Planned obsolescence and a 3D printed solution

Here at The Terrace, we are dreamers, we are thinkers and we work hard for positive change. The process from idea to detailed action plan has many phases. Some start on a small bench in the park, others with a nice phone call or after an interesting meeting. But all projects have a moment where we gather in out meeting room for a joint brainstorm session. We have our notebooks, our critical remarks, we laugh, have intense discussion and we vividly visualize everything on our NOBO© Flip chart. Till the day came when the connection part between the writing board and undercarriage broke.

Without this small piece, the flip chart became more or less useless. If we wouldn’t be The Terrace we would put the remaining parts outside, next to the garbage for the Tuesday evening pick-up, buy a €200,- new one and happily go on with our lives. But we are The Terrace and also for in-house challenges we seek circular solutions. This is not a grand story how we saved the world, but it’s the story of how we repaired our loved flip chart.

We don’t give you life-challenging answers, but at least we hope to inspire you to see your office equipment in a different way and think again, before you throw it away. And maybe, during the process, we can raise awareness that the production of office equipment, and production in general could shift to a more sustainable and circular model.

And so our journey begins…

Fien started with the main office suppliers in the Netherlands; Manutan, Staples and Viking. They did not deliver the part we needed without the whole flip chart. We tried the repair service, mentioned on the NOBO© website. They only repaired their beamers. In the mean time we had also contacted the NOBO© Europe customer service. When their reply finally came it was a ‘not deliverable’. This was simply not acceptable. In a time where sustainability and resource scarcity are high on the agenda we couldn’t just throw away the old and buy the new, because simply one part, nevertheless essential, was missing? I shared my worries with the customer service and after ten emails and fifteen days they send a request to the factory in China to send a spare part.

We still did not have my connection part. Bummer. I also hadn’t sit still. Meanwhile I contacted 3D Hubs if they could maybe ‘print’ me a new part for my flip chart. Unfortunately I didn’t have a STL. file (which you need to print 3D), but they linked me to a company, Van Alles Wat Ontwerp, who could design the STL.file of my connection part and print it. So with a hopeful hart I send the broken part to Van Alles Wat Ontwerp.

Nobo2 Nobo3 

A week later we received, neatly and well fabricated our missing link of the NOBO© Flip chart. Now happily in use again.

But this keeps you wondering, doesn’t it? How can something so simple, be so complicated? Why don’t companies repair services or spare parts? Most products have planned obsolescence, which means that they are designed to break down after a certain period. This cannot be the right way forward. We strongly believe that in rethinking your client journey, you tap into new business opportunities while lowering the stuff we needlessly throw out. WIN-WIN!

If you also have a broken connection part of the NOBO© Piranha Flip chart, please feel free to contact us for the STL.file, we love to share!

Feeling the fixing vibes? Here are some options for help:

Van Alles Wat Ontwerp – design & 3D printing
3D Hubs – 3D printing
Repair Cafe – Repair (almost) everything

Want to know more about planned obsolescence? This is an interesting item on ‘made to break’ by Economische Zaken from the VARA: (In Dutch)