How To Build A Recycled Plastic Skateboard? Designer Giving Away Plans For Free

Emilee Geist

Plastic bags, bottle caps and CD cases, with a little work, can be the ingredients for making a skateboard deck. You have to add the trucks and wheels later on, and designer Jason Knight would appreciate a buck or two toward putting the plans together.

Knight, part of the Precious Plastic collective, launched a Kickstarter campaign today to make a download kit that will later be shared online, for free.

The funds generated by the campaign will go toward resources needed to make the kit and an initial batch of decks, according to the Kickstarter page. Anything extra beyond a campaign goal of about 40,000 pounds ($51,000 U.S.) will go to run free educational workshops, where people can make their own deck, to increase global awareness about the possibilities of plastic recycling.

Knight, the 25-year-old project leader, says he’s invented a way to make skateboard decks out of 100% recycled plastic. The download kit will contain all of the information people need to make their own boards. “These are the first traditional popsicle decks in the world to be made from 100% recycled plastic,” Knight boasts in a news release.

You’d think Knight, who’s living in France, might be an skilled skater. Nope.

“I can’t even ollie,” he says. “I stick to making things. I chose skateboards because their thinness is a good example of how strong recycled plastic is.”

You might also wonder why he’s trying to raise money if the kit will be given away for free anyway.

“To make a download kit takes a lot of resources,” he explains. “I need to build a new mold, buy or rent equipment and pay the extra people who help me.

“I also get a lot of people who want a deck. Despite not wanting to be a mass producer myself, I am interested in making a large batch so I can teach other people how to do it efficiently.”

Contributions to the “100% Recycled Plastic Open Source Skateboard Decks” Kickstarter start at 1 pound ($1.29), to get your name and the URL of your choice credited in the final package. To get a (second edition) deck, the contribution is 100 pounds or more, with an estimated delivery date of August 2021. There also are first edition and custom decks available via the campaign.

Knight says he’s made about 40 of his 100% recycled plastic decks. Most have been tested and used for feedback. A few have been kept for exhibitions.

“Creating them has been an iterative process,” he says. “Plastic recycling is a relatively new practice, so lots is still to be discovered.”

Over the past six years, he’s experimented with different techniques such as pressing and extruding to make the decks, using different materials such as plastic bags, bottle caps and CD cases. He says the 100% recycled decks weigh the same as standard decks and are slightly more flexible, “which presents the opportunity to develop new innovative ways to skate.”

So if someone were to order a download kit, how hard would one of these be to make?

“You need to know some mid-range electronics and metal work skills to actually build the system from scratch,” Knight says. “But if you were to buy a system pre-built, operating it to make decks is no more difficult than baking a cake.” He says he can’t promise it will smell as nice.

Speaking of buying a system pre-built, that brings up one facet of Precious Plastic, an open-source project run by friends and neighbors who trade free plans and blueprints online. The project website includes a Bazar marketplace where makers can sell their wares.

Knight says he’s all about the open source concept and doesn’t see himself in competition with folks who will take his post-Kickstarter free design package, then turn around and sell decks using the instructions. Knight also is part of MANDIN, an international design and art collective founded in London in 2017.

“I’m not in this to make money, and I don’t see people taking my idea as competition.

“Being open source also allows people to develop their own iterations and variations of the design which they can then share back so everyone can all work together to push the concept forward and collaboratively solve the plastic waste problem.”

That’s another thing: Knight’s long-term vision is to enable people who might not be able to purchase a traditional deck to be able to make one by collecting waste.

His ideological motivation? “To create a perspective change in people from seeing products made from recycled plastic as being sub-standard, to seeing them as something just as good, if not better, than products made from virgin materials.”

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