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Nottingham student scoops top prize for new ice-cream pump mechanism

A student’s ingenuity in redesigning the internal gear pump mechanism inside whipped-style ice cream machines has earned him top prize in a prestigious innovation award.

Second year BSc Product Design Nottingham Trent University student, Alexander Bordino, has won the annual Design Innovation in Plastics competition, organised by the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and the Worshipful Company of Horners.  The competition is headline sponsored by Bayer MaterialScience, one of the world’s largest producers of polymers and high-performance plastics, with sponsor support from market leaders in the fields of design and innovation.

This year’s competition brief was to identify a traditional metal product and replace it with the next generation of product using polymers.

Alex took the stainless steel internal pump which effectively turns liquid ice cream into aerated whipped ice cream, and re-designed it using a blend of polymers.

In doing so he reduced the number of parts needed to manufacture it from 15 to just seven, producing a lightweight pump which is less bulky, 2kg lighter and much easier to clean, being made from hygienic plastic.

Alex wins a week with Bayer MaterialScience, in Leverkusen, Germany, to see the company’s manufacturing facilities and talk to the people behind the products.  In addition to a cash prize of £1,000 he will also have a work placement at PriestmanGoode, the leading global design and brand experience agency specialising in aviation, transport and product design.

In second place is Megan Cattley, a second year Design for Industry student, from Northumbria University, with her degradable eye surgical equipment.  Megan wins £500 plus a placement with Innovate Product Design, a leading invention development company.

Third placed student, Martyn Billings, a final year Product Design student from Coventry University, produced a shock-absorbing, non-conductive, non-sparking polymer hammer.  He wins £250 and a placement with PDD, London, worldwide provider of integrated design and innovation skills. 

Highly commended prizes of £100 go to:

  • Róisín Keyes, a third year Product Design student from Dublin Institute of Technology, for her plastic extension keys for wind instruments.
  • Robert Miller, a second year Product Design Engineering student from Northumbria University, for his polymer TV antenna with improved design, functionality and sustainability.
  • Panayiotis Vrizas, a final year Engineering Product Design student from London South Bank University, for his scuba diving air tank moulded in glass-reinforced polypropylene.


The highly commended students will receive one of the following: a training course with G&A Moulding Technology which provides support, training and advisory services for the injection moulding industry; a placement with Brightworks, a leading product design and development consultancy; a placement with HellermannTyton, a global manufacturer and innovator of products for electrical and communication networks.

Chairman of the judging panel, Richard Brown, managing director of G&A Moulding Technology, said: “Alex took a product that has remained untouched for years due to the dominant market position of the manufacturer.  The judges were impressed by his approach of re-engineering the product by reducing the part count and changing the components to suitable polymer materials.

“Alex’s research of the market demonstrated an understanding of the challenges the end users faced and he took account of this in his redesign.  His use of material selection and approach to manufacturing to provide a total solution was well thought through and executed.”

Mike Stuart, technical service engineer, from headline sponsor, Bayer MaterialScience, added: “Overall the standard of entries this year was very good, and many students came up with creative ideas.  However we were not just looking for great ideas: we wanted to see if they had given careful thought to manufacturing method and costs.  Our six finalists did this, and these were among the factors which helped to ensure they made the final shortlist.”

Commenting about his new product, Alex Bordino said:  “My family has been involved in ice cream sales for quite a long time, so the pump is a device I was familiar with.  I could see it was bulky and I felt something could be done with it.  Also, because the competition brief was so broad, I wanted to design a niche product which the vast majority of people won’t have come across.”

It is now possible that some of the finalists will want to take their ideas further. All of them are offered post-award mentoring support with the goal of helping them take their design ideas closer to commercial realisation, along with a year’s free membership of IOM3.

The prestigious Design Innovation in Plastics competition is the longest established student plastics design competition in Europe, having been established in 1985.  Since then it has provided opportunities for design students to make a name for themselves with products which have genuine use and potential commercial value. It promotes innovative design, raises awareness of high-tech plastics and enables universities to raise their profiles as institutes of excellence in this field.

Next year’s Design Innovation in Plastics Award
Details of the 2016 award will be available on the award website soon: www.designinnovationplastics.org and also via Twitter, DIP (@designinplastic) which will post regular updates nearer the time.



Contact details and notes to editors: 
Sara Bartlett, Bayer MaterialScience
T: 07787 571020   E: sara.bartlett@bayer.com / sara@sarabartlett.co.uk

For DIP Admin Enquiries:
Sylvia Katz, DIP Award Coordinator
E: sylviakatz@designinnovationplastics.org.uk   

Note to editors

  • Established in 1985, Design Innovation in Plastics is the longest running student plastics design award in Europe. For more information visit www.designinnovationplastics.org      
  • Bayer MaterialScience is one of the world’s largest producers of polymers and high-performance plastics. Its coatings, adhesives, insulating materials and sealants, polycarbonates and polyurethanes can be found in applications ranging from automotive, construction, electrical, electronics and household, to sports and leisure. For more information, visit www.bayermaterialscience.com    


  • The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) was created from the merger of The Institute of Materials (IOM) and The Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (IMM), and now incorporates the Institute of Packaging. The IOM3 is the professional body for the advancement of materials, minerals and mining to governments, industry, academia, the public and the professions. For more information visit www.iom3.org
  • The Worshipful Company of Horners is one of the oldest livery companies in the City of London and was formed to regulate the horn-working trade. In 1943 it adopted its modern equivalent, the plastics industry. For more information visit www.horners.org.uk


*Special thanks are due to the following sponsors:

  • PriestmanGoode: a leading global design and brand experience agency specialising in aviation, transport and product design 
  • Innovate Product Design: specialises in helping individuals to protect, develop and commercialise their new product ideas and inventions
  • G&A Moulding Technology: an independent, non-biased company offering injection moulding industry support, training and advisory services
  • PDD: provides integrated design and innovation skills, working with organisations worldwide to develop novel products, services and business processes that drive revenues and create competitive advantage
  • Brightworks: an award-winning UK product design and development consultancy dedicated to helping other companies develop the best products for their customers, their markets and their brands
  • HellermannTyton:  one of the leading suppliers of products for fastening, fixing, identifying and protecting cables and their connecting components
  • Our media partners: British Plastics and Rubber, Materials World, Mould Technology