CRÈME introduces grow-your-own coffee cups using 3D printed molds

While it might be crazy to think of solving a plastic crisis with plastics molds CRÈME, a Brooklyn-based creative design firm, has developed a concept which does just that. The firm’s idea is to use 3D printed moulds to create 100% biodegradable and compostable  tableware made from gourd fruits.

Jun Aizaki, the owner and principal of CRÈME, who is originally from Japan, took inspiration from the ancestral use of the fleshy, hard skinned fruit as a container for liquids. Combined with the Japanese practice of growing square watermelons (to make them stackable) Aizaki created the HyO-Cup – the coffee cup you can throw away without a guilty conscience. 

The biodegradable HyO-Cup in the 3D printed molds. Photo via CRÈME.
The biodegradable HyO-Cup in the 3D printed mold. Photo via CRÈME.

Grow your own coffee cup

According to CRÈME, in 2006, Starbucks reportedly used 2.6 billion cups at its stores. During the manufacturing of each paper-based cup, approximately 0.24 lbs of CO2 emissions were produced. Furthermore, these cups are usually lined with unsustainable plastic polyethylene, which creates 100 grams of carbon dioxide.

“Take-away cups and packaging are a standard of everyday life but they produce an incredible amount of waste that ends up in landfills and contaminates our precious waterways and landscapes,” state the CRÈME team.

“What if aside from being a material resource, nature could also provide a solution for this worldwide issue?”

CRÈME recognized the versatility of gourds as they are able to grow quickly (approximately five months) and bear robust fruits in any season, with a strong outer skin, and fibery inner flesh. Once gourds are dried, they are hard enough to hold liquids without softening.

With 3D printing, molds can therefore be designed to force the growing of these fruits into any shape – from cups, to flasks and vases. When grown large enough to fill the mould, the fruits are simply cut down to size. Then after use, they can be thrown on the compost heap.

Gourds growing in the 3D printed molds to create a biodegradable vase. Photo via CRÈME.
Gourds growing in the 3D printed molds to create a biodegradable flask. Photo via CRÈME.

Biodegradable 3D printing

Aizaki and his team first grew the HyO-Cups outdoors, however, in order to mass produce the cups and eliminate threatening factors such as unexpected humidity, pests, and flooding, they are now being grown in a container laboratory. This allows for a more consistent product which can later be stacked for packing purposes.

The 3D printed molds made by the CRÈME team are reusable, which gets them some points for sustainability. However, it might be more beneficial to the process if the molds were also made from a biodegradable plastic, i.e. one derived from waste food products or wood.

The biodegradable HyO-Cup freshly removed from the 3D printed mold. Photo via CRÈME.
The biodegradable HyO-Cup freshly removed from the 3D printed mold. Photo via CRÈME.

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Featured image shows biodegradable HyO-Cups. Photo via CRÈME.