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The upgradable, recyclable Bloom laptop concept


November 5, 2010

Stanford's simple-to-disassemble Bloom laptop concept is designed for easy recycling

Stanford's simple-to-disassemble Bloom laptop concept is designed for easy recycling

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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.

The ME310 students won Autodesk’s Inventor of the Month award for this October. They were assisted in the Bloom project by students from Aalto University in Finland.

Via Core77

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Having written a long comment and then losing it due to time expiry I don\'t think I\'ll bother again..........who designs these sites? Ian Colley.


This is a good idea.

Facebook User

NICE JOB GUYS! I love it.

Which of course means it will never see the light of day, as nothing is proprietary.


Or you could just get a Mac. I\'ve taken apart dozens of laptops and recently had the pleasure of taking apart a couple of Macs. Refreshingly, they were held together with screws and made of aluminum instead of snapped together plastic. And, although the insides were a tight fit, there was nothing that couldn\'t be relatively easily replaced. The notable exception was the screen glass, which as the only think glued to the case.

Chris Maresca

If I had something like this I\'d upgrade or replace parts in it tell the chassis fell apart! :-)


Thanks for BETTER ideas....

If it\'s properly done, so that if dropped it won\'t go into a heap of bits, it will make for a practical PC.

Mr Stiffy

Also most of the hype about the latest and greatest laptops - are either due to one of 2 things, higher specs or bigger screen.

Really while there is all the mega trend laptops, I for one would rather tend to forsake the latest and greatest for a damned good utility model. A model T of laptops so to speak.

Mr Stiffy

This is a great concept and I would love to see it work - especially after trying to upgrade my laptop recently and finally deciding to just get a new one due t the difficulty migrating to a new hard drive. The problems tend to be software related. New OS, drivers, re-install, yada, yada. New components will have to have common driver structure which may limit long term upgrades. The OS and driver structure (and hardware interactions) that work today may not be supported three generations from now. This may or may no be a problem, I hope it is not.

Alternatively, I think the future is in extremely small computers with no keyboards and projected displays to greatly reduce the materials involved. Then the hardware required for an upgrade will be less than the size of the HDD in today\'s laptops.

Mark in MI

There have been modular laptops before with end user upgradeable components. The problem has always been a lack of industry standards for how the bits plug together.

That\'s always limited the number and specifications of interchangeable components, all always only available from the laptop\'s OEM.

When the manufacturer moves on to a new model line, all new development for the old modular line stops.

If a group of companies would get together and create a universal central laptop bus module with ports for a CPU carrier, video board, RAM backplane, and a pair of SATA drive ports for hard and optical drives, plus a \'generic\' backplane port where modules supporting all the other typical ports (USB, eSATA, Firewire, ExpressCard) in any combination could be plugged in.

The next issue would be how the cases provide access to the ports. Molded holes that are part of the cases wouldn\'t do. They\'d have to use fixed dimension port plates similar to ATX desktop PCs.

Given such a \'dream platform\' for laptops, the only things that would differentiate them is what components are plugged together and some exterior styling. In the long run it would save OEMs money because the internal tooling design could be reused over and over, but profit margins would drop to the levels of most desktop PCs.

Given all that, I still don\'t see a huge jump in the number of people upgrading a laptop by swapping out components. Most desktop computer upgrades are still done by replacing the entire unit, especially after two years as technology advances make it more cost effective = more overall performance for less $ than upgrading major parts like the CPU and video board.

Facebook User

Thumbs Up, way to go. The more \"closed loop\" systems mankind puts in place, the healthier, more efficient and survivable the planet will be d;-)


The only way you and I could get something like this is if we eliminate the positive rights laws of Patent and copyright. Invention is great and wonderful and raises the greater good IF it can be put into tangible production! Patent and Copyright may protect the interest of the inventor/producer, but they also hinder the use of prior art. Why? Because any invention utilizes prior art, so how do you determine the dividing line between what you just invented and what you learned from before your invention that made it possible for you to invent?

Without Patent and Copyright invention becomes unrestricted. Any producer who wants to can begin making real product incorporating the idea of invention. Think of it as the only socialism supported by Liberty.

I have wanted something like this laptop ever since I got my first one. It won\'t happen because every manufacturer wants to restrict access to their IP. The consumer does not gain by this. That\'s why all y\'all are stuck with Windows too!

Facebook User

\"Without Patent and Copyright invention becomes unrestricted. Any producer who wants to can begin making real product incorporating the idea of invention.\" No, 99% of invention will stop because there will be no motivation to invent and produce from that invention. Everyone else will just copy it anyway, so why bother? We need to tweak the patent system, not gut it and destroy all progress.

Mark in MI

@Mark in MI, most of the issues I\'ve had with Patents stems from the US Patent system. Such issues seem to fall into two categories 1) US patents granted on things that really shouldn\'t be patentable, thus allowing big US companies to go around retrospectively suing the world and his dog for patent infringements 2) the US ignoring UK and European patents and allowing US companies to patent something already \"invented\" elsewhere which brings us back to #1. There needs to be a much more sensible and common sense approach to \"Prior Art\" worldwide but in the US in particular.

Of course as a Brit I would say that wouldn\'t I?



\"That\'s why all y\'all are stuck with Windows too! \"

Speak for yourself.

Captain Obvious
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