Some people take off in summer. Not Caroline Grellier, who released her very first prototype for Termatière, a project of creation of materials by recycling agricultural waste. A vine shoot composite panel, designed in the lab, was cut in a fablab.
While some were basking in the sun on the beach in August, I also spent my days in the heat, a stifling heat, a tropical climate… but in the market building of the C2MA, the material lab of the Ecole des mines d’Ales (Ecole des mines is a group of engineering schools). Even though nearly three hours of driving through the winding roads of the Cevennes every day granted me a semblance of holidays…
Objective for July: produce, produce, produce to prototype, prototype, prototype. On paper, the plan was simple: take on a larger format of heat seal press to produce panels designed for the first wine case prototypes. But nothing turns out as expected: the rule of three that allows you to multiply proportions did not work. I therefore took out of the press a kind of vine shoot pancake, all dried up and crumbling. In order to obtain an exploitable panel, I had to review ratios again.
Following the advice of researchers and PhD students of the C2MA, I looked for the high end of the recipe. And sure enough: the resin spilled out from the press. As a result: scrubbing, cleaning and polishing of the mold and the hot plates for a full hour. Between the high end (maximum resin) and the low end (very low resin), I spent the rest of day making panels by increasing the resin ratio by 1% at each trial. And I finally found the satisfactory recipe to produce a mini series of seven 40 x 40 cm panels.
At “la Fruitière numérique”
For the realization of the first models, and just to concentrate on this sole objective, I set off for Lourmarin, a charming village in Provence accommodating a fablab where it feels good to live and work, la Fruitière numérique.
Three days of residence over there allowed me carry out several final tests on my material and steadily rediscover my designer hat. It had been some time since I had scrawled some sketches of cases and wines. One must admit that the relaxed and benevolent atmosphere one feels at la Fruitière numérique helps to take a step back. Cross-referencing opinions of DIYers and enthusiasts also made me sink back into this world of resourcefulness I like so much and that has influenced the operating mode of la Termatière since the beginning.
It was when talking to Georges Bonicci, fabmanager and die-hard DIYer, about my concern about finding small subcontracting panel manufacturers prepared to produce small volumes, or about investing a minimum amount in machines if production was to be handled internally, that emerged the idea that Termatière should make its own machines, relying on open source plans. The idea appeals to me: I find here the values I support through the project. Watch this space!
After a quick cardboard model, Georges helped me to make a first case.
The esthetics of the sanded panel are interesting, but the fraction of vine shoots is most likely too small and the thickness of the panels is too thin to allow for certain types of assembly. It remains to be seen what potential clients will think about this…
The flash market study will finish at the end of September. We are nearing the time for review, because once we have all the cards in hand, it will be time to make strategic decisions…