Sustainable Design Awards Toolkit
Section 4.5 - Design for disassembly
This area covers products that are produced with disassembly in mind
therefore are easy to repair, upgrade and disassemble at the end of life.
An example of this would be a modular computer chassis like those produced
currently at 'Dell Computers'. No tools are needed to disassemble its
modular architecture, the covers are simply removed by pushing two
release buttons. The product is more economical having easy to use
fasteners on its removable individual components. The limited use of
screws with little adhesive, leads to easy maintenance and upgrade on
IBM are another leading company in the computer business that are
considering and using more sustainable principles by considering disassembly
in their products. IBM have stripped their machines of adhesives and
now employ 'Dart' fasteners to hold foam in place of the less sustainable
method. This is not only of benefit to the environment, IBM have also
seen a number of benefits from this change intact. Assembly workers
no longer have to deal with toxic fumes from the adhesives, IBM themselves
no longer have to store or handle the hazardous materials - saving
costs. Above all it improves the products' disassembly, it is easier
to separate components that may be recycled.
At present most products are disassembled using hand or robotic methods,
and sadly neither are a huge consideration in the majority of products
on the market. There are a few though for those who do consider it.
The disassembly of a material may be improved is 'Active Disassembly'
using Smart Materials, known as ADSM. The use of ADSM also allows
for increased recyclability in consumer products to be integrated
alongside the properties needed from the products' materials to fulfill
its function. There are two main areas, Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs)
and Shape Memory Polymers (SMPs) that are being explored by various
institutes regarding ADSM, Brunel University are at the forefront.
The whole principle behind both sets of materials is that the specific
material will change shape under a certain change of temperature specific
to that material. The material is basically used as an actuator and
various releasable fasteners to aid in disassembly are being investigated.
Signs are that these could prove the future for better disassembly
and for better products.
Research into new technologies
Dr Blue Ramsey of Brunel University's Department of Design
is developing research into social and technical issues involved in environmentally
sensitive design. This is currently centred around new more sustainable
methods for creating printed circuits using offset lithography to form
the circulation paper & other flexible media.
Dr. Ramsey's work is an example of the research and development going on
throughout the world seeking more sustainable products and methods for the future.
Inspirational Current Work