Elizabeth Boorman December 12, 2014

Wakati by Arne Pauwels solves an age old problem in an efficient way. In hot climates, fruit and vegetables start to wilt as soon as they are picked. But putting refrigeration out on the fields to slow down this process would be extremely expensive and wasteful. Instead of wondering how to keep produce cool, Arne Pauwels, a young Belgian product developer, rethought this entire problem and asked: What exactly happens in produce that makes it spoil?

What he found is that it is actually the hydration in the cells that keeps produce fresh. Cooling slows down the amount of water that is evaporated out of the cells, and putting the produce in a humid environment could have the same effect.

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Therefore, Arne set out on his mission to make a low-cost climate-controlled unit and ended with the Wakati tent. Materialise helped him make prototypes of the housing of the ventilator so that they could test out multiple iterations to optimize the design. The prototype was also useful to show potential investors and customers and start to get the business off its feet. Once Arne was ready to start manufacturing 120 tents, he came back to Materialise for our vacuum casting services.

Hear Arne explain the Wakati tent in his own words:


Putting the Theory to the Test

One of these tents even made its way to Benin during our Summer School program last August. Materialise’s CEO Fried Vancraen along with Materialise employees Pascale and Jamie worked with Constant, a local student, to see if this would be an effective tool in Benin.

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First they purchased a few vegetables in the local market and did a mini-experiment to see how well it would work in Benin. After their test where Constant placed half the produce in a shady area of the house and the other half in the Wakati tent, the summer school team found that the vegetables they left in the Wakati tent were very fresh whereas the vegetables inside the house were clearly wilted.

This could prove to be a valuable solution for farms, markets and households, so they continued to pursue the project and Materialise agreed to purchase a dozen tents to conduct a market study. They heard positive feedback from the farmers who used the tent, and will continue to test the tent in the upcoming months.

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Do you have a project that could benefit from our prototyping and small-series production services? Check out our website to learn more about what we can do for you.