OECHSLER AG, a plastics technology group, and German outdoor clothing & gear VAUDE have worked together on the development of sustainable outdoor backpacks.
Both companies first work on a prototype series of these backpacks – named “Novum 3D”. The fabrication 100% relies on TPU – a thermoplastic that enables complete, single-variety recycling. For the first time, this also applies to the back construction. A welding process enables to join together the individual TPU parts of the backpack thanks to an innovative welding process, removing this way need for seams.
Conventional padding made of composite material – foam with a fabric cover – is replaced by 3D-printed pads in these prototypes. So-called additive manufacturing enables a combination of grid structure patterns that provide different degrees of hardness for different body zones and thus greater comfort.
As far as AM is concerned, this is the second application where we saw OECHSLER’s expertise – the first one being the 3D Printed skiing goggles.
Local supply chain to foster circular economy
The open honeycomb structure improves ventilation and reduces material usage while completing the concept of sustainable product development and production, which will take place entirely in Germany through a local supply chain.
Uwe Gottschalk, Vaude’s Head of Products, sees great potential in terms of a functioning circular economy. “Until now, backpack back systems have always consisted of many different materials. Thanks to 3D printing technology, back systems made of single-variety thermoplastic (TPU) are now possible for the first time. In combination with other single-grade materials, the backpack can be recycled quite easily without complex separation systems. All non-TPU parts are designed for easy removal.”
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