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How Framework is helping fix our unsustainable electronics industry

The company makes it easy to repair its laptops and has created a marketplace for replacement parts.

How Framework is helping fix our unsustainable electronics industry
[Illustration: Israel Vargas]

This story is part of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2022. Explore the full list of companies that are reshaping their businesses, industries, and the broader culture.

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At first glance, Framework’s laptop hardware looks as slick as any other $1,000 Dell or HP machine, with a crisp, bright display and smooth glass trackpad. The difference lies in how easily you can take the device apart.

Framework, which started shipping it last summer and sold out almost immediately, proves that easy-to-repair electronics are eminently possible. The laptop comes with a screwdriver that lets anyone remove the keyboard and access the internal components underneath, each labeled with QR codes for looking up detailed repair instructions. The bezel around the display attaches with magnets, so users can pry it apart and replace the screen or webcam. The side ports are replaceable, so modules for USB, HDMI, and the like can be mixed and matched. As the laptop’s processor ages, a newer one can be installed.

Alongside the laptop itself (available in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, and the U.K.), Framework has also built a marketplace for replacement parts, and later this year, the company plans to open it up to third-party vendors, with the idea that eventually users can buy and sell components with one another.

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“It’s really about fixing what we see as a pretty broken industry,” says founder Nirav Patel, “with this default assumption that these products—even though they’re extremely expensive and advanced—are basically disposable.”

Framework isn’t alone in trying to simplify device repairs. Apple, for instance, plans to sell replacement parts directly to users this year, and has gradually cut down on adhesive in products such as the MacBook Pro, whose battery now comes with convenient pull tabs. But by making every part replaceable and selling all the components itself, Framework is leading the charge toward easy-to-repair electronics.

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About the author

Jared Newman covers apps and technology from his remote Cincinnati outpost. He also writes two newsletters, Cord Cutter Weekly and Advisorator.

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