of 2013, she studied the Costa Rican dry tropical rainforest adjacent to a sea turtle nesting beach and wrote a draft proposal to the government encouraging them to protect the area as a National Reserve.  For the last four summers (2014-17) she has worked as a field assistant/graduate student at Alexandra Fiord on Ellesmere Island studying the effects of climate change on the tundra ecosystem. In the future, Cassandra plans to continue with her interest in Arctic conservation.

Andrew Xu
Andrew is an undergraduate student studying Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. The program focuses on both the hardware and software aspects of the technological world with a focus on robotics and control surfaces. In the summer of 2014, Andrew was fortunate to venture into the startup world designing a garbage bin that could autonomously sort waste. The project demonstrated one of endless possibilities in utilizing technological advancements for environmental conservation. The 2015 Arctic Expedition showed Andrew a new array of issues that can be solved and thus he has continuously pursued opportunities to combine his love for technology and helping the environment since then.

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