MASTERTHESIS, winter 2015 / 16
In our previous studies we developed knowledge and deep awareness about sustainability. As the Master‘s thesis was one of our last greater possibilities to work on a free project, we decided to chose an issue which contains our passions – bicycles and sustainability.
We placed the focus on cargo bikes as they are a very sustainable way of transport.
But do they get manufactured in that way?
How can we produce a cargo bike frame in a more sustainable way?
Through deeply researching and analysing the lifecycle of a bicycle frame we realised that there are two main sections which are pivotal for the energy footprint.
MANUFACTURING OF THE MATERIAL
For example the amount of energy to produce aluminium is over 120 times higher than for wooden sheets.
AMOUNT OF TRANSPORT AND DISTANCES
It can be that bauxite, the base material of aluminium get extracted in Australia. Than get shipped to China to manufacture aluminium and afterwards the frame for the European market will be produced in Taiwan.
FROM CONCEPT TO DESIGN
„Think global – act local“
Our most promising approach for the transfer from concept to design is based on a digital file from where it is possible to manufacture a cargo bike frame locally anywhere in the world. The idea is taking advantage of the increased availability of digital fabrication through maker spaces and similar facilities. The design allows the user to make or to get a frame from one sheet of local plywood through the use of a CNC milling machine.
We developed a modular connector system where the pieces of 12mm waterproof glued plywood are plugged together and get fixed through bolts.
Our second prototype worked very well and the weight can keep up with aluminium cargo bike frames on the market.
The design allows an openness for customisation and personalisation of the frame to the user needs. Replacing parts or disassembling the frame is also possible if needed.
We would love to see our concept global! With different materials or different sheets of plywood from local wood. We will make our design files open source as soon as possible. It will take a little bit more time because we want to optimise and improve some details to make sure everything is working properly before we release them.
Collaboration / Veit Penzenstadler / Christian Steffens
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)