College student invents cardboard vacuum cleaner

Jul 07, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- In another attempt to reduce the amount of plastic refuse that winds up in landfills, Jake Tyler, an industrial design student at Loughborough University has devised a means to construct a working vacuum cleaner out of corrugated cardboard. The vacuum, developed as part of his final year degree project in conjunction with a design team from Vax, where Tyler is now employed, has its housing made of cardboard, while the inside motor works employs recyclable pure nylon plastic using rapid process manufacturing, rather than injection molding.

Called the Vax ev, the cleaner is designed to be assembled at home by the customer using the cardboard from the box in which it is shipped. The cardboard is pretreated with fire retardant, and because it is the corrugated variety, it is assumed it will be able to withstand the rigors of home vacuuming, though, it isn’t clear just yet how long such a would last. In its favor, the entire housing can be easily and cheaply replaced, and customers with some foresight might in fact purchase some extra corrugated cardboard from their local packaging store, along with their new vacuum and then use the original panels as a pattern for fashioning their own replacement panels thus avoiding having to go to the manufacture when their new vac runs afoul of some heavy furniture or perhaps a bit of a liquid spill.

Vax, the U.K.s leading floor-care brand says that the new model will be a limited edition, as it’s uncertain just how many customers would actually buy such an appliance.

The housings for traditional vacuum cleaners are generally made of injection molded plastics of the type that take a very long time to decay in a landfill and require large centralized plants to make, which means large transportation costs and more air pollution. With rapid process manufactured plastics, such as those used for the inside parts of the Vax ev, parts can be made almost anywhere, making it easier to set up small plants that are closer to the customer.

In an interesting side-feature, future owners of the Vax should be able to very easily customize their vacuums with felt tip pens, creating designs that might make the vacuum look a little less like a cardboard box with wheels, and more like a piece of art, or even perhaps, more like the plastic covered models that home vacuumer’s are used to seeing.

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More information: via Press release

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User comments : 23

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Nik_2213
1 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
Our cats would love to sharpen their claws on that ! Unfortunately, it might not be able to suck up the resulting shreds...
mrlewish
1 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
Who's interested in just cleaning cardboard?

:)
ArkavianX
1 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
LOL cats and cardboard would be a novel problem, of course as much as my mother's dog barks at the thing that would probably be worse.
krundoloss
1 / 5 (3) Jul 07, 2011
While a cardboard vacuum is an OK idea (not water resistant, major downfall), the idea of an item being its own packaging when shipped is very interesting. What if they made it out of a tougher material, like the plastic used to make postal bins (looks just like cardboard, but made of plastic instead). That would work!
Moebius
3.8 / 5 (5) Jul 07, 2011
Sounds like a good idea. I don't see any reason that a cardboard vacuum cleaner couldn't last as long as a regular one. Maybe longer since it will probably have more replaceable parts.

As far as objections go, regular vacuum cleaners aren't waterproof either and put it away when you aren't using it and the cats and dogs won't eat it.
david_42
2.5 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
I can see making a new enclosure in a different shape or size and moving the 'works'. Such as a taller unit for people that have trouble bending.
FroShow
3 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
I love the idea; I would buy it if offered...
But I don't think this idea would ever be picked up by any manufacturer;
Manufacturers build their products not to last, simply because in this modern day where style and technology are advancing at an every increasing rate, a product that doesn't break down (or can be easily fixed by the consumer) doesn't generate any repeat business ('needed' to keep up with the competition).
Stupid greedy business men.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 08, 2011
As a product... It sucks.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.8 / 5 (5) Jul 08, 2011
"Manufacturers build their products not to last, simply because in this modern day where style and technology are advancing at an every increasing rate..." - FroShow

Wrong. They build them to meet a price point at a level of unreliability that the consumer will not abandon the brand due to the inability to service and unreliability factors - if there is a brand.

And should the consumer abandon the brand, the Corporation will simply rebrand itself and start again.

The rule of Capitalism is in every product class to provide the consumer with the worst product at the highest possible price.

Period.
Magnette
3 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2011
I love the idea; I would buy it if offered...
But I don't think this idea would ever be picked up by any manufacturer;
Manufacturers build their products not to last, simply because in this modern day where style and technology are advancing at an every increasing rate, a product that doesn't break down (or can be easily fixed by the consumer) doesn't generate any repeat business ('needed' to keep up with the competition).
Stupid greedy business men.


If you read the article you will see that not only has the product been picked up by Vax but so has the graduate who came up with the idea in the first place.
Eikka
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 08, 2011

The rule of Capitalism is in every product class to provide the consumer with the worst product at the highest possible price.

Period.


Which the consumers are supposed to counter by favoring corporations that don't do this and spreading information about the products, because the consumer should at least attempt to make rational choises, which then drive the market to a more balanced state.

