Abstract

The recent development in technology has made bio-based plastics an increasingly attractive alternative to petroleum-based plastics to tackle plastic pollution. However, currently, bio-based plastics have not been widely adopted in the design and manufacturing of new products. To advocate the use of bio-based plastics, this paper proposes two visualization-based tools to educate designers and engineers about the availabilities and the properties of different bio-based plastics. After analyzing the literature on visual tools for sustainable design and material selection, two new prototype tools for screening bio-plastic alternatives are designed with the advice and support of the engineers of a major U.S. manufacturer of agricultural equipment. Surveys and focus groups with the manufacturer’s engineers are conducted to improve the tools, and a first case study is completed to examine their usefulness.

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