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Design explorations with cellulosic materials

Tiina Härkäsalmi, Aalto University Colored cellulose foam by Tiina Härkäsalmi. Photo by Eeva Suorlahti

BACKGROUND The aim of design is the innovative humanisation of technologies and to exploit the design research as a tool for cellulose technology development enabling new application areas, product concepts and business development. Material explorations, experiments and early phase prototyping are the key elements of design processes. They can provide new insights not only into the intrinsic material properties, but as well into the more holistic understanding about the potential limits and benefits of cellulosic materials and their properties regarding on the perceptual and associative qualities.

Nanocellulose structure experiment by Tiina Härkäsalmi. Photo by Eeva Suorlahti

CHARACTERISTICS The cellulosic materials and technologies were explored using the approach of research-through-design, which is nonlinear and iterative by nature. The goal of the explorations was to investigate material properties from multiple perspectives by creating material samples entailing different colours, forms, structures and compounds. For example, tubular and hemispherical forms were chosen to test the formability and mouldability of 100 % fibrillated nanocellulose, and compounds of nanocellulose and pulp, cellulose filaments or foam formed nonwovens.

TOWARDS POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS The challenge of productisation is the low technology readiness level of processing novel types of cellulose-based materials in an industrial scale. The cellulosic materials and technologies offer wide-ranging opportunities for further development of recyclable and biodegradable products.

Publishing date: 7.09.2016


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