That said, there's absolutely no point for a consumer to purchase e.g. a hand drill of high quality, metal gears and all, if it's never going to be used more than a couple times to drill a hole in a wall. Resources would be wasted. A cheap plastic one can be had for £19.99 that will do the job quite nicely.

So when you complain that you can't find a drill that would last, maybe YOU are looking for the wrong products because you think they should all be £19.99 since that's how much the cheap "lite" versions are.
88HUX88
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 08, 2011
Excellent idea, clearly thinking outside the box.
_nigmatic10
1 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2011
..and for the next project, a paper shredder made of newspapers.
FroShow
1 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2011
@Magnette; DOH! I didn't reread the article before posting, thanks for the correction... nonetheless, I'd be pleasantly surprised if it goes beyond a limited edition.

@88HUX88; more like: "...thinking WITH the box."

@Vendicar; I can see your business model working, but only because there are competitors that don't subscribe to it. Cheap "No-Name" brands (what your fictive company would be selling) only do well because there's other quality brands to be compared against.
We can't all afford Cadillacs, so some will make do with Pinto's.
xznofile
1 / 5 (1) Jul 09, 2011
thin plywood is generally inedible
Vendicar_Decarian
2.5 / 5 (4) Jul 10, 2011
"Cheap "No-Name" brands (what your fictive company would be selling) only do well because there's other quality brands to be compared against." - FroSho

The perpetual failing of apologists to Capitalism is their refusal to accept the fact that brand quality exists primarily as an artificial tool to control and hoodwink the consumer.

Corporations regularly flood the market with alternate products containing designed flaws that artificially limit the lifetime of products to provide an excuse for the existence of higher prices on essentially the same product design.

Automobiles are a prime example of this hoodwinking of the public, where new models are rolled out yearly, simply to provide the consumer with a false sense of choice and in this case the competition with the inability to create replacement parts.

In both instances the consumer gets screwed.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.5 / 5 (4) Jul 10, 2011
"Which the consumers are supposed to counter by favoring corporations that don't do this and spreading information about the products" - Eikka

One of the prime goals of every corporation is to keep the consumer ignorant about their product.

It is just as true today for drill makers as it is for the tobacco industry.

Manufacturers know the failure points and modes for every one of their products.

As a consumer... Why don't you?

Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Jul 10, 2011
"That said, there's absolutely no point for a consumer to purchase e.g. a hand drill of high quality, metal gears and all, if it's never going to be used more than a couple times to drill a hole in a wall. Resources would be wasted." - Eikka

Yup.. It might cost a whopping 10 cents more.

Such a waste.....

On the other hand the plastic gears will wear out or break in short order, and then the entire drill will have to be thrown out.

Which is the greater waste or resources?
Thex1138
1 / 5 (1) Jul 10, 2011
This does not help our situation. It becomes disposable. So more people will chuck it out, more electric motors in the tip... Why not go the other way and make a reliable product of which the motor can be swapped out when it breaks down... Btw my Dyson DC05 is still going strong since 1999!
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011

On the other hand the plastic gears will wear out or break in short order, and then the entire drill will have to be thrown out.

Which is the greater waste or resources?


The one with the metal gears.

Because the average person who buys a drill to put a painting on a wall will drill exactly three holes: one for practice, one in the wrong place, and another one where the wife really wanted the painting to go.

Then the drill is going on the upper shelf in the backroom closet.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011

Yup.. It might cost a whopping 10 cents more.

Such a waste.....


It's not going to cost 10 cents more. It's going to cost at least twenty pounds more to make, and a 100 pounds more to buy, because it's so much cheaper to make tons of plastic gears and gear housings on a pressure mold rather than cast/forge and machine metal into a precision gear.

You have a highly skewed view on what things cost because you're so used to to the cheap crud on the shelves that you think real quality is only a matter of a bob more. It might be in some cases, but on a drill it isn't.

Don't think the customers are totally ignorant on these points. I am a customer, you are a customer. We know what we're getting into.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011
Why not go the other way and make a reliable product of which the motor can be swapped out when it breaks down...


That would require a hand-accessible mount for the motor and fan assembly, which considerably increases price because it's no longer as easy to machine-assembly the same product.

You put nuts and bolts in it, you have to make a machine that tightens nuts and bolts to assembly it, or pay some workers to put them together. The other alternative is to take the motor, push the rotor on the axle and plastic weld two halves of a plastic housing around it using ultrasound at a rate of two hundred units an hour per machine.

Again, it's what you pay for.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011
Besides, the people who actually buy things like high quality hand drills are professionals and companies who use them to do actual work, and they drive the market prices in that bracket.

And the only reason they are willing to cough up so much is because of the fact that tools and equipment are so often tax-deductible.

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