Monday 16 September 2013

Saving Lives: Design for Disaster Relief - 2013 Design Innovation in Plastics Student Design Award

We are pleased to be able to exhibit the winning designs of the Design Innovation in Plastics Student Design Award. The competition is jointly sponsored and run by the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and the Worshipful Company of Horners, whose collection is on loan here, with continued support of Bayer MaterialScience as the principal industry sponsor.

The brief

The competition brief was to design a product - mainly in plastics - that would alleviate the suffering of disaster victims. It had to be readily transportable in high volume to stricken areas and easy to use in potentially chaotic and challenging environments. Consideration had also to be given to the re-use and disposal of the product.

Winning designs

FIRST PRIZE: Project Sting designed by Chris Natt, Royal College of Art 

Chris wins £1000 plus a placement at Bayer MaterialScience, Leverkusen, Germany


Project Sting is a hypodermic vaccination syringe for infection control in the developing world. It replaces the traditional three-part syringe  and incorporates features that distinguish it from any previous syringe system. A re-usable master element accommodates a vaccine cartridge and uses a flexible diaphragm to dispense the vaccine. In addition, the syringe reduces the spread of infection by preventing accidental needle puncture of the skin, and also includes anti re-use features. The syringe reduces the spread of infection by preventing accidental needle puncture of the skin, and also includes anti re-use features. 

SECOND PRIZE: Rain Pod designed by James Scott, Northumbria University

James wins £500 plus a placement with Innovate Product Design, Wiltshire


Rain Pod is a tent providing shelter during monsoons that can also harvest clean drinking water. Disease from contaminated water kills more people around the world than violence. At present, no tent collects rainwater for safe drinking while providing emergency shelter following a disaster. This tent, however, can filter rainwater and also filter tepid water through a combination of bio-sand filtration and ceramic filtration, two systems that use filter materials that are in abundance around the world. A float within the pod works independently to prevent overflow by changing the angle of the roof as rainwater is collected. Rain Pod avoids the need for sending large quantities of water to relief camps.




THIRD PRIZE: Zebro designed by Thomas Hamilton, Loughborough University

Thomas wins £250 plus a placement with PDD, London


Zebro is an emergency leg splint for use in mountain rescue type situations. It is designed with an innovative cable system that forms a secure and even fitting around a leg injury. It uses ratchet dials for the first time to adjust and tighten the cables, and weighing less than 1kg, it is the lightest re-usable splint on the market. The shell is moulded from sheet polypropylene and fully radio-transparent so that it can pass through a CT or MRI scanner without having to be removed, thus reducing the risk of further injury. The splint fits all sizes, packs flat and is easy to assemble without tools. 



HIGHLY COMMENDED: Biodegradable Disaster Casket designed by Josh Allsopp, Northumbria University

Josh wins £100 plus a placement with Brightworks, Somerset



The retrieval and processing of the deceased following a disaster is often inhumane and degrading creating a highly traumatic and stressful environment. Disaster Casket is a more dignified alternative to the body bag, designed to make the process easier and more efficient while greatly reducing trauma. The casket is made from polypropylene with a biodegradable additive and can be either thermoformed or injection moulded. The design features multiple carrying positions as well as being able to nest for transport and stack when occupied; a pocket for documents and an integral body sheet is also included in each casket.  

Supporting documents supplied by the designer:

MERIT AWARD: Safe Place designed by Michael Heppenstall, Northumbria University

Michael wins £100 plus a placement with HellermannTyton



Safe Place is a waterproof container for storing personal documents, digital data and valuables for use in areas where there is a threat of flood or other disasters. It was inspired by the designer’s personal experience when his home was damaged by the Morpeth Flood of 2008, and consists of an outer casing with an inner container strengthened by moulded ribs. It contains a silica gel gas diffuser for absorbing moisture and conserving documents, and a marker light is fitted at one end that can last for up to ten years. Future containers could be made in different sizes and colours. 




2014 Competition:  Innovation through play – design for learning

The competition is an annual event. The theme for next year is: 'Design for Learning - Innovation Through Play'. Find out more at: The competition is open to students at any level. Why not give it a go?

Susan Lambert (Head of MoDiP)

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