Perspex used to create bioscience test cages
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Invasive weeds are an increasing problem in the UK. Approved Perspex® fabricators Inplas have been working with CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) to create Perspex® acrylic cages to enable CABI to carry out testing on plants and insects to help manage these threats to our native environment.
Many non-native plants are introduced from other countries either by accident or intentionally for horticultural purposes. However, when they arrive on new shores, they usually come without any of the natural enemies (be they insects or pathogens) that keep the plants under control in their native environment.
CABI are a not-for-profit organisation trying to combat many of the most invasive weeds, examples of which include the well-known Japanese knotweed, which can grow through tarmac and foundations. CABI focuses on Biological Control as a sustainable solution to invasive plants and seek natural enemies (plants or insects) to control the problem plant. This safety testing happens in their Quarantine facility, where they grow populations of agents and use them to test on hundreds of different plant species.
CABI approached Inplas because they were in great need of new Perspex acrylic cages to grow their insect/pathogen cultures and carry out the testing. Our old cages had been used for over 25 years and were in need of replacement.
Clear Perspex® was the ideal material for their needs, as they can monitor everything that is happening inside, the light penetrates through to plants and cultures, it is easy to clean and robust. CABI briefed Inplas about the set-up of their cages - often sitting in a tray of water and directly under UV lights, resulting in humid and warm environment – a combination of 10mm, 8mm and 6mm Perspex® acrylic was used.
They needed a range of cages to meet specific needs. For example, insect work required simple square cages with a large circular hole at the front for a fabric sleeve attachment, to allow work with the insects inside without the risk of escape. The second design was a cage with a door, mainly for use with pathogens. In addition, a simple “extender box” was required to slot underneath either cage to increase its height for taller plants.
CABI commented, “our initial discussions with Inplas helped us to decide on dimensions, thickness of the acrylic, and positioning of keys features. They also used their knowledge to redesign aspects of the old cages with improvements such as replacing the metal hinges with plastic ones and using a different locking mechanism, and came up with solutions for slotting the extender and cage units together. We received our prototypes and were able to set them up to see how they worked in-situ; a valuable exercise. Inplas were happy to accommodate some minor changes and suggest further improvements, and provided us with a final CAD drawing that we could show to our colleagues before moving forward.”
“The final production was swift, and our new cages have been finished to an excellent standard. Not only are they highly functional but they also look very impressive and are admired by everyone. Thanks to Inplas and the materials they have used, we can be assured that the cages will last us for many years. It’s also good to know that we can return to Inplas if we need more in the future.”
“With our new cages now in place, we can continue this exciting research to find a safe, effective and long-term solution for the fight against invasive plants.”
For more information about approved Perspex® fabricators Inplas fabrications, visit www.inplas.co.uk.