Reducing enegy, materials use and waste

Evolution Composites is a family-run business based at the Enterprise Centre in Tibshelf that specialises in the design and manufacturing of sustainable, lightweight eco-boards. They approached DE-Carbonise for support in developing suitable machining and assembly solutions to build a three-dimensional box made from the company’s proprietary materials. 

About Evolution Composites

Evolution Composites is a family-run business based at the Enterprise Centre in Tibshelf that specialises in the design and manufacturing of sustainable, lightweight eco-boards. The company provides bespoke packaging solutions using composite materials derived from natural resources, i.e., flax fibres or sugar cane. Due to the nature of eco-friendly boards, machining and joining them together becomes challenging.

Why did they engage with DE-Carbonise

Evolution Composites approached DE-Carbonise for support in developing suitable machining and assembly solutions to build a three-dimensional box made from the company’s proprietary materials.
The design needed to be suitable for CNC cutting of raw materials to produce components of the box which would be later assembled using adhesive.

The key challenges identified to be resolved were:

What has been the impact of working with DE-Carbonise?

As part of the initial work package, prior to the design phase, the DE-Carbonise team carried out the mechanical testing of eco-board material samples to ascertain the material characteristics under laboratory conditions. In parallel, the preparation of 3D files and CNC trials at Markeaton Street Workshops were undertaken to determine optimal cutting speeds/feeds/tooling.

Then as part of the next, longer work package, the team investigated the possibility of joining solutions focusing on the strength and ease of assembly. Subsequently, the eco-boards were CNC cut to the required dimensions. The prototype box was assembled using a non-toxic adhesive. The strength of the prototype was evaluated by loading it incrementally with weight.

The mechanical testing results informed the design process on the material strength and allowed for the optimisation for different loading scenarios.

The 3D model of the packaging was developed considering several types of corner joints to maximise strength. The CNC toolpaths were created to minimise material waste. The optimal CNC cutting conditions were determined to successfully machine eco-boards and minimise manual finishing. The University of Derby and Evolution Composites successfully produced the box prototype made of eco-boards. Compared to equivalent products on the market, this prototype was 75% lighter and still able to withstand the same loads (200 Kg). Eco-boards manufactured by Evolution Composites are lightweight, sustainable alternatives that could revolutionise the packaging market.

About DE-Carbonise

DE-Carbonise is a three year collaboration between the University of Derby, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council, which started in November 2019. The collaboration is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and follows on from the successful D2 Energy Efficiency/Low Carbon project.

Logo's for European Union Regional Development Fun, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council and Midlands Engine.

Get in contact with us

To find out about current support available for your business in reducing your environmental impact, or your journey to net-zero. Please get in contact with our business gateway team.

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