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Modular products: Smartphone design from a circular economy perspective

: Schischke, K.; Proske, M.; Nissen, N.F.; Lang, K.-D.


Fraunhofer-Institut für Zuverlässigkeit und Mikrointegration -IZM-, Berlin; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -IEEE-:
International Congress Electronics Goes Green 2016+, EGG 2016. Proceedings : Inventing shades of green; September 7-9, 2016, Berlin, Germany; Proceedings
Piscataway, NJ: IEEE, 2016
ISBN: 978-3-00-053763-9
ISBN: 978-1-5090-5208-0 (Print)
International Congress Electronics Goes Green 2016+ (EGG) <2016, Berlin>
European Commission EC
H2020; 680604; sustainablySMART
Sustainable Smart Mobile Devices Lifecycles through Advanced Re-design, Reliability, and Re-use and Remanufacturing Technologies
Fraunhofer IZM ()

Currently a range of modular smartphones is emerging, including the Fairphone 2, Puzzlephone, Google's Project ARA, RePhone, LG's G5 and others. In an industry of perceived short product cycles a modular design concept might become crucial for longer product lifetimes. The paper provides an overview on latest product developments and assesses these against environmental criteria, including longevity, durability, upgradeability, repairability and Design for Recycling and Reuse. Modular product design however is not necessarily the most sustainable design option. Modularity first of all means inevitably more material consumption, as additional sub-housing and universal connectors are required, partly also a larger total product volume to allow for incorporation of the maximum potential configuration and anticipated future technologies. This has to pay off through a significantly longer use of individual devices and modules. It depends furthermore on the user, if the intended replacement of broken modules by new ones helps to keep whole devices in use much longer or if the user just replaces individual modules much more frequently to keep pace with latest technology features.