The Recycleable Bicycle

September 16, 2008 at 9:49 am 2 comments

While pondering the UK bicycle theft rate a design student at Sheffield Hallam University in Stockport, England came up with a plan to thwart would be thieves. Making the bike out of inexpensive materials and easy to replace would lessen the likelihood that the bike would be stolen.

Phil Bridge, who is also an avid cyclist, settled on the idea of making a bike out of cardboard. Through some trial and error and a lot of hard work, Bridge’s concept soon became reality. As a highlight to his academic achievement, Bridge’s design was showcased at “Creative Spark”, the University’s end-of-year design exhibit.

When people asked him ‘why cardboard?’, Phil responded, “I was looking at bicycles and how people use them and one of the main problems to me seemed that they were too valuable. People don’t want to invest in a bike which cost a lot of money and then leave it on the street where it could be damaged or stolen. So my main goal was to completely devalue the bike into something that everyone had that could be thrown away, left anywhere and you wouldn’t have any worries about it.”

Bridge originally experimented with different types of cardboard, but eventually decided on hexacomb board, which has a honeycomb structure and is often used for engineering purposes. He found that hexacomb was more structurally sound than corrugated cardboard, which failed the initial load test. A single sheet of hexacomb is sufficient to produce a single bike – frame, fork, and wheels – which can be purchased in bulk for approximately $5.50 US. Factoring in the cost of the chain, tires, and other non-cardboard components, Bridge calculates that total cost of materials to be about $27 US.

When questioned about the performance of his bicycle design, Bridge answered, “It was never designed to be a performance bike. It was designed for everyday use, so people riding it slowly to get from place to place – not the Tour de France!”

Others have questioned longevity of the design and the use of cardboard in rain. Bridge reports that his design is expected to be serviceable for up to six months, based on nominal usage. As far as it’s ability to hold up in rainy climates, Phil responded, “It’s inherently waterproof at the point of manufacture and it’s been used in outdoors. In some instances it’s been used in housing and for advertising hoardings.” Though Phil added, “If you use it the way most people in England use bikes, it’ll probably last forever because it’ll be sat in your shed!”

Bridge hopes to work with a company who would produce the cardboard bicycles. He also envisions a recycling program:

“Once you’ve used it, you’d return it they’d give you another one, they’d take all the metal components out and put them into a new frame and the old frame would go back to the manufacturer.”

By briansrapier

[via BBC]

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Entry filed under: Awards, Business, Environment, Fun, Informational, Manufacturing, Research, Starting a Business, Technology. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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