Lifetime Design

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Lifetime design is a prerequisite for democracy. Overstatement? Not really. With design-for-obsolescence - the result is an ongoing treadmill of replacement cost at a regular interval. The value of a product literally becomes zero once something breaks - even if 90-99% of the parts in it are perfectly sound. This is a considerable drain and waste of energy, as now people are forced to make up for the loss to maintain their standard of living - instead of pursuing anything else with higher purpose related to their autonomy, mastery, and purpose (as in Self-Determination Theory)

Think of the and Walmart goods which lose value rapidly, such as some appliance or consumer item that lasts on average anywhere from a 90 days to 10 years. Consumer durables (cars, appliances) should last 3 or more years. Think about the American car junkyard: cars that are 90% sound but one thing deemed 'too expensive to repair' is wrong. There is a 10x factor of waste if parts can't be reused - due to lack of standardization and part proliferation. As a result, lives are spent trying to secure the cost of living. This contributes to financial insecurity. Financial insecurity can strike on the reptilian brain of humans, causing other societal problems.

We can probably agree that lifetime design would add significant value - a considerable 10-100x the value! Imagine you can upgrade your goods, or modify them, for as long as you like. Due to modular, lifetime design - design for disassembly and serviceability. Critical modules from consumer goods should be readily replaceable, and standardizes, and open design.

To achieve lifetime design, flexible manufacturing must be implemented. This could be in the form of Open Sector enterprises which focus on humanity, not profit. Wealth distribution to all - by retaining wealth in products - and retaining wealth in communities. In a flexible manufacturing enterprise, a wide array of products can be made efficiently. More generalized parts would be used. Much Technological Recursion would be achieved so that many parts and technologies could be produced locally from abundant and recycled materials. Thus, repair costs could go down - if design follows open, modular standards. Highly flexible production within Integrated Enterprise would be required. The basic concept of cost reduction by integrated enterprise is that with a 100x the product line, Construction Set Approach, Modularity, Technological Recursion, fully Circular Economy, Open Sector Enterprise - access to wealth becomes highly distributed. The open sector enterprise would have to do a superior job in terms of making popular participation in the design process universally accessible - so that people can take collaboration with advanced machines readily. Thereby, the promise remains one of ready access to self-production by automation, rapid learning, CNC assist, robotic assist, Rapid Learning Facilities, etc.

The basic promise is one of imagining: what would happen if the cost of living was guaranteed to everyone? But without a welfare state - and instead replaced by a condition where anyone could produce anything on demand? What would people then do with their lives, if they were freed to unjob to pursue their passions? This is completely possible today, though much struggle and violence still remains with respect to resources, and people still cannot get along. Mutually assured abundance could certainly help to remedy this condition.

Last, lack of lifetime design is part of a Coordination Problem. For example, in a car junkyard, if parts were coordinated (standardized) - then one could take the 90% of good parts and make 90 working cars out of 100 junk cars. Can we begin thinking of this potential?


Lifetime design refers to the design of the Anthroposphere and biosphere with long-term benefit and value in mind. It is part of a Longtermism perspective. It can be applied to products, institutions, and and entire civilizations.

In products, planned obsolescence is a norm in modern economies, but it's extremely wasteful. Replacing material objects because they break requires human energy, and is one of the main reasons that the Myth of Technology runs our lives.

By introducing lifetime design - we gain at least 10x in resource efficiency - and we believe that will be the natural evolution of human economic systems once the ranks of production swell with enlightened economic actors who follow principles of lifetime design.

Lifetime design requires:

  1. Open source design - so that technology is transparent and can be fixed. Bills of materials, CAD files, build instructions must be available.
  2. Design-for-Disassembly
  3. Modular Design
  4. Design-for-Repair
  5. Use of COTS parts
  6. Local service infrastructure, such as Open Source Microfactories.

Implementation in the Technosphere

  • Steel over lumber as appropriate
  • Rock over concrete as appropriate
  • Concrete over rock as appropriate
  • Stainless steel - investing in chrome content in steel making
  • Galvanic kettles for everyone - galvanized steel
  • Self-oxidizingvaluminum as appropriate
  • 3D print recycling in plastic - 5x minimum lifetime extension
  • Thermoplastic elastimer tires - 5x longer life.
  • Induction furnace - upgrade old steel to new

Areas of Endeavor

What is lifetime design in product design? How about in biosphere design? Design of living ecosystems? Here we go through areas of endeavor and make some notes on how a lifetime design perspective is applicable.

Plant Breeding

Most plants today are designed (bred) for cloning, such as asexual propagation, or are even engineered to produce infertile seeds (terminator genes). This is short term design which has point advantages, but at the cost of high maintenance and of susceptibility to a lack of adaptation to pests, environmental conditions, etc. Cloning is non-adaptation - as offspring are identical (non-evolving). Instead, seed-based propagation is a lifetime design principle - when applied in the form of Swarm Breeding. This way, offspring retain desirable properties (such as big fruit) while remaining adaptable, such as pest-free.

Consumer Goods

All of Amazon and Ebay and Big Box stores. Instead of consumer goods, these shift into consumer durables with lifetime design via:

  • Open Design so that the inner workings are always clear and production blueprints are available digitally, for manual or automated production of replacement parts and upgrades
  • Open sector production capacity
  • Permanent part producibility
  • Modular product ecosystems for interchangeable parts
  • Upgradeability - new modules allow the product to evolve over a lifetime.

How to get there

Opening design, introducing collaborative design open source microfactories, using modularity, and enabling local service infrastructure will get us there. This relies on making design transparent, parts and blueprints available, Degeneracy, and creation of local enterprise ecosystems based on flexible fabrication, rapid augmented learning, open design, and automation.

An instance would be an open source microfactory, withembership so either you if trained or qualified staff could produce things for you on demand, quickly, from abundant modular, optimized design. Assisted with digital fabrication and advanced production capacity that starts with basic optimized tooling. Facility produces concrete, metal, glass, plastic, engines, precision parts, semiconductors from raw feedstock. Same old same old - requirement is liberated technology. No new tech needed, just reorganization of all known techics.

Warranty Examples

  • Briggs and Riley - [1] - lifetime replacement or repair. No proof of purchase needed, no questions asked.
  • Roomba - [2]
  • Free sharpening - [3]
  • Knives - for life, even if you are not the first owner - fix or replace - [4]


  • Entrepreneur magazine article - [5]. In 2005, our team hesitated before offering an unconditional lifetime guarantee; we were initially concerned that people might try to take advantage of the offer. However, we quickly saw that a request for repair or replacement was also a golden opportunity to re-engage and impress our customers. In time, our guarantee became our most valuable word-of-mouth marketing tool.


Companies and websites that sell lifetime design products:

Lifetime Design Websites

Lifetimes of Materials

Taken to Lifetime of Materials