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Sussex design graduate one step closer to prize

Ben Thomson's Clip to Clip

A University of Sussex product design graduate has got through to the next round of the prestigious James Dyson Product Design Prize with his end-of-year project.

Ben Thomson's product, Clip to Clip, is one of only 20 UK entries to get to the second stage in the world-wide competition.  Clip to Clip is a range of fasteners designed to simplify disassembly of electronic products, where existing techniques are destructive, time consuming and bad for the environment.

Ben's Clip to Clip fasteners are highly intuitive and are designed to be used in closed-loop systems (where any part of the product being made is capable of being recycled to create another product). Ben worked on the speed and ease of assembly and disassembly, ability to compete with screws, intuitive design and minimizing recycling contamination.

Initially Ben set out to design a whole new product but after research at a television disassembly facility in Lewes he realised that redesigning the clips that hold the components together would be just as useful and get to the root of the problem.

As he explains: "I did lots of research into recycling in the local area before coming across MDJ Light Brothers in Lewes, which was a really exciting experience and allowed me to shape my product towards the right market. This is one of the largest, widest growing and dangerous waste problems in the world and proved to be really challenging, even for such a small fixing component!

"I was inspired by the 'cradle to cradle' system which basically says that if you can sort out the bits of a product cleanly, those components should be able to be recycled directly into similar high quality parts. This is contrary to what happens now which is actually 'downcycling': the different plastics from a mobile phone are mixed up when the phone is shredded and sorted out afterwards, and by this time the plastic isn't as valuable, and has lost the qualities that made it suitable for a phone in the first place. Now it can only be used for a traffic cone. And that can continue through several cycles.  Clip to Clip makes sorting the good materials from the bad really easy."

Ben worked with staff at the university of Sussex School of Engineering, The Royal College of Art, who provided most of the developmental prototypes, The Product Workshop, moulding engineers from 'Deutsch' electrical connectors and 'Fastplas', an injection moulding company, to design the prototypes that earned him a First class degree and the award of Best Product Designer of his graduating class.

Ben is currently looking for work as a product designer and is hoping his achievements in the James Dyson Product Design awards will stand him in good stead with future employers.

Information about  the James Dyson Product Design Awards is here:


Product Design at the University of Sussex can be found here:


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By: Danielle Treanor
Last updated: Monday, 10 August 2009