Though it is somewhat morbid to think about, death faces all of us and along with it, funeral planning and costs. According to Liverpool-based startup Koffin, funeral costs have gone up over 70% in the past 10 years. These high costs, along with the unsustainable nature of traditional coffins were what inspired artist Gina Czarnecki to found Koffin, a company dedicated to creating sustainable, 3D printed eco-coffins.
The eco-coffins, which have been in development for four years, have been supported by LCR 4.0, a Liverpool business program funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund, and Sensor City, a local innovation hub for sensor technology.
At this stage, Koffin reports that it is ready to create its first batch of the 3D printed eco-coffins, which could offer a more sustainable and affordable solution for burials than what is currently on the market.
The eco-coffins developed by the startup are made from a lignin-based polymer which is 100% biodegradable. Further, they can be made without any glues, metals or toxins, so they won’t have a negative impact on the soil they are buried in. According to Koffin, its products create about as much CO2 as natural wood when burnt or buried.
In addition to being more sustainable, the coffins can also be fully customized. That is, customers can personalize their coffin with different colours, photographs or hand-written messages. It is also possible to customize the caskets with 3D printing, creating different shapes and decorations to be added.
“Funeral prices are increasing drastically, and people deserve the right to a personalised send-off that isn’t going to break the bank,” said Gina Czarnecki, founder of Koffin. “Planning a funeral can be a difficult time, but we’ve found that having something tangible to take control of and make your own improves people’s wellbeing and peace of mind. The work with LCR 4.0 has enabled us to test our design that creates a cost-effective alternative that emits less CO2 emissions than a natural plant.”
The partnership with LCR 4.0 enabled Koffin to explore the use of additive manufacturing to customize the eco-coffins while it teamed up with Sensor City to confuse finite element analysis (FEA) tests to determine the optimal material and structure for the caskets (they need to withhold a certain amount of pressure when buried).
Jaime Mora-Fernandez, LCR 4.0 product design engineer at Sensor City, commented: “Koffin is unlike any other start-up that we’ve helped to date. The work carried out illustrates how new technologies can help businesses in a wide variety of sectors transform the way they approach the design and manufacturing process.”
As part of a marketing ploy, Koffin will be displaying a series of 20 caskets in Liverpool starting on November 1st. The eco-friendly coffins will be on show at the Oratory, next to the Angelican Cathedral. The startup also plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in the near future to raise money for bringing its product to market.