Kera-Plast : Exploring the plasticization of keratin-based fibers through compression molded human hair in relation to textile design methods

University essay from Högskolan i Borås/Akademin för textil, teknik och ekonomi

Abstract: The project Kera-Plast aims to re-loop humans and nature by questioning the current systems and ethics through materiality. Human hair, currently considered as waste, functions as the base for the material exploration fabricated through thermo-compression molding. The flexible, short and opaque keratin-fibers get glued together with heat, pressure and water, acting as a plasticizer during the compression molding process. The results are stiff and remind on plastic due to shine and translucency. Aesthetics and function of the resulting material are controlled and designed by traditional textile techniques as knitting, weaving and non-woven processes. The material samples display the potential of Kera-Plast in the categories of 3D surface structures, patterns, shapeability and the influence of light. The findings also provide information about the parameters for designing with keratin fibers through the thermo-compression process. It can be concluded that despite all ethical and cultural factors, Kera-Plast and its fabrication method has the potential to add a sustainable, functional and aesthetical value to the design field and our future material consumption.

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