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Sustainable Design: How to Create an Environmentally Sound Product

In order to create an environmentally sound product, the principles of sustainable design should be considered throughout the lifetime of any new product development project. This blog articles explores some of the ways we implement sustainable thinking into our designs:

Functionality

With our engineering mindsets, functionality of the product is key. You make think how does the way a product function link to sustainability? Well people do not want to keep ‘Hard-to-Use’ products as they become frustrated, leading to them being disused and eventually discarded. If products are designed sustainably with the ideas of User Centred Design (UCD) they will not only function more effectively but will often offer a product that consumes less energy.

Form

Form plays a huge part of the design process as we all want to design a product that is interesting to the eye, but we must consider the environmental impact of these designs. We frequently question ourselves on things like; whether the shape of the product will affect energy consumption regarding the creation of tooling, how will the shape affect the packaging demand and transportation costs, can this shape be optimised for design for disassembly?

Material Selection

Material choice plays an essential role in sustainable design, we actively try to seek the material that offers the best solution to the design whilst also being environmentally friendly. For example, our work with Snoreeze removed the need of to supply a set of disposable tongs with each product thus reducing the environmental impact of the design. Whilst the polycarbonate packaging can be recycled at the end of its life.

Cost

We all appreciate that projects have a budget, but it is our job to ensure that all materials and manufacturing techniques have been fully considered. We weigh up the options and guide our clients to the most sustainable and cost effective one. For example Option 1 – Tooling & Manufacture completed in Asia with products being shipped to the UK [Lower tooling cost but higher distribution costs] Option 2 – Tool produced in Asia, shipped to the UK for manufacture meaning no need for product distribution [Large shipping fee for tool but little to no product distribution].

Design for Disassembly

DfD is very high on our priority list when designing products, although we want to design durable products, we accept one day they will need to be disassembled due to technical advancements, wear and tear, etc. We actively reduce the number of different materials in our designs as we know this will ensure separation is as seamless as possible. This provides new design challenges and encourages us to be creative with our solutions, an example of this is the button on the UriCheck-60 instead of using a conventional metal spring, we used the elasticity characteristics of plastic to recreate the up and down movement, thus allowing the button to function as intended while also removing the need for another component.

If you would like to talk with us and find out how we can help support your next sustainable design project, please email gethin@iterate-uk.com or call 01291 442181.