A lot of makers find themselves annoyed by throwaway products that can’t be fixed and are hard to open. Check out this interesting article by Alex Diener discussing the phenomenon from the opposite perspective: an industrial designer’s. To illustrate, Diener attempts to open up a busted iron (video above).
Design for Disassembly is a design strategy that considers the future need to disassemble a product for repair, refurbish or recycle. Will a product need to be repaired? Which parts will need replacement? Who will repair it? How can the experience be simple and intuitive? Can the product be reclaimed, refurbished, and resold? If it must be discarded, how can we facilitate its disassembly into easily recyclable components? By responding to questions like these, the DfD method increases the effectiveness of a product both during and after its life.
Our ancient tools, meticulously crafted from natural materials and intended for repair and reuse, are perhaps the earliest example of DfD. During the 1950’s rise of consumerism, fueled by mass production methods, cheap labor, and design fashion, disposability became the norm. Over time, the waste created by planned obsolescence and a throw-away culture was exposed. Organizations studied the negative impacts of toxins found in our product waste and governments began to regulate. In 2004, the European Union passed the landmark WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive, placing the responsibility of disposing electronic products with their manufacturers. This tectonic shift was recognized as a sign of things to come by global manufacturers, driving interest in the DfD strategy.
Remember, if you can’t open it, you don’t own it!