YOUNG DESIGNERS TRANSFORM BEETLES INTO
PLASTIC AND PRINTING INK

| 6 comments

Dezeen and MINI World Tour: in our next movie from Eindhoven, design graduates Aagje Hoekstra and Evelien Crooy show us the bioplastic and ink made from insects that they presented at this year's Dutch Design Week.

Coleoptera insect plastic by Aagje Hoekstra

Hoekstra and Crooy, both recent Utrecht School of Arts graduates, presented their projects at the Klokgebouw building during Dutch Design Week last month.

Hoekstra showed a bioplastic called Coleoptera that she produced from the pressed shells of dead darkling beetles.

Coleoptera insect plastic by Aagje Hoekstra

The shells contain a substance called chitin, also commonly found in crustaceans, which Hoekstra converted into a polymer called chitosan and then heat-pressed to create a plastic.

Coleoptera insect plastic by Aagje Hoekstra

"It is waterproof and it can have [contact with] boiling water up to 200 degrees," she claims.

Coleoptera insect plastic by Aagje Hoekstra

Darkling beetles are the adult form of the mealworm, an insect larva that is often used as animal feed.

"In the Netherlands, mealworms are bred for the animal food industry," says Hoekstra. "After laying its eggs the beetle dies, so insect farms in the Netherlands are throwing away 30 kilograms of dead beetles every week. I transform these insects into bioplastic."

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

Evelien Crooy produced her own ink from female cochineal beetles, a cactus parasite native to South America, which is used to make the common red dye carmine.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

Crooy used the ink to screen-print the cover of a book about the insects, which highlights how many different products contain carmine dye.

"It's an insect that lives in Peru," Crooy explains. "It's special because it has a colour inside and this colour is also used by the cosmetic and food industries. But, because I'm a graphic designer, I wanted to screen-print with it."

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

Crooy experimented with mixing the natural pigment with lime and salt to produce different shades. "[You can produce] not only red, but also orange and pink ink," she explains.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

We drove around Eindhoven in our MINI Cooper S Paceman. The music in the movie is a track called Family Music by Eindhoven-based hip hop producer Y'Skid.

You can listen to more music by Y'Skid on Dezeen Music Project and watch more of our Dezeen and MINI World Tour movies here.

Dezeen and MINI World Tour: Eindhoven
Our MINI Paceman in Eindhoven
  • what?

    Nice bioplastic. But anyway, water boils at 100 degrees and can at normal atmospheric pressure never reach 200 degrees. Weirdly made-up property.

    • ladybug

      Chitin is a polymer but you can not make something out of it. Only insects can. You indeed can make it into Acridine orange Chitosan, which has already existed for over 100 years but dissolves in water.

      What she shows is is mere compression of skeletons. By the way, the Chitin used on industrial scale comes mostly from shrimps and crabs.

  • steve

    Makes about as much sense as 30Kg of dead beetles per week. If true, that is not exactly feedstock for alternative plastics production, is it?

  • Mike Maensey

    Ok guys! This IS disgusting! What is that kind of an argument: “the animal food industry throws them away anyway”? Would you make color out of used tampons just because millions throw them away every month? Think a step further, it’s not enough to defend that which these ‘green-washed’ blabla! Sorry.

  • ulyses alvarez

    Sorry but this is like a joke. This kind of “new” technology has 500 years in mexico and other countries in South America.

    • dong

      In Korea too.