Challenging a sticky bestie

What happens if you challenge a best friend? To find out, we invited four mechanical engineering students to come up with ideas for an even better BÄSTIS lint remover.

Last year IKEA customers bought almost 17 million BÄSTIS lint rollers. Whether your clothes are covered with pet hair, dandruff or any other nine hundred and ninety-eight reasons you might need a quick swipe with the sticky stuff the one Euro BÄSTIS is your bestie. At IKEA, we decided to challenge a favorite, and invited Fanny Linander, Ludvig Lindsjö, Rebecka Karlsson and William Erim, Master of Science students in Mechanical Engineering at Lund University, to come up with ideas for a lint remover to compete with BÄSTIS.

Product development at IKEA is based on an understanding of the changing needs of people’s lives, and collaborating with others is one way to create the best possible products. As part of IKEAs transformation to a circular business, the commitment is to use only renewable or recycled materials to make products by 2030, so we asked the students to approach the lint remover assignment with circular thinking—not only including the whole lifecycle of the material used but also explore different ways to use collected and recycle plastics from the ocean or in close proximity to the ocean.

After a few weeks of material research in parallel with sketches the team and IKEA in-house designer Andreas Fredriksson meet at Ingvar Kamprad Design Center in Lund, where the Department of Design Sciences at the Faculty of Engineering, Lund University, is located. The students describe that they have been working with the five dimensions of IKEA Democratic Design, and that they now have three ideas for an easy to use product at the lowest price possible using circular materials. The first one, a product similar to the best-selling BÄSTIS but reusable thermoelastic sticky surface instead of disposable sheets, is the one they are struggling with the most.

“You need a material you can rinse without losing the stickiness, and also a case to keep it in. Even though it was my favourite, we decided to let go of that idea,” says Ludvig.

The second idea brings back memories. Who doesn’t recall the classic black lint brush with a velvet-like nylon mesh, usually spotted in your grandparent’s hallway? For this workshop, the students brought one from the 70s or the 80s, that surprisingly still works.

“This is the kind of lint brush you inherit! I suggest you analyse the material to see if is possible to weave material with the same attributes using recycled PET bottles,” says Andreas.

The third idea is to make a brush out of thermoplastic elastomers, easy to grip and use whether you are five or ninety-five.

“Natural rubber is not always sustainable. In this case we would use thermoplastic elastomers with the same characteristics as rubber, to build up static electricity when using the brush,” says Fanny.

Designing a circular product is always a collaboration between the customer and the producer.

“We know that the customer wants to do the right thing, and recycle the right way. If a global company like IKEA can make it easier, it is only for the best, and a product you don’t have to disassemble before recycling is a good example. In this case it is possible to use thermoplastic elastomers together with widely used polypropylene, since they are recycled the same way,” says Fanny.

How will you continue with your ideas?

 ”Up until now, it has been about exploring whether something might work or not. Now it is time for confirmation. For example, finding out if it is actually possible to use polypropylene for weaving and get the attributes we want,” says Fanny.

Continuing with the design part they asked Andreas for advice.

“I suggest you make models out of clay, to find out how each product is to hold. The feel in the hand will decide the shape in the end and if it will be a product people will use for a long time,” says Andreas.

At IKEA we appreciate sharing our insights and knowledge about product development with the students. IKEA has several ongoing collaborations with different universities to building bridges, and we really appreciate being challenged with fresh ideas from the students.