Every project should be designed for disassembly

Originally published at: Every project should be designed for disassembly | Boing Boing


Have you ever tried to move with Ikea furniture? It could certainly use this philosophy instead of breaking mid-shipment.

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On that same Bodum press pot, if the round plastic lid breaks (which they often do, the plastic disintegrating where the plunger rod passes through) good luck finding a replacement. (I suppose one could 3d print one if printer plastic can handle coffee temperatures.)

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I don’t know which device/model you have but on this page there seems to be more than one possible option, including ‘lid’ and ‘plunger with lid’.

But I guess you’d have tried that and it does not have the exact part you seek?

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Or buy a product designed not to break! I can’t be trusted not to break glass before I have had my morning coffee. After breaking my 3rd bodum carafe I switch to a frieling press and have been using it for over a decade.


Well, that would break the entire business model of all tech manufacturing. It makes sense in the economy of a hundred years ago, and it will make sense again when the goal of manufacturing is to produce things for the sake of the people who use them, rather than for the sake of producing things.

Also, your phone would be at least twice as thick. Which would be a good thing these days.


Dismantle and reassemble – worked fine for me. It doesn’t move too well if it is assembled.

I recently repaired a leak in a plastic kettle with a soldering iron, so far so good.


The chrome lids are great, but (a) don’t usually break on chrome press pots so don’t need replacing, and (b) cost more than entire replacement of a plastic-lidded pots. The plastic lids on that page are not for press pots, but for Bodum tea pots; no plunger hole.

Anyone buying a new Bodum press pot should avoid the plastic ones and buy metal.


I remember reading about a design movement years back to make mobile devices that would break apart into distinct, easier-to-recycle components when heated to a specific temperature (presumably after the battery was removed?) but I don’t think it really went anywhere.

What we really need to do is enact legislation that would factor the cost of disposal into the retail cost of all products so manufacturers become incentivized to factor end-of-life into all product design.


Resin flux?

My go to for high-temp repairs, plastic or otherwise, is QuickSteel epoxy. I once used it to jury-rig a valve patch on a pressurized steam tank for a commercial espresso machine. It was supposed to be a short-term patch, but was left in place for months of continuous use.

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Plastic sprue from a nephew’s model kit.

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And every part should be tagged with appropriate recycling markings. Ideally, these would lend themselves to automated identification (think of a barcode-style sorter that automatically routes ABS-tagged parts to the ABS conveyor belt in the recycling plant.)

Successful sorting 100% determines the value of the recycled materials. Any mixed in contaminants, whether they be glued on labels or cigarette butts stuffed in plastic soda bottles, can turn a valuable product into garbage.

Another related side of the discussion is spare parts. What obligation does a manufacturer have to provide parts? (If they don’t, I can buy used parts off eBay, so it’s not necessarily the end of the line.) Will this eventually require a manufacturer to keep 10% spares in their warehouse? Or does this count on “market forces” to pressure suppliers to make spares available?




Something needs to be done. The current business model is literally unsustainable. Like when Tesla wanted $16,000 to repair a car with a broken battery cooling system flange - they were going to replace the entire, otherwise fully functional $16,000 battery pack (and give no credit for the removed pack) instead of replacing the small plastic fitting (which is held on with two screws but fitted from inside the pack) or repairing it.

And it shouldn’t have cost $700 to fix, either. It should have cost maybe $150 because it was easy access and all they did was tap the fitting and repair it with a threaded pipe. And even that shouldn’t have been necessary because the easily breakable plastic flange should have been designed to be replaced.


A few years ago I was looking at a scheme to tag products with disassembly and recycling instructions. The idea is a barcode (or machine readable) tag that links to how to disassemble it to recover the recyclables.

The information would be things like “locate points A&B, clamp at points C&D, knife/chop 3cm from point A to separate case halves, case is ABS, neodymium magnets located 5cm from point B, heat to 150C to melt out tab E, etc.”

It would require incredible cooperation throughout the supply chain to make such a process feasible. But not impossible.


Ikea furniture - more specifically casework and cabinet like pieces simply do not stand up to being moved. The friction and cam-lock based connectors tend to pull out of the particle board panels and it comes apart like a house of cards.

You can try gluing all the dowels when you put it together. It will still be weak, but you’ll have a better chance of a move. Of course the easy and fast assembly then goes out the window.

looks like the venerable JB Weld.

Last week I tried to repair one burnt out heating element of an Oster toaster oven. But found that the elements were welded in such a way that it was impossible to remove them. So the whole thing went into the landfill.

As long as it’s cheaper to extract material from the Earth, build unrepairably, and dispose than to repair and recycle, I don’t see the situation changing. Of course, the real total costs get paid much later. How do we build them in to the initial cost?

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I have gone through 4 glass French presses before I bought a stainless-steel one. Quality of materials is also a factor.

A word from our robotic friends: