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People.Planet.Product Student Design Challenge - Orbit



Oro presents Orbit as part of the People. Planet. Product Student Design Challenge hosted by Electrocomponents Grassroots and The Washing Machine Project. We intend to use our creative thinking and analytical skills to empower people and enhance their lives around the world.

Design Development

Rapid Prototype Development

Ease of implementation:

Orbit is an improved iteration of the DIVYA Washing Machine. To improve the DIVYA washing machine, we wanted to create a version that could be operated via pedals, making the product hands free when in washing use; similar to a bicycle, Orbit will feature a seat for the user to sit on whilst pedalling to make the design ergonomic.

This is to reduce pain from long periods of standing and frequent bending down, increased accessibility for elderly users and users with weaker standing posture or limited hand and arm mobility.

Much of our research is quantitative and qualitative data gathered from the DIVYA research report. 

Given the context of refugee camps, many of the clothes worn by the users are well worn and must be resistant to the uncomfortable living conditions within the camp, therefore the amount of apparel any one individual possesses is limited and a 5kg drum is adequate for their needs. 

The location of the refugee camp is also an important factor in the usage of Orbit. Regional traditions and norms based on the location of the refugee camp, such as the women doing the majority of the washing and cleaning have been considered during the development of Orbit, resulting in a design that is sensitive yet accommodating to these beliefs; whilst Orbit can be used by a large number of users including men, the design has taken extra consideration and precaution for female users attire such as skirts and dresses by ensuring the seating position is comfortable and allows formal use.

Orbit has been an almost entirely remote design process, with limitations to workshop spaces and prototyping tools. As such, much of the research and design development has been done with the tools available to us whilst building upon our own knowledge and that of the DIVYA project. 

The gear mechanisms and pedal rotation functions exist with products such as bicycles and paddle boats, our objective was to adopt this technology and adapt it to fit Orbit, resulting in a compact, ergonomic manual washing machine made from minimal materials that is suited to the conditions found in refugee camps.

The majority of the assembly is flat packable, therefore the user can easily fit the components together. The slots have a tight tolerance, preventing the structure from falling apart during use.

When transporting the product, smaller components can be placed inside the drum to prevent any loss of parts. As the product is mainly flat packable the parts can be taken apart easily to reduce the weight of the overall product to make it easier to transport. The washing machine can be placed easily on rough terrain due to multiple points of contact on the floor. Standard components and materials are used and can be sourced easily for local repair. 


Orbit is primarily made from three materials: 

Plywood, which is used for the frame, large gears and seat can be laser cut for quick and precise manufacture before being exported overseas to the refugee camp. Alternatively, jigs for the parts, similar to DIVYA, can be created and sourced to the product location. Tools required to create the parts include powered saws, drills and sanders.

Metal, which is used for the bike chain and smaller gears that attach the side of the larger Plywood gears, will be bought pre-made in the correct sizes, REMOVING THE NEED FOR TOOLING. Orders for spare/replacement metal gears and chains can be sourced with their availability being very common.

Plastic, which is used for the drum, is blow and injection molded for the body and lid respectively. The drum can be sourced with it’s availability being very common.


Orbit is primarily made of Plywood, given it’s abundance in availability, light weight and lasting durability as well as it’s resistance to outdoor elements. Plywood is a very common material in furniture making, further proving its effectiveness as a seat and frame.

Plywood is also used for several of the larger gears, these gears are attached to smaller metal gears that hold the metal bike chain. This ensures that the metal bike chain will not ‘erode’ the Plywood gears over time. 

The metal gears and metal bike chain are used due to their common use in machinery, bicycles etc. Allowing for reliable functionality and an easier understanding from the user, as bicycles use a similar function; the main difference being no front wheel, and the back wheel is replaced with a drum to place clothes in.

The wringer pins (Rolling pins) are made from Birch, and can be easily sourced to fit within the plywood wringer frame. 

Additional materials are identical to the DIVYA product, such as the drum being made from HDPE plastic which is highly durable and lightweight. Caster wheels needed for additional drum support can be easily sourced, with all Plywood parts using standard size screws to attach together.

Additional materials include Birch, metal screws and castor wheels which are all widely available and easy to source.

