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Sustainable Material Selection:Guiding the Multi-Criteria Process to Design for Sustainable Innovation
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In the past decades, the world has noticed complex changes in its climate. The resources available now as well as in the future could be said to be analogous to the decreasing circumference of a funnel. The wealthy population with the means to elect what goods they wish to consume are becoming aware of their impact both on nature as well as on the less fortunate people of the planet. As a consequence environmental and human-centered factors are of higher priority than ever before in the decisions made by companies, which in turn will decide the future. This thesis aims to investigate what set of criteria can be seen as most relevant for sustainable material selection at a manufacturing company. To be relevant for the future these design criteria are decided with a base in modern research from the past decade in the field of material selection. The company chosen as a case to study and collaborate with was IKEA Components AB. The research was conducted on-site at the company’s facilities in Älmhult, Småland, as well as at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, Blekinge. The company vision for the future which IKEA is striving towards is focused on lowering carbon dioxide equivalents, from which a lion share of the emissions is a result of the material they are selecting for their products. Experts within various fields of the chosen company were consulted to gain perspective and knowledge while designing and testing prototypes of a tool to facilitate a sustainable material selection. The metal alloys were analyzed for toxicity based on the percentages of all elements they contained and scored based on chosen sustainability criteria. The plastics were judged on recyclability, renewability, and degradability apart from available numbers for emission factors. After this, the materials were placed in the excel tool which was then tested by engineers and evaluated in semi-structured interviews. Updates were made to make the tool as user-friendly as was possible and new tests were conducted. Overall, the tool was appreciated by the users who tested it and more improvements were planned to finalize the prototype. Results are detailed in the latter part of the report, discussing designs the engineers preferred over others, the current scale of sustainability tools used in the company and how the testers scored the tool. In the discussion, criteria are evaluated based on their multi-criteria compliance with sustainability factors. Drawing conclusions about the subject of sustainability criteria was accomplished by conducting literature studies in material criticality, making use of the methods for sustainable product development taught in the master of science, investigating material toxicity, testing solutions for sustainable material selection at a typical furniture component manufacturing company, receiving feedback from constructors and exploring connections for the selected methods to the principles of sustainability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
Sustainability Criteria, Material Selection, Environmental Guidelines
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-18869OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-18869DiVA, id: diva2:1367823
External cooperation
IKEA Components AB
Subject / course
Degree Project in Master of Science in Engineering 30.0
Educational program
MTACI Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-11-05 Created: 2019-11-05 Last updated: 2019-11-05Bibliographically approved

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