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Three years ago Israeli engineer Izhar Gafni decided to design the impossible: a fully functional bike made almost entirely out of recycled cardboard. Like anyone entering unchartered waters, Gafni spent most of his time in the R&D phase. “Since there was no know-how with regards to the cardboard materials, the first two years were devoted to learning the properties and behavior of the material,” he said.
To lend the materials strength, Gafni applied the principals of origami. “You fold it once and then it doesn’t become twice the strength, it’s almost three times the strength. I took it from there and did the same thing with cardboard.” After the cardboard is cut and folded into shape, it’s painted with a waterproof, fire retardant coating specially engineered by Gafni, who then finishes it off with lacquer.
Not only is manufacturing process low impact, the bike is cost effective and lightweight. An adult bike weighs 20 pounds and costs $9.50, and the children’s version weighs 7.75 pounds and costs a mere $.475. Gafni and his business partners at the Israeli investment group ERB are still raising funds and tweaking the design, but Gafni said the finish product will also have an electric option.