In addition to the rated lifetime (dimensioning) a timeless product design is one of the prerequisites for a reasonable lifetime of the product. If this is not realized, the product (and the resources used for its manufacture) will prematurely be transformed into waste because it has become old-fashioned. Well designed, timeless products gain value with time (see example: chair by Thonet). If it is not feasible to realize a timeless design for a certain range of products, another possible approach would be to make the external "shell" (characteristic look) of the product exchangeable so it can be adapted to prevailing fashions.
A high appreciation of the product on the part of the user is an important prerequisite for long use. Products that work well and that are appreciated will rather be repaired than exchanged for new products. This has also been shown by experience made in recently established repair and service centers. Thus, high appreciation means long use of the product and, consequently, minimum consumption of resources.
Long-lived products create maximum benefit for a long time with minimum input of raw materials and energy. The energy saving bulb, which lasts 8 - 10 times longer than conventional bulbs, shows quite clearly how the service life of products can be prolonged. This has been made possible by applying a new technology for the generation of light and by using long-lived parts and components.
A sturdy design, i.e. the ability to withstand a high level of stress and strain go together with a long service life of the product. Thus, robustness is an essential prerequisite for an efficient use of resources. At the end of life of a product an individual sturdy structural part may have the potential of being used in a new product after refurbishing. In addition to an optimal harmonization of the service life of the whole product and its individual parts the conservation of resources through re-use of (parts of) the product constitutes an important aspect.
Surface design has a great influence on the service life of products. The external shell and surfaces of the product have to be incorporated in an overall concept aiming at durability. The surfaces should be resistant to impacts and scratches and tolerate traces of use. Successfully designed surfaces in this sense gain quality and elegance with continued use. High gloss surfaces, on the contrary, do not meet these criteria.
As a matter of principle, design of each product and its parts, respectively, should avoid corroding surfaces of provide for simple and sufficient protection. Corrosion reduces service life and impairs possible re-use of the product or parts. It thus contradicts the concept of efficient use of resources. There are numerous guidelines concerning design and protective measures in order to avoid corrosion.
Harmonizing the service life of individual components will prevent the product from becoming waste after a short time and being discarded on account of minor defects. All parts and components of the product should be about equally durable. Certain parts will always constitute weak points, this should, however, not cause premature disposal of the whole product.
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