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Chip[s] Board, The Material

Chip[s] Board is an eco-friendly and toxin-free alternative to chipboard and MDF made using potato waste.

A Potato Waste Product

The potato angle appeared favourable as they held a wider set of promising ingredients (when compared to other vegetables and organic matter), and an available abundance of chip manufacturing peel and waste.

Circular Design Model

Chip[s] Board makes use of circular economy principles by using “waste” that would otherwise be disposed of as their primary material.

Manufacturing Chip[s] Board

Chip[s] Board is created using a method similar to that of MDF and incorporates heating and pressing mechanisms to finish the product.

Chip[s] Board lifespan

The team also wants to develop ranges of the material with different lifespans i.e. some that last 1-5 years for short-term while other products last 5 plus years.

Button Prototype

The company’s second material, a bioplastic called Parblex is steadily gaining traction in the fashion world and is being prototyped as buttons and glasses frames.

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Lab 10 Oct 2018

Made from potato waste, Chip[s] Board is the eco-friendly alternative to chipboard and MDF

CQ speaks to the team behind Chip[s] Board, a new biomaterial similar to medium density fiberboard (MDF) and made from potato waste. The simple potato is a vegetable rich in starch that can be utilised to make bioplastic or biodegradable plastic. Through research and by exploring how these bioplastics can be recreated, Chip[s] Board was discovered. The company was founded on the objective of "finding value where others see waste" and is committed to conceptualising and developing materials from industrial byproducts to reduce environmental damage.

Chip[s] Board co-founders, Rowan Minkley and Robert Nicoll, discovered the material through a series of trial-and-errors during their third year at Kingston University. Rowan's research was focused on vegetable waste in paper production and coffee waste in plastic production while Rob studied potatoes and their ability to make bioplastic. The potato angle appeared favourable as they held a wider set of promising ingredients, and an available abundance of chip manufacturing peel and waste. Upon Rowan’s suggestion, research went from being conducted using whole potatoes to using waste from a restaurant. A sheet material was then developed by new co-founder Gregory Cooper and is now being refined for industrial production.

Chip[s] Board, The Material

Chip[s] Board is an eco-friendly and toxin-free alternative to chipboard and MDF made using potato waste.

Chip[s] Board is created using a method similar to that of MDF and incorporates heating and pressing mechanisms to finish the product. It also involves more pre-processing and separation of components than the manufacturing of MDF. The Chip[s] Board team aims to make its production compatible with existing MDF machines, which would allow for an easy industrial scale up.

“Chip[s] Board can be painted or veneered over and can be finished using any of the processes used for MDF.”

Material Properties and Tensile Strength

In order for the material to decompose, Chip[s] Board requires industrial composting due to the heat and presence of bacteria. Outside of this process the material can break down, but over a much longer period of time akin to a dead tree slowly decaying in a forest. Chip[s] Board can be painted or veneered over and can be finished using any of the processes used for MDF. It also fairs well against changes in temperature and moisture levels due to the material being 85% insoluble.

A Potato Waste Product

The potato angle appeared favourable as they held a wider set of promising ingredients (when compared to other vegetables and organic matter), and an available abundance of chip manufacturing peel and waste.

Circular Design Model

Chip[s] Board makes use of circular economy principles by using “waste” that would otherwise be disposed of as their primary material.

Similar to most wood-based panels, Chip[s] Board will see slight wear and tear with rapid environmental fluctuations but no more than traditional MDF. The material is tested relatively to ensure that it can match or even surpass the MDF properties. In terms of tensile strength, while Chip[s] Board does come close, the material is more brittle in comparison. The team however, acknowledges this drawback and is currently researching ways to improve the peel fibres.

“The company's second material, a bioplastic called Parblex is steadily gaining traction in the fashion world and is being prototyped as buttons and glasses frames.”

Material lifespan

Being a relatively new venture, current samples of Chip[s] Board are only 1-2 years old and show no signs of degradation. Since ease of disposability is an elemental characteristic of MDF, the objective is for the material to last 5-10 years of use. The team also wants to develop ranges of the material with different lifespans i.e. some that last 1-5 years for short-term while other products last 5 plus years for long term projects. Another factor to take into consideration regarding the product's shelf-life is product intention. The Chip[s] Board team mentions, “A non-load-bearing interior partition wall will last considerably longer than an outdoor bench, regardless of the material.”

Manufacturing Chip[s] Board

Chip[s] Board is created using a method similar to that of MDF and incorporates heating and pressing mechanisms to finish the product.

Chip[s] Board lifespan

The team also wants to develop ranges of the material with different lifespans i.e. some that last 1-5 years for short-term while other products last 5 plus years.

Chip[s] Board currently aims to be marketed as a material that targets the product, furniture and interior design fields. The company’s second material, a bioplastic called Parblex is steadily gaining traction in the fashion world and is being prototyped as buttons and glasses frames

Button Prototype

The company’s second material, a bioplastic called Parblex is steadily gaining traction in the fashion world and is being prototyped as buttons and glasses frames.

Looking to become a material innovation company rather than the producer of a single material, Chip[s] Board expresses that there are several options to look into including the use of other fibres such as bamboo, spent grain, coffee grounds or hemp to create various materials with unique and beneficial material properties.

For more information on Chip[s] Board, visit their website.