Flaxseed and water bottles? Lenovo’s design experiments try it all

Flaxseed and water bottles? Lenovo’s design experiments try it all

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“When we speech astir design, we speech astir quality and purpose, and our narration betwixt design, idiosyncratic experience, and engineering. It is truly what helps Lenovo thrust innovation,” Brian Leonard, Lenovo’s vice president of design, told Digital Trends successful a video interrogation astatine Mobile World Congress 2022.

One facet of plan driving Lenovo astatine the infinitesimal is sustainability, and with its 30th-anniversary solemnisation of the ThinkPad enactment successful afloat plaything this year, we spoke astir however materials are changing the mode it makes its products, and however computing whitethorn look successful the years to come.

Using aluminum

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga ammunition  showing the ThinkPad logo.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

“The mode we attack plan is not astir what’s the caller colour oregon shape, but much astir what’s going connected successful the world. What are the changes and shifts that we spot happening,” Leonard said. “There are a mates driving america close now, and 1 is sustainability and a absorption connected however bash we marque a amended spot for each of america to live.”

Leonard noted a peculiar involvement successful materials. He singled retired the recent ThinkPad X1 notebook, which is built utilizing titanium, and however the institution had shifted distant from existent leather successful its products to lone utilizing vegan leather, arsenic good arsenic the usage of cork for the Lenovo Go wireless keyboard and mouse. However, it was the notation of aluminum that piqued my interest, arsenic it’s a worldly galore whitethorn instrumentality for granted. What makes it truthful special?

“I volition accidental aluminum is 1 of the champion materials we use. It has been with america for a agelong time, but it’s truthful important due to the fact that it’s 100% recyclable. It ne'er loses its properties aft it has been recycled, and it retains its spot and beauty. Any discarded coming from it gets recycled, and each the recycled cans and products travel unneurotic to marque a caller material. Our ThinkPad Z range is made from 75% recycled aluminum.”

[Aluminum] ne'er loses its properties aft it has been recycled.

He besides talked astir the mode Lenovo specifically works with aluminum.

“One happening we bash is alternatively of starting with a coagulated artifact of aluminum and machining it down to the smallest happening possible, [we] commencement with a forging process to bang the aluminum into a signifier that’s adjacent [to the last product] to minimize the magnitude of clip and vigor it takes to instrumentality it to the last accumulation part. It saves time, vigor and reduces waste, yet it’s inactive conscionable arsenic beautiful.”

In summation to aluminum, Leonard besides spoke enthusiastically astir magnesium.

“Magnesium is fantastic erstwhile we’re much focused connected value and strength. For the ThinkPad 13s, the magnesium successful it is 90% recycled. It helps marque the notebook bladed and light, and erstwhile you see the agelong artillery beingness [the artillery successful the ThinkPad 13s tin past up to 28 hours], it shows plan and engineering coming unneurotic to deed the idiosyncratic acquisition saccharine spot.”

Packaging and plastics

Making the merchandise retired of much sustainable materials is lone portion of Lenovo’s plan activities. It’s moving hard connected the packaging side, too.

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s surface  showing documents.Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

“If you look astatine immoderate of the packaging, particularly successful the ThinkPad Z range, we person taken each portion of integrative retired of the packaging, including each the small baggies and enactment cards. It was a simplification process for us, truthful we could absorption connected things we tin recycle. The interior container is 100% compostable, arsenic it is made from bamboo and sugarcane fiber.”

There is 1 large integrative point inactive successful the box, though, and that’s the charger. Apple and Samsung don’t see a charging block with its apical smartphones, reducing some e-waste and packaging materials. Lenovo inactive includes a charger with its laptops, truthful however does this acceptable successful with its propulsion toward much sustainability?

“We’ve had a batch of conversations astir that,” Leonard revealed. “We’re seeing the manufacture consolidate down to USB Type-C, and that makes it easier to marque the charger a delete portion of the product. We haven’t solidified our plans, but it’s decidedly a speech and an important portion of sustainability due to the fact that you person to speech astir each touchpoint. One happening we person done with our chargers successful the ThinkPad scope is displacement each the plastics to 90% post-consumer content. It’s a tiny measurement forward, but the adjacent measurement whitethorn beryllium to marque that charger optional.”

Fabrics and flaxseed

Lenovo is besides utilizing integrative to make different materials.

“There’s a batch of caller innovation successful fabrics,” Leonard to us. “All of the fabrics we usage successful our products, similar the Yoga 6 convertible, each of it comes from a axenic watercourse of h2o bottles. You get a truly cleanable proviso of the material. It takes 2 h2o bottles to marque the cloth screen for the Yoga 6. These are meaningful things.”

Lenovo is experimenting with earthy materials, including flaxseed and banana husks.

Looking further into the future, Lenovo is experimenting with earthy materials, specifically mentioning flaxseed and banana husks, which are being examined successful ways to assistance trim value successful aboriginal products. However, uncovering a spot for these caller and antithetic materials won’t hap overnight, and his effect shows the challenges manufacturers look erstwhile moving with new, untested sustainable materials.

“The earthy materials instrumentality clip to study. At Lenovo, we person rigid requirements astir driblet tests and performance, and we person to deliberation astir bash we alteration those requirements, oregon bash we person to propulsion the caller materials to conscionable our requirements? Those things instrumentality a batch of clip and innovation, and due to the fact that [the materials] aren’t successful our mean proviso chain, we person to enactment with radical to recognize however to usage them. These are the experiments we are doing now.”

The adjacent 30 years

Sustainability and moving with caller materials volition undoubtedly power the aboriginal of Lenovo’s hardware, but arsenic Leonard pointed retired during our conversation, the notebook itself hasn’t drastically changed successful plan implicit the 30 years since the ThinkPad archetypal launched. I asked what this meant for the adjacent 30 years.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme with apical  open, showing the ThinkPad logo.

“There’s a immense opportunity,” helium said. “When we commencement to deliberation astir computing successful the future, my extremity is for it to consciousness much of a earthy idiosyncratic acquisition and much of a narration experience.”

He agreed that hardware whitethorn go little important implicit time, and said that it whitethorn adjacent go invisible (not literally, we would assume), arsenic we determination toward a much voice- and video-led idiosyncratic narration with computers astir us.

“We walk a batch of clip talking and dreaming astir this,” helium smiled. “Not lone are we moving connected the devices we privation to enactment into a container time oregon successful 2 years time, but we’re besides trying to forecast retired wherever we privation to beryllium successful 5 years, 10 years, oregon 30 years time.”

Leonard concluded our chat with wherefore this matters, and however it ties into the company’s sustainability efforts:

“If we illustration a northbound prima of wherever we privation to beryllium successful the future, it’ll mean we instrumentality a antithetic way toward it versus conscionable trying to amended what we’re moving connected today,” helium said.

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