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.
Hoekstra showed a bioplastic called Coleoptera that she produced from the pressed shells of dead darkling beetles.
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.
"It is waterproof and it can have [contact with] boiling water up to 200 degrees," she claims.
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."
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.
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."
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.