Right to repair

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


November 7, 2021


Right to repair

(ref. BAP-2021-732)

Last modification : Thursday, October 7, 2021

The research group on Life Cycle Engineering of KU Leuven consists of a broad multi-disciplinary team focused on the study of different phases of the product development cycle: from creativity stimulation and problem solving at a design level till conceiving the end-of-life treatment systems for discarded products. An important objective for the research group is to quantify and minimise the environmental impact in each of these product life cycle phases in a total life cycle perspective. The Life Cycle Engineering research group has built up considerable expertise in business model development and impact reducing measures for the design and life cycle management of products. The research group has excellent links to product developers, consumer organisations and governmental agencies working on new policy development leading to impact reduction in the manufacture of consumer products and household appliances. The facilities of a well-equipped FabLab and the involvement of Maakbaar Leuven as a quickly growing citizen driven repair community are part of the experimental environment in which the envisaged research can be conducted.

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The ever shorter functional lifetime of products is often not in proportion to the energy input and material resources invested in their manufacture. Early failure of products is a source of frustration for end-users who would prefer better repair opportunities than commonly offered by manufacturers and distributors for most product categories today. The limits of willingness to accept a lifetime reduction seem to be reached more and more often. The ‘right to repair' is a concept that is gaining visibility in this context. New information access options and logistical solutions for spare part supply, as well as distributed manufacturing capabilities offered by 3D printing techniques, create new perspectives for repair strategies. Exploring these with partners from product developers/manufacturers, representatives from consumer organisations and from repair oriented citizen initiatives provides a new research challenge.

Research project

In the context of an Interreg project, Sharepair, the KU Leuven Life Cycle Engineering research group has the opportunity to launch a new PhD project focusing on repair of products as a strategy for reduced environmental impact and improved profitability of enterprises. Factors that allow to more systematically achieve product life time extension by appropriate repair activities will be studied. We want to focus on the different mechanisms in a business to consumer relation that obstruct or facilitate repair and the measures that can be considered to make extended product life cycles a more evident scenario. Innovative business model opportunities and technical bottlenecks that may be overcome by new manufacturing capabilities will be explored in close cooperation with consumer organisations, manufacturing companies and repair communities. Already identified relevant factors to consider are internet facilitated diagnosis systems, innovative logistic supply systems for spare part supply and distributed manufacturing capabilities as facilitated by 3D printing.

Besides the Sharepair project environment, this research can also benefit from ongoing projectssuch as the ‘Smart Region' initiative on ‘Internet of Washing Machines'. Remotemonitoring of washing machines by means of sensor units will be explored withimportant market players and derived business opportunities will besystematically modelled to assess their feasibility.


Candidates should have a strong background in product development and a solid interest in eco-design and life cycle engineering. They hold a relevant engineering degree and have distinguished themselves during their studies. Good knowledge of Dutch is an important asset taking into consideration the required interaction with the different regional interest groups.


The research group offers an insipring work and study environment, a chance to contribute to societally relevant developments and an extensive network, both regional and international, of relevant partners as required for data collection, feedback and concept validation.

Remuneration is comparable to the start salary of an engineering graduate in industry.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Joost Duflou, tel.: +32 16 32 28 45, mail: joost.duflou@kuleuven.be.

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

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Right to repair

The research group on Life Cycle Engineering of KU Leuven consists of a broad product development cycle: from creativity stimulation and problem solving at minimise the environmental impact in each of these product life cycle...