Apr 21, 2017 | By Tess

The Rozalia Project, a Vermont-based initiative dedicated to saving the world’s oceans through education and research, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a small and remarkably simple product that could have a real impact on the state of our oceans. Made with the help of 3D printing, the Cora Ball is a small plastic ball designed to catch stray the microfibers shed by our clothes in the washing machine.

Inspired by natural coral in the ocean, which sways and catches small particles in the water, the Cora Ball is capable of attracting and catching microfibers that would otherwise end up in our water sources and contribute to global pollution.

Recently, our awareness of “micro” pollution has increased. Tiny plastic micro-beads (which were found in many facial scrubs and cosmetic products) have successfully been banned, and we can now understand the impact something as casual as washing our clothes might have on the Earth.

As the Rozalia Project explains it, “We are eating our fleece. Every time we do laundry, our clothes shed tiny microfibers (including plastic), which go down the drains of our washing machines, through wastewater treatment facilities and into our waterways.” Once in the waterways, the tiny fibers are consumed by fish and other wildlife, which we are then at risk of being consumed by us.

The 3D printed Cora Ball, which has already raised nearly $300,000 via Kickstarter, offers a simple solution to this environmental problem: catch the microfibers before they end up back in our waterways. How does it work? You simply place it into your washing machine with your clothes, and its fiber-catching stalks gather any stray fibers (including hair). When your load is complete, simply remove the Cora Ball, then pick out the clumps of fiber from its stalks and throw them in the trash.

According to the Rozalia Project, its product is capable of catching roughly 35% of microfibers per load of laundry. This might not sound like much initially, but when put into perspective, it is quite significant. If 10% of U.S. households use the Cora Ball for their washing, the Rozalia team estimates it would keep the plastic equivalent of 30 million water bottles out of public waterways every year.

“The Cora Ball was designed as an equal opportunity fiber catcher, helping you protect our public waterways from a host of potentially harmful materials and chemicals,” reads the crowdfunding page. “In the US, our clothes are 60% plastic. The rest may be made from natural materials, but they are often covered in dyes, heavy metals and other chemicals. So, it makes sense to catch all of this manmade material before it ends up throughout the marine ecosystem, in the bellies of fish, and ultimately, on our plates."

In line with its environmental philosophy, the Rozalia Project is making its Cora Balls from 100% recycled and 100% recyclable plastic. At present it seems the product is 3D printed, though with the scale of the Kickstarter campaign, the Rozalia Project is turning to more traditional molding processes to scale up its production.

There are only four days left of the Kickstarter campaign, so there is still a chance to get on board the Cora Ball train. A single Cora Ball is going for a pledge of $20, and there are a number of bundle deals to choose from. Estimated delivery is for June 2017. You can learn more about the Rozalia Project’s efforts on its website.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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