Ruslan, a robotics engineer from California, came to Guatemala to help ATC identify sources of materials, tools and to analyze costs of building the Precious Plastics machines.
He referred to Precious Plastics' machine designs to analyze appropriate designs in Guatemala and make it accessible for a Guatemalan metalworker to make parts for the machine.
He listed out all the materials in an excel sheet to show cost per unit, and where the best material can be sourced from in Guatemala.
At the same time, ATC personelle did a market study around Lake Atitlan to find the most marketable products that would be locally useful but also attract comparatively wealthier tourists to support the cause that would ensure constant cleaning of the lake.
Thanks to the first donations to this project, we were able to mobilize our staff to talk to people around the lake, meet with welders and metalworkers, and collect more information on the construction of these machines.
We found that the cost of cutting sheet metal in Guatemala is extreme, throwing the projected costs out of balance and deeming the project 300% more expensive than the designs by Precious Plastics insinuated. Furthermore, we found that most of the Precious Plastics projects are built and run by tinkerers, not entreprenuers, and we have yet to find an operating factory using the Precious Plastics design.
Disheartened, but still hopeful, we are laying this project on the back-burner for Guatemala. Nonetheless, our volunteers working at the Makerspace in Ann Arbor, Michigan continue to work on building these machines, with the potential to ship them to Guatemala to experiment with potential products here.
Hang on, and keep in touch, we really want to incentivize lake clean-up and reduction of plastic wastes in illegal dumps around Lake Atitlan. Creating a value for this trash will motivate people to separate and deliver their plastic to an up-cycling center.