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School project - create reflective device from waste material

  1. May 8, 2013 #1
    I am in process of doing a project for school. The basic aim of the project is to address the following issue. I live in a country where we have a lot of street vendors and beggars that stand in the street at night and as a result are not visible to oncoming traffic. i would like to create a reflective device/material from easily accessible materials like waste, take away containers, glass, etc. the idea being that it can be made or assembled by these particular street vendors, they are very poor and will not be able to purchase anything but if i could come up with a mechanism that they could put certain things together which would then be reflective then they could be self sufficient. i will develop an easy to read insrtuction manual.
    so the help i need is to figure out how to construct this device/material. some ideas : use the bottom of coloured glass bottles, incorporate foil from take away containers....
    i am at a bit of a loss as someone who did promise to help me has not done so
    so anybody out there got any ideas.....
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 9, 2013 #2

    Danger

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    What's practical depends to a huge degree upon both the skill levels of the people involved and the tools available to them. I'm guessing that a beggar is probably homeless and has at most a knife and something to use as a hammer. Vendors can probably afford more sophisticated stuff (such as part of their inventory).
    Point one is that the product should not only help to keep them safe, but be safe to create. Glass could pose a hazard in that regard. For both reflectance and ease of manipulation, it's hard to go wrong with aluminum foil. Also, the stuff never goes away so you'd be doing your town a favour by getting it out of the garbage. You can even coat it with a transparent paint such as nail polish to change the colour at only a slight cost to the reflectance.
     
  4. May 10, 2013 #3
    Thanks Danger
    Got any ideas of how to make the foil even more reflective by using some materials that a street beggar might be able to get hold off. Some takeaway sauces mixed with something else might work....? What do you think
     
  5. May 11, 2013 #4

    Danger

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    Foil is pretty much either shiny or not shiny; I don't think that you can change it. Polishing would probably just make it dull. I have my doubts about any sort of food product such as sauces for colourizing. Stabilizing it so it doesn't just go rotten probably can't be done, and I've never seen any that are particularly shiny. (Besides, would a beggar actually work with something like that or just eat it?)
    Knowing nothing about your culture isn't helping me any. Since you're concerned about traffic, I assume that you also have some sort of automotive scrapyards. Broken or discarded taillight and turn-signal lenses would work, and especially non-electric side markers.
    Another thought is that if you have craft (art) shops, maybe some of your subjects could afford to buy a package of "glitter", like you use to make greeting cards, and some glue.
    Broken bicycle reflectors as are used on pedals and rear fenders will work great as well. I don't know about your area, but I'm always finding the stupid things lying around my neighbourhood.
    I'll keep thinking on it.

    edit: I didn't mention this specifically because I think of it as foil, but in case you don't I'll point out that a potato chip bag is incredibly reflective on the inside. It's actually a form of mylar, the same as they use for party balloons. (Oh, hey... maybe you can get people to donate broken or simply deflated balloons.)
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  6. May 16, 2013 #5
    Thanks Danger
    I will think all this through and come up with a way forward
    Appreciate your input
     
  7. May 28, 2013 #6

    Danger

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    No worries. Please keep me informed of what happens, either through this thread or by PM. I'm very interested, and it sounds like a worthwhile project.
     
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