Students Design Recyclable Bloom Laptop That Disassembles Without Tools

A group of grad students from Standford University have won October’s Autodesk Inventor of the Month award for their unique Bloom laptop – a computer that was designed to be disassembled for recycling in just two minutes without any tools. Computer accessories and components often contain precious metals such as platinum that can be recycled, and as such, the Bloom laptop was designed to be broken down so that its various parts can be recycled with ease.

Actually, this laptop disassembly can take as few as 45 seconds, said Engel-Hall, who was a member of the design team. “This laptop represents a new class of electronic products,” he said. “You can disassemble this on your couch. In 10 steps. With no tools.

Engel-Hall talked about the project last week at Autodesk’s Sustainability Summit in San Francisco, where the company showcased the latest additions to its lines of design software and prominent applications of its tools — such as the design of the NASA Ames Sustainability Base that’s scheduled to open in May, the electric bike PiCycle that’s getting a lot of buzz, and the recyclable laptop.

The team had nine months to research, design and prototype their project and used Autodesk Inventor 3D mechanical design software and Autodesk Inventor Publisher to do it. The tools were invaluable in creating 3D prototypes and animated displays as the team explored ideas, considered materials, worked through various design problems and iterations, and created presentations of their project, Engel-Hall said.

Stanford Students Design Recyclable Laptop with Autodesk Inventor Software

The team calls its creation the Bloom Laptop, a name that reflects some of the group’s early ideas for a product. They included a hand-held device embedded with a bamboo seed (watering the device would make the seed grow and the growth process would break apart the gadget, readying it for recycling) and another hand-held product, whose parts could be fanned out like the petals of a flower for dismantling, Engel-Hall said.

While the team members loved the concepts, their research showed that no one else seemed to, so they discarded those ideas. “But we retained the name,” said Engel-Hall.

For their efforts, the team received the award for Autodesk Inventor of the Month. The laptop is still in prototype, or “proof-of-concept,” form and has not been picked up by any laptop manufacturers, although Engel-Hall said the team “might be interested” in developing this laptop technology further at some point.

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