Around our main material: PET felt

Waste or a valuable raw material?

How old bottles become stylish furniture😉

Today we want to make a confession to you: We as Kretho are real Felt-Junkies!🤗 The material simply feels super soft, is easy to work with and on top of that it is extremely stable. But the best thing, the PET felt we use is environmentally friendly. Why this is the case, we would like to show you in our blog today.

My goodness! How could it come so far? Surely you have seen the pictures of littered seas, lakes and rivers on TV. Do you find this sight as shocking as we do?😠Out of that, we asked ourselves how we could make a change in this situation and contribute to a better future.🌏That’s why we had the idea of designing environmentally friendly furniture. We started to research, discuss and fiddle around in our workshop. Et voilà, we found the perfect material for our project pretty quick: PET-Felt.

PET bottles as starting material

But what exactly is this material? And where comes it from? You won't believe it, but our furniture was actually once bottles - PET bottles to be precise. After they are used, they go through an exciting recycling process and provide the valuable raw material for our furniture elements.

But how does that work? Well, first of all you have to know that the bottles we process are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Don't worry, you don't have to remember the term. 😉 However, it is important to understand that this is a thermoplastic material, that won’t biodegrade. If it ends up as waste in the seas, it takes several centuries for it to decompose. What a shame, right? 😨

PET becomes felt

That is why we are committed to recycle those old and empty PET bottles. And it goes like this: "First they are getting compressed to reduce the volume for a better transportation. After that, every bottle has to be cleaned and sorted according to the color. In the next step they are shredded, which produces many small pieces of plastic that serve as the base for our felt," explains our product designer Konstantin. Those little bits - also known as plastic flakes - can then be processed into fibers using a spinning melt. The flakes are melted and pressed through extremely thin nozzle openings. In this way we obtain very, very fine fibers that can then be stretched and be further refined. Now we can mix them with special fusible polyester fibers by letting both fibers pass through the spinning melt together. In the end, we give the fibers a curly shape so that they can be needled together and get hooked. 📍 This is how the PET-Felt mats are made.

Heating, pressing, placing on

And now? " And now? "The raw and unstable mats must first be heated in an oven before they can be further processed and shaped," Konstantin chats from the sewing box. In the process, they melt and shrink partially. "When heated, they can then be compressed to the desired thickness using powerful tools. Under pressure, it hardens after a few minutes. Depending on the material composition and pressure, the result can be a fairly stiff board, which still has a very textile surface with a warm character and therefore has a very pleasant feel to it.☺

Firm yet flexible

Now you might ask yourself why our TAKEoSEAT stool - which is also made of PET-Felt - can actually be folded. After all, the pressed blank is hard and non-deformable. But the solution is quite simple: "You can fold the stool because we have managed to technically represent a permanent kink," says Konstantin. "In the construction with plastics, so-called film hinges have long been used, on which the material is intentionally only wafer-thin and can therefore be bent very easily".

You won't believe what served as a model for this construction: The cap of a shower gel bottle.😂"We saw this as an inspiration and asked ourselves how we could achieve a similar result with the PET-Felt. After several experiments and a long period of development, we finally found a way to bring a kind of "film hinge" into the felt, which is characterized by high strength and extreme durability. "This gives us the flexibility, required to fold the stool in the desired places. This is a great advantage of the material, that the stool cleverly exploits and which makes it unique in his form". By the way: The technology has already been patented by Kretho. 😎

The result: Strong furniture

Now you are probably saying: A stool made of felt collapses if you sit on it!🤔 We can reassure you there: The TAKEoSEAT is extremely stable. In our test lab, it was subjected to a permanent and dynamic load of 130 kilograms, which it managed without any problems.💪 "It's all in the construction," explains Konstantin. "When the PET-Felt blank of the stool comes out of the press, you get a large surface that you just fold in a few steps into the wanted shape. When the stool is opened up to sit on it, supporting walls under the seating platform ensure the stability. Giving it the necessary strength to prevent it from an unwanted collapse ".

As you can see: With a little creativity and willpower you can even create something useful from old PET bottles. Now we hope that in this way we can make a contribution to waste reduction and the protection of the environment. By the way, if one day, contrary to expectations, you should no longer need the furniture, it can be recycled.😉