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On the topic of DESIGN...


Q1: What is the logic/reason on how it's shaped and/or configured?

The final form of Recompute was chosen based on several requirements of functionality, aesthetics, and manufacturing. Function wise, the case had to protect the electronic components, allow easy access to the internal chambers and allow airflow/ventilation for cooling. Aesthetically, the cases are made of cardboard, however when we think of cardboard we tend to think of cardboard box. Cardboard is a material and a box is a form; it was a separation the two ideas so that you knew it was cardboard but it was not a six sided box. The curve on the body serves as the focal point of the body. It is the one aspect that sticks out beyond all others.  In regards to manufacturing, the form is easier to manufacture, with less tooling and fewer manufacturing operations to make the finished case.

Q2: How did you come up with this idea?

Many people think that as a designers we sit around all day and stare at the wall... then Bingo the big idea hits us with all the details worked out. Well that is not how it happens! Design is a systematic process of observation, brainstorming, and questioning everything around us. Good design often takes months to years to develop, such as with Recompute.

The Recompute began as a design thesis project at the University of Houston attempting to answer the question "What is sustainability and design mean?" . The initial research and design for the first prototype took about eight months of long days, late nights, development tangents, constant observation and asking questions that few had the answer to.

Q3: Why Cardboard?

Recompute was developed using a methodology that looks at the entire object life cycle; we essentially looked at all kinds of materials that would lead to a better solution. Cardboard was at the extreme end of the materials spectrum to choose from. If it could be made of cardboard and it worked it would do two things: First, it would validate the methodology and concept. Second, it shows that more conservative materials could be substituted in place of cardboard.

Q4: Recompute is made from Cardboard won't it overheat and potentially catch on fire?

This is a multi part answer:

Cardboard does have insulation properties, however, the design of the Recompute case takes advantage of the fluting (aka the slots in the cardboard) to work as ventilation for the machine. In a traditional case the ventilation is often limited to a small port and fan in the back of the machine. What happens is the computer heats up and the hot air collects inside the case; it then must be forced out with a fan to make room for fresh cooler air. Often times this type of cooling system's efficiency is poor; and cooling fans have to work extra hard creating excessive noise. The case of Recompute is similar to that of a honey comb, and cool air can easily flow in and hot air can quickly radiate out with minimal load to the system fans.

Cardboard as a material is extremely heat resistant. Ever cook a frozen pizza on a cardboard disk? The ignition point of cardboard from heat is 800° Fahrenheit (427 ° Celsius); most of the common plastics used in traditional designs melt at much lower temperatures.

Second, the configuration of the Recompute case isolates the motherboard and power supply from one another. The power supply and mother board each have their own isolated chambers with ample ventilation for each; that means that the heat generated from each part does not affect the other.

Finally, as a safety precaution, every Recompute body is thoroughly treated with a Non Toxic UL tested flame retardant made by our friends at Flame Seal (who, by the way, also supply NASA and many of their contractors with non-toxic flame retardants). The flame retardant keeps the cardboard from catching fire and prevents a flame from spreading.

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