Inventing the Cardboard Bicycle

By Humans Invent on at

Would you have thought it possible to make a bicycle from cardboard? It may seem like an unlikely form of transportation but one such inventor, an Israeli engineer and systems developer, Izhar Gafni, has created a bike made from cardboard that is strong, waterpoof and costs just £10 to manufacture.

The invention is made durable by folding over sheets of cardboard to double their strength while it is coated in a waterproof resin. The only parts of the bike that aren't made out of cardboard are the brakes and chain -- even the wheel base and seat are crafted from the recyclable material.



Grafni, who started work on the concept over three years ago with his company Cardboard Technologies, came up with the idea when he heard about a man who had built a cardboard canoe. Hopefully, this year will see the bike put into full-time development after it received financial backing at the end of 2012 from a company called ERB. His dream is that the bike becomes a means of cheap transportation in the developing world.

Grafni said: "Since there was no know-how with regards to the cardboard material, the first two years were devoted to learning the properties and behaviour of the material.
"The idea is like Japanese origami. You fold it once and then it doesn't become twice the strength, it's almost three times the strength. So I took it from there and did the same thing with cardboard.

"It looked like a packing case on wheels. Not a bicycle. Like Henry Ford who made the car available to anybody, this bike is going to be cheap and available to any child in the world, including children in Africa who walk dozens of miles to school every day."


Advanced origami

Grafni has already invented a prize-winning pomegranate peeling machine, a smart robot for sewing shoes and a climbing machine for disabled people.

An ERB spokesman said: "Cardboard Technologies is a all about making a better world for us to live in by two main principals: creating the ability to produce almost any daily product from at least 95 per cent recycled materials and building auto production lines, with a simple post-production assembly that will be performed by people with difficulties or disabilities.

"The biggest challenge of the Cardboard Bike project was to learn and develop a whole new know-how of cardboard. The challenge was to take the cardboard material and pass it through a set of treatments, to replace the raw materials of plastic, wood or metal. Nothing is impossible if you have patience and you are persistent."

Grafni claims the bike can withstand water and humidity, as well as being stronger than carbon fibre, able to carry riders weighing up to 220 kilograms, costing between £6 and £8 to produce.

You can keep track of the project here. Who knows? 2013 could be the year we all buy a cardboard two wheeler.

 Humans Invent is an online space dedicated to celebrating innovation, craftsmanship and design fueled by our most natural instinct – the pursuit of invention to help solve a human need. You can read their original article here.