Corrugated cardboard can be traced back to the latter part of the mid-19th century, although cardboard itself goes back much farther than that. Most of us will have encountered it at some time, probably as the outer packaging of our latest digital must-have, but it has recently been breaking away from such traditional uses. Over the past few years, we've seen everything from a cardboard record player to a festival tent to a USB drive. Now, industrial design student Jake Tyler has created a prototype cardboard vacuum cleaner - the Vax ev.

Tyler worked on his final year degree project at the Vax headquarters in Worcestershire, UK as part of a student placement scheme and with the support of the company's New Product Design team. The Vax ev has been built with maximum sustainability in mind, but not every component can be made from cardboard (or we'd be forever having to go to the hardware store for replacement parts).

Non-cardboard parts have been made from recyclable, pure nylon plastic using rapid process manufacturing rather than injection molding. The Vax ev's corrugated cardboard panels benefit from a flame retardant coating and actually start life as part of the retail packaging that the cleaner is transported in - gluelessly popping into place around the non-cardboard motor housing.

If the corrugated panels get damaged (and if the cleaner gets knocked around half as much as the one I have, it will probably suffer dents and rips fairly early in its operational life), the relative cheapness of replacement manufacture should mean that they can be swapped out for pristine new ones with few problems and little expense. The outer casing can also be personalized with the aid of a few marker pens.

Vax says that it is currently looking into producing a limited run of the cardboard cleaner. We'll keep an eye open for further developments.