Probably one of the most unlikely concepts to come down the pike recently is that of a vacuum cleaner with a corrugated cardboard housing. The motor inside the cardboard housing includes components made from recyclable pure nylon plastic built with rapid-manufacturing methods. While at Loughborough Univ. in the U.K., student Jake Tyler worked on the project with designers from floor-care-manufacturer Vax as part earning a degree in industrial design.

The “Vax ev” vacuum cleaner is intended to be assembled at home using the cardboard box the unit was shipped in. Once users separate the cardboard parts from the box, the parts pop into place around the motor housing, without any need for glue. The cardboard comes pretreated with fire retardant.

Says Tyler, the corrugated cardboard should withstand the hardships of home vacuuming but it isn’t clear yet how long cleaners will last. However, this might be a moot point because the entire housing can be easily and cheaply replaced. In fact, users with foresight might purchase extra cardboard from a packaging store and then use the original panels from the vacuum cleaner as patterns to make a replacement. According to Vax, the new model will be a limited edition because the company is unsure whether there is a market for the design.

That said, the unit could appeal to the green crowd because traditional vacuum cleaner housings are usually made of injection molded plastic that takes a long time to decay in landfills. The housings also require large centralized plants to make, resulting in steep transportation costs and adding to air pollution. In addition, the rapid parts in the motor can be built almost anywhere, making it feasible to set up small plants closer to customers. “With sustainability an increasing concern for manufacturers, the Vax ev shows what can happen when young designers are encouraged to think creatively and push the boundaries of product design,” says Director of NPD at Vax Paul Bagwell. “It’s important that manufacturers support young designers because they are critical to our country’s future success.”

Resource: Vax, www.vax.co.uk