Parents of college graduates often marvel at their progeny's ability to master complex subjects and earn advanced degrees in the disciplines, while apparently forgetting how to complete simple tasks like folding their own laundry.
A team of researchers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has bucked this stereotype by taking the art of folding to new levels. While looking for ways to cut the costs of repositioning empty shipping containers, the team envisioned a container that could be folded flat when empty and then popped open when needed. That concept became the basis for Holland Container Innovations (HCI), a company spun off from the university in 2008 to promote what it calls the "4Fold foldable shipping container."
With the backing of French transportation and shipping colossus CMA CGM, HCI has built a series of 40-foot prototypes that earned the Container Safety Convention (CSC) and ISO certifications, important steps toward widespread adoption. The concept took another step forward in 2016 when the European Union's Research and Innovation program cited 4Fold's foldable containers as a way to reduce empty transport costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, if only we could get those students to discover what happens to our socks when they go missing from the dryer ...