Fishing nets turned into 3D printed shells

In a new project called Second Nature, Rotterdam based research and design studio The New Raw in collaboration with Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation in Athens aims to raise awareness of marine plastic pollution by 3D printing shells and objects from collected discarded fishing nets.

Plastic is taking over our oceans, with estimations that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. The most deadly ocean debris is made up of abandoned fishing nets, also called ghost nets. These nets, either accidentally left behind or deliberately dumped, float around in the ocean, almost undetectable to sea creatures, which become entangled with them.

The New Raw’s project began in Greece, where the design duo worked with local fishermen and divers to collect discarded synthetic fishing nets. Back on land, the nets were separated into their different components: nets, ropes, floaters and weights. The material is then processed in a grinder and extruded into colourful and textured filaments for 3D printing.

The project studied five edible specimen of Mediterranean seashells that are currently protected due to intensive fishing. The textured surfaces are inspired by natural patterns emerging on the external layer of seashells.

“By nature, seashell geometry suits the layer-by-layer methods of 3D printing technologies,” The New Raw states. “Rather than replicating their natural shapes, the 3D printed version represents their geographically displaced entity, and embodies current environmental challenges.”

In addition to the symbolic seashells, the design studio also created a series of colourful tableware to connect users to the major environmental problem. The project is ongoing and this summer, the design studio will release a new collection of objects.

The designers were accompanied in their research by award-winning documentary filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki, who created a 10-minute short film that reveals how marine plastic can become the raw material for a new circular economy. The journey takes place in the small Greek village of Galaxidi, where The New Raw initially set up their mobile 3D printing and recycling lab. The short film can be seen here.

Second Nature is not The New Raw’s first venture with upcycled materials. In the project Print Your City!, the designers used domestic plastic waste to 3D print public furniture, which you can read more about here.

Photos: Marily Konstantinopoulou, Javier Sirvent, The New Raw