Laura Brown

Professional Learning Portfolio

Category: Ignite Week

Make It: Final Presentation

My finished product came up so much better than I had expected and I’m very interested in looking to sell these to raise money for a charity such as Plastic Oceans whose mission is to raise awareness on the issue of plastic pollution.  Single-use plastic is a human addition that is destroying our planet and I want to do everything I can to be a part of making this much-needed change.

To highlight the fact that these combs have been made from 100% recycled plastic, I decided to use my newly develop skills in using the laser cutter, to prepare a tag for each comb. I tied the tag to each comb


From the two successful plastic cakes, I made over 15 individual combs. I chose colours that were quite different from each other with the hope of gathering interest from a wider audience. The green/blue combs, I think, turned out the best as the sheet was flat and allowed to cool overnight. The red coloured sheet wasn’t as flat so I did have some difficulty cutting this and as a result, the combs from this sheet have a slight bend in them.

I have developed a range of skills this week including:

  • Using Illustrator to create vector drawings
  • Creating plastic sheets from recycled plastics
  • Shredding plastics for the purpose of making the plastic sheets
  • Using the laser cutter and determining the best speed and power for the materials that I was working with (both plastic and wood)
  • Use of the heat gun, electric sander and the scroll saw

Please buy a comb from the PTA store to support Plastic Oceans and increase awareness of an important global issue!

Make It: Create & Improve

The first plastic cake that I made was flat on the top but was not properly melted when I removed it from the baking dish. This was frustrating because it was not something that I could go back and correct. I did cut a comb from this plastic sheet to get an idea of how the illustrator design would cut. So it wasn’t all a waste!

I created a second plastic sheet/cake and this time, I left it in the oven for almost an hour. This meant that I had to cover the top after about 45 minutes to prevent the sheet from burning. Once I removed the sheet from the oven, I used clamps to ensure the sheet would harden completely flat. This would make cutting so much easier as I would be able to ensure the cut was the whole way through the plastic sheet. Being patient and waiting for the sheet to cool completely was really important! With a second plastic sheet I made, I didn’t wait for it to cool completely and as a result, the thickness was not consistent and I had trouble cutting with the laser cutter.

I also found that using baking/greaseproof paper to stop the sheet from sticking to the baking dish left an annoying sheen on the plastic. I was able to use a heat gun to carefully heat the surface to melt it again, only slightly! When I first tried this, I heated it too much and found that the teeth on the comb started to warp. Whoops! With the next comb, I made sure to keep the heat away from the teeth and only heat the surface very slightly. This gave the plastic sheet a gloss once again.

To further improve the sheen of the fished product, I sprayed them with an acrylic gloss to protect the comb and also improve the appearance.  The gloss finish did take a while to dry and I had to leave them overnight but it was worth the wait! The gloss changed the overall appearance quite significantly and the material to touch was smoother and felt more like the comb that originally inspired my idea.

Make It: Develop and Plan

Having spent some time researching the Precious Plastics website, I know that I am best choosing one type of plastic to work with. I’ve chosen to create a plastic “cake” made from type 5 plastic which has been chipped using the shredder machine.

I used the Noun Project to find an icon that I can use to prepare an Illustrator file for the purpose of laser cutting the plastic sheet/cake. I’m not all that familiar with Illustrator so I’ll need to develop my skills in this area. I’m also very new to using the laser cutter and I’m not sure I fully understand the difference between the speed and power when cutting various materials. I’ve found some tutorials online to help me develop these skills and I will also work with Mr Stenning to support me in using the laser cutter.

When selecting the icon from the Noun Project I had a number of different options such as these below. I had to think about which would be best to cut – for example, if the teeth on the comb were too narrow, would there be a chance that they could snap easily? I ended up going with the first icon since it appeared that it would offer a stronger product overall and additionally, it was very similar to my original inspiration for the comb.

This is my sketch that includes my thinking about the dimensions (in mm) for the comb. I’m happy with my design and I think I’m ready to start creating plastic sheets from the shredded plastic.

Make It: Define and Inquire

Plastic waste in a huge problem around the world. At ISB we are collecting plastic to use in our Precious Plastics recycling plant in the Fab Lab. I wanted to take this opportunity to create something from waste plastic which could potentially be sold in the PTA store to raise money for a charity and also raise awareness of plastic consumption around the world.

Recently it was my birthday and I was given this beautiful comb. The finish of the comb reminded me of the plastic “cakes” or sheets that I have seen in the Fab Lab, created from recycled plastic chips. This was the inspiration for my project.



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