Our Design Journey: From Fiberglass to Plastic and Beyond

For over a decade, Splash has been incorporating innovative design into our drinking and handwashing stations. One of the main drivers for this work is the difference in price per tap. Yet the cost savings do not begin to touch upon the many other benefits of materials, like plastic, that we are thrilled about.

From prototyping and testing multiple versions of stations in the field (everything from brick and mortar, concrete and tile, glass stone, commercially available products, custom stainless-steel models, and our current fiberglass molds), to designing stations for institutions accommodating a wide range of children (from schools of 5,000, to feeding centers of 1,500, to pediatric hospitals of 100), we have rich experience with what works and what doesn’t.

Human-centered design is a critical component of our approach. In Nepal and India, our stations have been traditionally made using fiberglass, a type of plastic that is reinforced with glass fibers. In the US, fiberglass is commonly used for playground equipment, boats, roofing, and many others where products must be durable and lightweight.

As Splash looks to expand our sanitation projects in Ethiopia, we will take our best practices learned in Asia and manufacture and install fiberglass stations in Addis Ababa for the first time. Previously, we only installed concrete and tile stations in schools. We also will continue to innovate even further in the future.

Fiberglass and plastic stations are easier to install, easier to clean, easier to repair, and easier to move after installation than our existing tile and concrete stations in Ethiopia. The design process has also allowed us to make our stations more child friendly (both in terms of aesthetics and functionality).

Splash’s team in Addis Ababa have been hard at work, researching fiberglass manufacturers, gathering bids, re-negotiating prices, and as of August 2017, supervising initial station manufacturing. The new fiberglass stations for Ethiopia will be similar to the design we use for Nepal and India, with small improvements. The ability to serve more students per station is needed given the very large school sizes in Addis Ababa, with some schools having upwards of 2,000 students.

“Splash’s first fiberglass water stations were installed in Nepal and India. They were well received by the schools and appreciated by government officials.” — Sourav Chattopadhyay, Lead Technician, Splash India

To facilitate the transition and build-out of our country-level expertise, Sourav Chattopadhyay, Lead Technician from Splash’s Kolkata Office, flew to Ethiopia to provide technical support to our team in Addis on the initial fiberglass drinking and handwashing station manufacturing.

Thanks to an exciting new partnership with the Autodesk Foundation, Splash will expand our impact and continue our long history of innovation in the design field. With Autodesk’s support, we hope to build our expertise to conduct more design improvements, which will further increase our supply-chain benefits and cost savings.

Most importantly, with the support of Autodesk, Splash can rev up our implementation in Addis Ababa, allowing us to reach our goal of providing every public school with clean water and clean hands, more efficiently, while not sacrificing on quality. We hope that this work will serve as a model for the greater WASH sector of what’s possible when you resolve to innovate and never settle.

The Autodesk Foundation
The Autodesk Foundation supports the design and creation of innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. We support impact-driven, design-focused organizations and the ecosystem that helps solutions reach scale. We provide funding, software, training, and related support, so organizations can have the greatest impact possible.

Clean water, clean hands, clean toilets, and menstrual health support for kids in urban poverty — co-developed with local governments.

Clean water, clean hands, clean toilets, and menstrual health support for kids in urban poverty — co-developed with local governments.