Innovation That Matters

The 3D-printed chassis | Photo source EOOS

Plastic waste used for 3D-printed electric tricycle

Mobility & Transport

The ZUV can transport two people at a time, as well as two children or an equivalent amount of cargo

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Spotted: The Australian design firm EOOS has developed the first model for an electric tricycle that can be 3D-printed from discarded plastic packaging, left over by supermarkets. 

The “ZUV” (zero-emissions utility vehicle) as called by the company, was commissioned for the Climate Care exhibition at Vienna’s Museum of Applied Art and is part of the Vienna Biennale for Change. The design was carried out by EOOS NEXT, the company’s social design arm, in collaboration with manufacturing company The New Raw

The ZUV can transport two people at a time, as well as two children or an equivalent amount of cargo in the transport box at the front. The hope is that the design could replace some of the car runs that we use to transport heavy loads over short distances. The tricycle has a powered hub motor at the rear wheel and does not need pedals or a bike chain. 

“A lightweight vehicle has the benefit of having less effort in the production but it also uses less energy to transport people. The more sustainable you want to make a mobility system, the less weight it should have,” EOOS founder Harald Gründl says. 

Seventy kilograms of plastic packaging waste sourced from supermarkets are used to make the tricycle. Moreover, 3D-printed technology will allow them to print it locally rather than shipping it around the world. “We wanted to design around local, affordable production,” Gründl says. Finally, for 3D printing, New Raw uses machinery that itself is made from discarded industrial robots. 

The company also said that high labour costs in Europe oblige most bike frames to be produced in Asia. However, EOOS aims to have a local ZUV production facility in every city around the world. EOOS envision “a local economic cycle” for users to 3D-print the polypropylene chassis, allowing specific components to be mended and replaced close to home. The goal is that the chassis could be ground-up and re-printed to make another ZUV. 

The design process, however, does not count any emissions related to producing the supermarket packaging. But the brand says that recycling eliminates “end-of-life emissions when the plastic is incinerated”.   

Whether the final product is carbon free will be related back to the energy mix used in the specific city where it is being charged, and the proportion coming from renewable sources. 

Written By: Katrina Lane

Explore more: Mobility & Transport Innovations | Sustainability Innovations



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