If you think that using cardboard to build a gadget is crazy, think again; over the years, several really creative inventors have done it – from cardboard bikes, boom boxes, computers, portable scanners, clocks, cameras, speakers, laptop cases, and stands to name a few.
In 2011, Vax unveiled the world’s first vacuum made from cardboard, called the Vax EV; it received acclaim by being nominated as a finalist in the 2012 Design Excellence Awards and the Birmingham Made Me Design and Innovation Award. However, there was also skepticism about how this product would cope with everyday wear and tear.
To give you a brief background, Jake Tyler then a student at Loughborough University and an intern at Vax, designed a vacuum made primarily from recycled corrugated cardboard commonly used in packaging, the aim was creating a sustainable and green product that will drastically reduce plastic waste that’s a big threat to our oceans. Vax was so impressed with his idea that they hired him as a full-time employee to see the project through.
I discovered the Vax Ev while researching an infographic about the history of vacuum cleaners and was amazed at the creativity needed to pull this off.
It’s been two years since this product was introduced, and I was curious how the project was progressing, so I contacted Jo Sawyer of Vax and asked her a few questions about the developments and the future.
Vax has had lots of very positive feedback about the cardboard vacuum. People are normally surprised when it operates just like a conventional premium Vax vacuum cleaner, only one made of cardboard.
If all goes well in terms of consumer testing, when will we see the first commercially available cardboard vacuum?
Vax is still evaluating the cardboard vacuum, but many of the learnings from this project will see the light of day in future Vax products.
It was mentioned in a lot of online articles that because this used recycled materials, it’ll essentially cut down on production costs. Would you mind telling us how much it would cost? If there aren’t exact numbers, maybe you can give a ballpark figure 🙂
Unfortunately this information is confidential, but the cardboard vacuum still contains the same premium motors, cables and accessories as a conventional Vax vacuum cleaner and therefore is not especially cheap to make, just kinder to the environment.
In some online articles, some have questioned the quality and robustness of this product saying it may last only a few weeks, what is your reaction to this? and how will you address these potential issues?
There are many different types of cardboard, some of which are very robust and this is part of Vax’s ongoing evaluation. However, part of the charm of using cardboard is that your vacuum cleaner will wear in and develop its own unique character over time.
For me personally, my biggest concern is the availability of spare parts, particularly the outer cardboard shell. Will this be available online or only through local service centers?
We are still investigating the best way to make this available, but alongside offering a complete shell through the normal channels, one option is that Vax would publish the pattern for the cardboard shell online. This would allow DIY-biased owners to make their own new shell out of otherwise discarded boxes they have at home.
How much suction power does this have? Would it be at par with Vax’s canister or upright vacuums?
Vax would only launch a product that matched our customers’ expectations. There is nothing about the way we have constructed the Vax cardboard vacuum that would mean it performed less well than any other Vax.
If you’re interested in testing this and see for yourself if it truly is a worthwhile product, head over to their website and let them know that you’re interested in testing a prototype.
Before writing this product off, remember that it takes time to perfect something and smooth out the rough edges. Heck, it took James Dyson over five years and 5000 prototypes to perfect the bagless technology that was thought impossible to accomplish at that time.
Feb 20, 2023: Edited parts of the article for better readability.