It’s a given that we will one day be discarding our present laptop computers. It’s also a given that e-waste is currently a huge problem, that looks like it’s only going to get worse. While most of the materials in a laptop can be recycled, all of those pieces of glass, metal, plastic and circuitry are stuck together pretty tight, and require a lot of time and effort to separate. What is needed are laptops that are designed to be taken apart, for easy recycling – that’s why a group of graduate students from Stanford University made one.
As part of Stanford’s ME310 industrial design course, design software maker Autodesk asked the students to create an easily-recyclable consumer electronics product, using the company's software. What they came up with was the Bloom laptop, which can be completely disassembled by hand, in under 30 seconds, and in ten steps. By contrast, a traditional laptop requires three tools, up to 120 steps, and takes about 45 minutes.
Needless to say, this limits the number of computers that can be taken apart in one day, making the recycling of them less financially-viable. It also leaves the disassembly process in the hands of trained workers, whereas the Bloom can be taken apart by its owner.
A by-product of making the computer modular was the development of a detachable wireless keyboard and trackpad – a feature that allows users to type from wherever they wish, without having the screen right there in their face. Upgrading is also much easier, as users can just pop out the obsolete piece, buy a new one, then pop it in.