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Liverpool startup Koffin is tackling rising funeral costs by using advanced material testing and 3D printing technology to help create its first batch of customisable eco-coffins, with support from business programme LCR 4.0.

With funeral costs having risen over 70 per cent in the last decade, Koffin was founded by artist Gina Czarnecki in 2014 as a sustainable and affordable alternative to traditional Victorian-style coffins.

Created from a lignin-based biopolymer, the caskets are 100 per cent biodegradable and can be personalised with different colours, photographs or hand-written messages. They can also be adapted with 3D printing to create different shapes.

The collaboration with LCR 4.0 – which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund – saw Koffin work closely with delivery partner Sensor City to test an affordable and sustainable alternative to traditional methods.

Sensor City helped Koffin undertake a finite element analysis (FEA) of the prototype’s material and design to determine the optimum material thickness that would be needed to withhold sufficient pressure.
Koffin also worked with LCR 4.0 partner, Liverpool John Moores University to use additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – to create different decorations that can be attached to the coffin. After four years of development, Koffin has now gone into production.

Gina Czarnecki, founder of Koffin said: “Funeral prices are increasing drastically, and people deserve the right to a personalised send-off that isn’t going to break the bank. 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.”

Jaime Mora-Fernandez, LCR 4.0 product design engineer at Sensor City said: “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.”

Looking ahead, Koffin is set to launch its Kickstarter Campaign to raise the funds needed to take the product to market. Twenty of the Koffins, decorated through a national public call-out will be displayed in Liverpool from 1st November 2018. You can see them at the Oratory, next to The Angelican Cathedral.