Technology, Arts and Media Program header

ATLS 4519/5519: STUDIO: Plastic Machines

Course Description

Building upon designs developed by Precious Plastic, we will build machines that help us recycle plastic into new objects, and develop new applications for democratic, distributed manufacturing worldwide.

Beginning in 2013, a team led by designer Dave Haakens set out on a mission to revolutionize the plastic industry by developing machines that could bring plastic recycling and manufacturing into the hands of individuals worldwide. The result was Precious Plastic, an Open Source set of machines and tutorials that empower almost anyone to start their own plastic recycling and manufacturing facility, regardless of geographic or economic context.

In STUDIO: Plastic Machines, we will participate in this exciting project by constructing these machines, recycling plastic waste into useful objects, and developing new applications for the Precious Plastic project. By partnering with Precious Plastic, our work will directly contribute to efforts to solve the environmental crisis caused by plastic waste and empower people worldwide to start their own plastic recycling operations, invigorating local economies worldwide.

Course Objectives

Students who successfully complete this course will:

Critical Thinking & Theory / History:
  • Learn about the impacts of the plastic waste cycle globally
  • Investigate microbusiness as a solution for global development
  • Explore the context and methods behind Open Source Hardware
  • Analyze and Improve upon the Precious Plastic machines
  • Design new products that can be made with these machines
  • Create tutorial videos to show others how to make those products
  • Technical Metal and Plastic fabrication
  • Computer Assisted Design (CAD) drawing
  • Tutorial video production and editing

Credit Hours

  • 3 hours


  • ATLS 3100 Form, or equivalent course experience in 3D modeling for fabrication
  • ATLS 3519 Material, or equivalent experience in basic fabrication (documentation of completed projects required)
  • Recommended: ATLS 2100 Image, or basic knowledge in video production and editing