Fall 2020 Design I Final Competition

Section S: Trashe


Problem Statement: How might we reduce increased waste caused by COVID mitigation?

Team Members: Jordyn Alvarez, Asher Bursnall, Allison Kosberg, Jack Mehl, Noah Rainer

Instructor: Chelsea Salinas


  1. This is an interesting idea on alternative uses for plexiglass. How susceptible is plexiglass to scratches or other damage over the course of its use as a barrier or other intended purpose? Is there a level of damage that would make used plexiglass unusable for your product?

    Is the product for reading glasses (helps older people, such as your parents, read up close)? Or for prescription lenses that adjust for distance, astigmatism, etc.?

    Did you complete research that makes you confident that plexiglass can be used for both purposes?


    • Peter-
      Thank you!
      Plexiglass is a very durable material and is fairly shatter and scratch proof. It takes a good bit of force and a sharp object- something like someone taking a knife to the barrier- to scratch up plexiglass. That being said, because glasses need to be accurate down to the details, we would likely have a review system in place in our full-scale solution to ensure that no severely damaged plexiglass is used to create unusable glasses.
      We decided for our initial mold to go with the reading glasses since they are a simple ratio and aptly show how the formation of the glasses work, but we were hoping to foray into prescription lenses in the future. The challenge there is that a new mold would need to be made for each prescription, which would drive up costs quite a bit, so we decided to, at least initially, go with simpler, widely used, reading glasses.
      Due to the way our mold is set up, would be able to do any prescription lens that is a ratio, which is how glass lenses are made as well. The challenge there would be the necessity of making molds for every new prescription, which would be costly and space consuming.
      Thank you for your time!
      -Asher Bursnall

      • An additional note I forgot to mention:
        We did conduct drop tests on the plexiglass to ensure that it wouldn’t shatter or scratch from falling, and there were no visible scratches after any of the tests.

  2. Hi Trashe,
    I judged your section so already asked several questions. So here are some follow ups:
    1) There are so many different types of plexiglass sheets being used currently, will thickness affect your process?
    2) How clear was the plexiglass after you bent it for the prototype? Will it need to be polished (for lack of a better term) after it is shaped?
    Cara Juergensen

    • Cara,
      1) The thickness for the plexiglass being used as barriers around campus remained uniform, so we focused solely on those plexiglass sheets for our project. We could certainly adjust for other thicknesses of plexiglass in the cutting and molding processes, but since there is such a variety of thicknesses out there, we decided to focus only the one type of plexiglass barriers we were seeing.

      2) The plexiglass remained clear even after we bent it, and part of our validation testing was to ensure that optical quality was not affected by the molding process. However, if we saw it becoming an issue in the full-scale process, we could add a step in the process that handled the issue.

      Thank you for your time,
      Allison Kosberg

  3. Hello Team,
    Great presentation and interesting idea.
    Few questions:
    1. How do you plan to mitigate the effects of plexiglass when molded on human health?
    2. What did you learn from key validation aspects and how did it help you iterate your design?
    3. Who are the main stakeholders for your product?

    Thank you, Dr. H

    • Dr. Handorian-
      Thank you!
      1) We conducted extensive research on what process for heating the plexiglass would limit, or eliminate, the production of fumes that could impact human health. An acrylic sheet forming guide from Plexiglas was extremely informative, and we found that the plexiglass needed to be heated at approximately 360 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour to produce these fumes. Our design only has the plexiglass being heated to 315 degrees Fahrenheit for six minutes, so the likelihood of fumes being produced is very low. Even with the likelihood of fume production being quite low, the heating unit is equipped with a fan that would help ventilate any fumes produced.
      2) One key validation aspect that impacted our final design was researching and selecting the best method to incorporate the heating unit. We contemplated using an oven separate from the mold, making the mold heated, or having the mold encapsulated by the heating unit. Thorough research on both heating methods and possible materials for the mold helped us determine that a heating unit separate from the mold would allow us to reach the required temperature with the most precision and would help maintain the quality of the mold for longer. Additionally, testing on the timing of our process, including time to heat up the plexiglass, time required for it to fully mold, and time needed for the plexiglass to cool down, were integral parts of our design. We began testing with temperatures and time intervals found through research, but altered these through the validation process to best fit the circumstances of our design.
      3) The main stakeholders for our project include sustainability coordinators for large companies or organizations that will be responsible with determining what their respective organization will do with their accumulated plexiglass waste as well as people involved in waste management. Our initial problem validation included interviews with people in these fields, so our solution was addressing their concerns with the lack of a plan or sustainable option to handle waste due to COVID mitigation.

      Thank you for your time!
      Jordyn Alvarez

  4. I really like the idea here.

    1. did you consider what market this product would focus on? i.e. Could this be similar to Tom’s model? Buy one give X number?

    2. How would you address the supply chain? Moving this waste plexiglass around presents a bit of a supply chain logistic issue.

    3. How would you validate the prescriptions in the lenses? Would they be custom prescriptions or more similar to reading glasses?

    • Hello, I’m Jack Mehl. I can speak to your first question. My groupmates will handle the others. This product would be in the market of reading glasses. The possibility of a “buy one give X” model is something that we are interested in pursuing, however, we did not include this in our cost analysis. We are not sure of the feasibility of this model, so it is likely that it would not be possible right off the bat. I’m glad you like our idea and thank you for the questions!

      • Kelly Pickering-
        In response to your second question, we would try to set up our full-scale units nearby or within pre-existing plexiglass recycling plants in order to reduce how much it gets moved around. In the best case scenario, we would hope to create a partnership with major recyclers of plexiglass so that they can send us large sheets and waste that can be reused, and we send them the smaller scraps that are not big enough to be made into a full pair of glasses. In this way, we can create a partnership where the plexiglass is not moved very far and can be totally recycled in one area, then sent onwards to stores.
        Thank you for your time!
        -Asher Bursnall

    • Kelly Pickering-
      Thank you!
      In response to your third question, extensive research was conducted to determine how the prescription of glasses lenses are formed and it is essentially a ratio between the curvature of the top and bottom of the lens. Additionally, in a large scale solution we could pull a few glasses from every batch and perform visual tests to maintain quality control. Our solution could potentially extend into prescription glasses, however this would require the production of a new mold for each prescription. Our group discussed the possibility of a mold where the curved pieces forming the lens is made of very small slats of stainless steel that could reposition to form a new curvature for different prescriptions, but this did not seem feasible to develop in the time period we had. So, our solution focuses on reading glasses because they are more uniform, but could possibly extend past that in the future.

      Thank you for your time and questions!
      Jordyn Alvarez