If you’ve ever marvelled at those flat-packed laser-etched sheets that can be folded and bent into detailed scale models, you’ll appreciate the effort behind new mobility start-up STILRIDE. The Swedish company has scaled up this technique, using an industrial robot to fold sheets of pre-cut recycled aluminium to create a full-size product.
This ‘industrial origami’ process, which the company describe as ‘a dance between robots and steel’ is called STILFOLD and makes for a very efficient use of materials. A single sheet of steel can be transformed into the structural core of a product, forming the chassis as well as the fairings. Developed by the company’s co-founders Tue Beijer and Jonas Nyvang, who came to the industry via fashion and industrial design, the first fruits of this new process is the SUS1, Sports Utility Scooter 1, due to enter production later this year.
The nascent company has been supported by Sweden’s innovation agency, Vinnova, with input from the product development company Semcon, the Brantheim steel workshop and the RISE research institute, as well as a key vested interest, the Finnish stainless steel manufacturer Outokumpu. Beijer has been designing electric scooters since 1993, and also has a stint working for the legendary Italian engineer Giotto Bizzarrini on his CV.
STILRIDE’s production process promises impressive gains. The company claims it needs 70% fewer components, one fifth as much material and labour costs are cut by a quarter. Another plus point is that products can be shipped as flat-packs, then folded into shape and assembled in the local marketplace, cutting transportation costs and the all-important carbon footprint.
The company claims a lengthy waiting list for the SUS1, which is a pleasingly retro-styled machine, a Vespa viewed through the lens of cyberpunk style. Nyvang, STILRIDE’s CEO, describes the bike as sitting ‘at the intersection of technology, mobility and design.’ He adds that the SUS1 is designed for everyone. We hope it can be an accessible entrypoint to the world of scooters and motorcycles for those with an eye for style and a love of nature.’
With stats, range, and price still to be confirmed, the SUS1 is the starting point for a whole range. Nyvang points out that the technology can easily be applied to different typologies – a cargo bike is reputedly in the works – STILRIDE hopes to blaze a trail for a more sustainable form of manufacturing, and zero-emission mobility is the obvious vehicle.
STILRIDE SUS1, details from Stilride.com
This article is part of The T3 Edit (opens in new tab), a collaboration between T3 and Wallpaper* which explores the very best blends of design, craft, and technology. Wallpaper* magazine is the world’s leading authority on contemporary design and The T3 Edit is your essential guide to what’s new and what’s next.