Engineering 101

3D-Printed Mold Turns Gourds into Biodegradable Drinking Cups


It’s been quite a topic of concern lately, take-out containers and to-go coffee cups creating a large amount of waste that ends up in landfills and contaminating the Earth. That’s why, for the last few years, a Brooklyn-based design company called CRÈME / Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design, has been working on a solution.

The company developed HyO-Cup, a biodegradable molded gourd that transforms into a drinking cup.

(Image Credit: CRÈME)

HyO, its name derived from the Japanese word hyotan, meaning gourd, employs 3D-printed molds that allow users to grow gourds into customizable, functional shapes like cups and flasks, that can be composted instead of ending up in landfills like their plastic alternatives.

The company saw gourds as a fast-growing plant that bears robust fruits each season, developing a strong outer skin, and fibery inner flesh. In the past, dried gourds were used as receptacles like cups.

The 3D-printed mold allows CRÈME to create very specific designs with intricate details. For example, the company developed a set that mimics the silhouette of a classic faceted glass cup and a carafe with a lip detail.

How it Works

  1. A young gourd is placed inside and closed in a mold
  2. The gourd grows inside the mold
  3. The mature gourd then takes the shape of the mold
  4. The gourd cured and dried
  5. The dried gourd is cut and cleaned
  6. The gourds are stacked

While HyO-Cup is still in the developmental stages, the company is working on scaling up so that down the line they can be more widely available.

All Images Credit: CRÈME 

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