Two product design students from the United Kingdom have returned from a week spent with Covestro AG at the K show in Düsseldorf as part of their prize for winning the Design Innovation in Plastics competition.
Having visited K 2016 and the company's headquarters in Leverkusen, Annabel Burton and Alex Bordino, who won the competition in 2015 and 2016 respectively, have come away with new perspectives on the plastics industry, with both keen to stress the potential opportunities awaiting students and young people interested in making it their career.
The competition, sponsored by Covestro and organized by the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining, and the Worshipful Company of Horners, asked university students to design new products made from plastics.
Both winners invented new products and those products are now patent pending.
Burton invented a quick release buckle used to fasten blankets on horses. Its release mechanism means horses are less likely to break a leg – and be subsequently put down – if they get their leg caught in their blanket. She will also be exploring avenues for her product in the future.
Burton, a third-year student from Nottingham Trent University, said: “The scale of the exhibition here at K Fair, and the industry itself is impressive, and it's clear there are so many opportunities and directions young people such as ourselves can pursue.
“I would say to young designers that you really should believe in yourselves. There are so many clever people here, but if you push the boundaries, be innovative and use these people as your inspiration, there's no reason why you shouldn't be in their position in a few years' time.”
Bordino, a finalist in this year's Plastics Industry Awards, currently in his fourth year of study, also at Nottingham Trent, designed a replacement for a stainless steel internal pump in the commercial ice cream machine, making a new plastic alternative which is more hygienic, has fewer parts, is lighter, and cheaper to produce. He is currently in talks with manufacturers with an aim of bringing the product to market.
He said: “I didn't realize quite how big the plastics industry is. There are so many different avenues to explore, and it was especially fascinating to see how Covestro displayed and explained their products, showing not just how they work, but the potential new applications. The stand truly demonstrated their innovative culture, and opened my eyes as to what more is possible in the development of plastics.”