Supply Chain:

The components of Orbit are designed to be flat packable, with smaller components fitting within the drum; Orbit can then be made on location by assembling the drum, frame, seat and wringer together before building the pedal and gear mechanism. Once the two primary parts are made (Encompassing the manual washing machine and the pedal mechanism), the user can begin to use the product.


As Orbit is a development of the DIVYA washing machine, it uses a lot of the same components and manufacturing techniques with additional processes. Given the added complexity, components, materials and size of Orbit compared to DIVYA, Orbit cost more to manufacture and transport. 

Bill of Materials



Cost (£)

60 Litre UN approved drum



Lid Seal



Brass outside tap



Hardwood Plywood Board (L)2.44m (W)1.22m (T)18mm



494mm x 100mm straight pieces of wood (18mm thick)  



410mm diameter rim assembly



Back rest and seat  1  

Barrel support structure



Barrel gear



4mm diameter x 50 mm length wood screws



4mm diameter x 30mm length wood screws



M8 x 25mm length bolt



M8 Thin nut



M8 Washer



50mm Wheel



Beech Revolving Rolling Pin



Bike chain 



Used Bike crank and pedals







Orbit is an adaptation of the DIVYA washing machine, our objective in combining the research and development of the DIVYA project with our own design development is the create a more accessible version of DIVYA that can be used by more users that has the added functionality of wringing clothes for increased effectiveness in drying as well as washing. 

The use of a pedalling system akin to that of a bicycle and a traditional wringer component, combined with the pre-existing DIVYA design results in a product that is efficient in form and function. Thus presents an idea that is original in execution for a common problem within refugee camps. 

The principles of accessibility help to distinguish Orbit from the original DIVYA design, whilst commending DIVYA for its pioneering design with both products advocating a better life for people within refugee camps. 

The wringer is also designed as an addition to the manual washing machine, extending the products effectiveness beyond that of washing, 


The adoption of Orbit is more likely to succeed if the product adheres to the cultural traditions and normalities associated with the region Orbit will be used in. The demographics within these regions and those that will use Orbit are consistent with the original DIVYA users, the purpose of Orbit is shared with DIVYA with the only difference resting in the means of operation. It stands to reason that Orbit will be adopted just as well as DIVYA within the refugee camps.

To ensure the users know how to operate Orbit's pedal mechanism, a visual guide will be provided detailing how to use (As well as assemble) Orbit. A foot pedal with the same visual language as a bike foot pedal is used to visually communicate with the user how to use the product.

Cultural Relevance:

To ensure Orbit is inclusive to the users cultural backgrounds, the product has been designed to adhere to the needs of the users in a way that is understandable and recognisable. 

Bicycles are a familiar product to the user, even if the user themselves cannot ride a bicycle, understanding how pedals help to rotate the component shall be made clear given the inclusion of a manual; observing how the product is used correctly by other will also act as a way to quickly show other users how the product can be used.

Similarly, the wringer will also be detailed on how to use the product within the manual.

The product can be used to educate the user on how to wash clothes by providing a visual storyboard and manual on best practice. To make the assembly of the product easier, components will be engraved with numbers to guide the user through the process of assembly part by part.


Orbit is designed primarily with materials and processes also used in the DIVYA project, with additional materials consisting of Birch for the wringer cylinders, metal gears and a metal chain.

The bulk of the product is made from Plywood, which is a long lasting material due to it’s high durability, ensuring Orbit can be used extensively at no expense of material. If parts do need replacing, due to the flat packable nature of Orbit, parts can be easily removed and replaced without the need to discard multiple components at a time. 

The materials used are also all in abundance and can be sourced relatively easily. 

Design for Sustainability

SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation: Orbit is a development of Divya 1 therefore uses 20L of water per wash. The water conserved can be used for other purposes like cooking and sanitation. 

SDG 5 - Gender Equality: From the washing machine project field research, it is found that the primary washers in the family are the women and girls. Each wash cycle would last around 20 minutes for 5kg of clothes. The time saved from hand washing clothes could enable the females to make use of their time doing other tasks or get a job which promotes their independance.

SDG 3To decrease back pain and skin irritation, the user sits over the washing drum on a chair, offering back support whilst minimising contact with the liquid detergent as the drum is spun via pedals.


Overall, Oro has considered multiple paths of development for the product, thus minimising the material use, making the design as compact as possible to be used in a space efficiently and designing with the user's comfort and convenience in mind. 

NavpreetKaurS has not written a bio yet…

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