A connection forms a relationship between two components.


A component is a part that cannot be further disassembled except by destructive means. Examples of components include batteries, cables, lighting elements, and plastic housing.

Design for Disassembly

Design for disassembly involves designing products to maximise the ease with which they can be taken apart for repair or separated for recycling. This involves reducing the complexity and number of tools required, reducing the time taken and minimising any permanent damage to the product.

Design for the Environment

Design for the Environment (DfE) optimizes a product’s performance over the complete lifecycle. DfE employs design approaches to reduce the overall human health and environmental impacts of a product, process or service, where impacts are considered across its lifecycle. DfE principles, first introduced by William McDonough Architects and Dr. Michael Braungart in 1992, have been expanded upon and adopted by design professionals, scholars and government agencies.


Disassembly is a process in which a product is separated into its components and/or subassemblies by non-destructive operations.


Disposal is the process of directing end of life material to discharge, such as incineration or landfill.


Downcycle is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of lesser quality and reduced functionality.

End of life

End of life (EOL) is the final stage in a product’s lifecycle, once the product is at the end of its useful life.


Fasteners are used to secure the connection between two components. Example of fasteners include screws, clamps and snap-fits.

Interchangeable components

Interchangeable components are made to specification that ensures that they will fit into any assembly of the same type.


A product’s lifecycle refers to the life of a product from its design, raw material extraction and manufacture through its useful life and into its end of life disposal, recycle or reuse.


Modular products are designed with well-defined functions and interfaces so that they connect together easily. Modularly designed products can also be disassembled easily without damaging components.


Recycling is the process of recovering scrap materials from products at their end of life stage and converting them to reusable materials.


Repair is aimed at restoring the product’s functionality after its failure. It often includes partial disassembly, component replacement and reassembly.


Processing an end of life product such that its full functionality is restored.


To change a product so that it can be used for a different purpose.


The use of components and modules obtained from end of life products as spare parts or in other products.

Reversible connection

Reversible disassembly operations are non-destructive actions that can be accomplished with relative ease, such as screwing and unscrewing or snapping and unsnapping. Reversible connections are important for repairing a product and not damaging fasteners or components.


Transforming products, which are not produced according to the standards, into products that meet the standards of properly produced items.


A connected set of components, such as a circuit board consisting of a PCB and soldered electronic components.

Separation (recycling)

Once a product has reached its end of life, the materials within it need to be separated in order for them to be recycled. The use of glue and other adhesives which prohibit this separation process makes recycling more difficult.

Upcycle (Upcycling)

To reuse discarded objects or materials in ways that create a new product with higher value than the objects or materials alone.

Source: Lambert, A.J.D and Gupta, Surendra M. (2004) Disassembly Modelling for Assembly, Maintenance, Reuse and Recycling. CRC Press