Design

Design for disassembly/deconstruction

Design principle that calls for the end-of-life options of how the product, components and materials can be deconstructed.

Designing for disassembly has several benefits. It can make it easier for your product to be repaired or upgraded, prolonging its useful life. It can also help ensure your product is recycled and enable whole components to be reused. In fact, the degree to which your product can be disassembled easily often determines how the product will end its life.

Designing for disassembly involves some straightforward tactics, for example:

  • The fewer parts you use, the fewer parts there are to take apart. 
  • As with parts, the fewer fasteners (e.g. glue, screws, etc.) used, the better. 
  • Common and similar fasteners that require only a few standard tools will help to simplify and speed disassembly.  
  • Screws are faster to unfasten than nuts and bolts.  
  • Glues should be avoided.  
  • Building disassembly instructions into the product will help users understand how to take it apart.

Resources

Example

Dell: Easy disassembly, minimal glues

Situation

  • Electronic companies are under pressure to address accumulation of electronic waste.
  • Waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) such as computers, TV-sets, fridges and cell phones grew faster than most waste streams in the EU, from 9 million tons generated in 2005 to an expected 12 million tons by 2020.
  • Moreover, the production of modern electronics requires the use of scarce and expensive resources (e.g. around 10% of total gold worldwide used for their production).

Challenges

  • WEEE’s complex mixture of materials and components that — because of their hazardous content, and if not properly managed — may cause major environmental and health problems.
  • Government agencies and companies recycled only 16 percent of the world’s e-waste in 2014.
  • Customers choose where to send their old equipment, which creates challenges for Dell’s collection systems.

Solution

  • Dell designs their products for longevity and recyclability, ensuring that it’s easy to disassemble and process at the end of life.
  • Dell collaborates with asset resale and recycling partners to incorporate key design features that ensure ease of disassembly.
  • The Del XPS 13 Ultrabook uses polymer-reinforced carbon fibers conform to EPEAT criteria for recyclability.
  • Products are designed with recyclable materials, modular and standardized parts, minimal glues and adhesives and disassembly in mind.
  • Dell offers free computer recycling to their customers.
  • Dell has banned export of their e-waste to developing nations.

Key benefits

  • Awarded Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Award for Design for Recycling in 2014
  • Since FY08, Dell has recovered more than 1.4 billion pounds of used electronics. They have a 2020 goal of 2 billion pounds