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Nike Grind Composite Board

A composite surface made of Grind materials with an eco-friendly epoxy binder for applications including tabletops, cabinets, and more.

Photo of Caleb Granch
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This composite surface made of Nike Grind materials and an epoxy binder would serve as a recycled substitute for traditional laminate board. 

The product could be used for a wide range of applications including but not limited to: countertops, tabletops, furniture, flooring, and cabinets. 

For our submission we have chosen to showcase a scale model of one potential application, a table top for desks in classrooms ranging from elementary to college environments. These could even be made at a low cost and sent to impoverished areas and developing countries to assist in education efforts. 

A composite such as this can be easily mass-produced as the simple process of mixing large quantities of materials and pressing them into molds is easily automated. Due to the similarities in production and physical properties between this composite surface and traditional laminate board, there is already an infrastructure in place to produce, distribute, and utilize this type of material. Therefore, it would not require as much investment to scale production as it would for a completely new, complex, or handmade product. 

So far, we have been encouraged by the results of small scale prototyping using home-made Grind materials and wax as a binder. In further product development we hope to use real grind materials to experiment with different binders, develop production techniques, and perform testing to determine material properties.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Rubber Flashings
  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • EVA Foam Flashings
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Laminated PU Foam
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Mixed Footwear Textile
  • Footwear Fiber "Fluff"
  • Full Grain Leather Scraps
  • Split Leather Scraps Coated
  • Synthetic Leather

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

Most Grind materials will be used as fine and coarse aggregates in our proposed composite board. The selected materials will first be mixed together with a recyclable, eco-friendly epoxy (such as ecopoxy.com) in liquid form. Then, the Grind materials and binder will be thoroughly processed to eliminate air bubbles. During this time, the binder will be able to seep into the outer layer and fully saturate any porous materials such as the foams. The mixture could potentially be put into a vacuum to ensure no air pockets remain in the final composite surface. Lastly, the mixture will be poured into a mold and allowed to cure to a desired shape. The idea is that when the Grind materials are saturated and encased in the binder, the tensile strength of the materials will be exploited to create a product similar to laminate board, a product that is strong, relatively light, and cost effective. Some of the Grind materials, such as certain rubbers or foams, may not end up working very well with this product due to their material properties. We have currently decided not to use the “EVA foam sheets & blocks and EVA components” as they are likely too large and will compromise the structural integrity of the boards. With actual Grind materials and additional testing supplies we will be able to further assess which materials are suitable.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

The prototype shown in the photos illustrates one application of this product. Depending on aesthetic and performance preference, the material could be either used as-is or dressed up with a veneer.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing
  • Prototyping

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Our target market consists of a wide variety of communities and individuals. One specific market would be elementary schools. By altering the laminate board into a desktop, students will be exposed to sustainable design at a very early age. This would not only help us to scale this product, but also enable students to grow up in an environment where there is an emphasis on using recycled materials. They will learn to have an environment-friendly cognizance to reuse and recycle products.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

When coming up with an idea, our team wanted to create a product that is easily mass produced with a significant amount of grind material and has a large target market. With this composite board, the production is basic enough that it can be automated and produced in large quantities. Because the target market of this product already exists, this product could be mass produced to satisfy many different functionalities. Furthermore, there is already an infrastructure for the creation of laminate boards. Similar processes could be directly implemented into the production of this composite. Some of the potential applications of this product include, but are not limited to: coffee shops, schools, office workspaces, and household countertops and cabinets. The scalability of this product is essentially limitless due to its expansive market.

How is your idea innovative?

This product innovates on the idea of laminate board. The new composite would serve as a recycled and cost-effective substitute that uses existing materials in a unique, creative way. This product provides a way for the materials from old shoes to be repurposed and used in a variety of construction applications, linking two traditionally separate industries into a circular material economy.

What inspired this idea?

This idea was originally created for use in the classroom. Our Nike Grind composite tabletop surface could be produced on a large scale for desktops in all classroom environments. Furthermore, this product would serve as a reminder that education should emphasize sustainability.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Our team is comprised of four students studying Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. We were encouraged to create a submission for this challenge in our Philosophy of Design course which places an emphasis on human centered design.

In what city are you located?

San Luis Obispo

In what country are you located?

USA

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

We are excited for the chance to get our hands on Nike Grind materials to continue our prototyping. We have created a proof-of-concept made from “mock” Grind materials. However, if provided official Grind materials, we could begin testing to determine which materials will work best in our final product. We will be able to create functional prototypes with recyclable epoxy and use our on-campus labs to conduct strength tests on our composite Nike Grind boards.

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12 comments

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Photo of Fortune Mutiso
Team

Hello, what are some of the benefits or challenges you have encountered while conducting your innovation in this platform as compared to other traditional innovation methods?

Photo of Fortune Mutiso
Team

Hello, thanks for your comment.

One of the benefits of innovating on this platform was the feedback I got from the organizers and other members of the Open Ideo community. The feedback was key in refining my product.
Secondly, since this is a competition, it challenged me to come up with a superior product.
The final product is going to be universal and people around the globe have different needs and wants. The problem was reconciling these needs and wants into a single product that will satisfy the global market.

Photo of Nestor Siufi
Team

Hey guys! I really like the idea! I think that defining if the epoxies are environmentally sustainable is a crucial aspect of the product. On the other hand, I would like to know if you have an estimation of selling price per square feet of the board?
I hope you can startwiththe project soon!
Best luck!

Photo of Serena Liu
Team

Like this idea. Most new furniture has chemical smell, and it needs to be left for some days or even months, then available to use. As long as your idea can solve this problem, and health friendly, I think it is practical and has huge market.

Photo of Our Workshop
Team

Hola. This entry could work well in collaboration with Our Workshop's ideas and tests we've done so far with a starch based filler...

Photo of Caleb Granch
Team

This sounds interesting. Can you tell me any more about the starch-based filler? What is it made of? How is it made? What can it be used for? Also, is it recyclable/compostable?

Photo of Our Workshop
Team

we r working in a very basic way with cornflour and rice glue + pressure... so yes its natural. What are you guys making yours out of??

Photo of Robert Boyd
Team

I really love how this looks. Kinda looks like a marbled countertop, only recycle style. I think that the more colors you use the better it'll become. Just a nice reusable mosaic. I think if this product is safe to handle food and to children long term, I think it would be cool in elementary school classrooms. Way to go!

Photo of Daniel Penge
Team

Hey guys - excited by your idea. It's quite similar to one my group submitted. Check it out!
Have you had much luck in sourcing information about the epoxy you plan to use? I haven't found much out there in terms of how these bio-based epoxies/resins/binders degrade. What are the impacts? Sometimes bio-based materials are more harmful than their synthetic counterparts - just in different ways.

Photo of Caleb Granch
Team

Hey, Daniel. Thanks for taking interest in our idea! Currently, we are looking at a few companies that claim to have environmentally friendly epoxies such as Ecopoxy. However, we are still in the process of contacting them to figure out exactly what they mean when they claim their product is environmentally friendly.

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Caleb Granch ,

Great to see you in the Challenge!

With the deadline fast-approaching at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, please ensure all of your final updates are completed by then and your post is built out as much as possible!

Excited to learn more!

Photo of Caleb Granch
Team

Thanks, Lauren! I believe that we have completed all of our updates and are now ready for review.