Published May 15, 2012
For those who think plastic is just some material used in throw-away mass-produced trinkets, take a look at this lovely film produced by Persol showing ‘The Magnificent Obsession of Hand Making’ their signature sunglasses. Beginning with the hand-mixing and coloring of the acetate, the insertion of the ‘Victor Flex’ nose bridge, the meticulous bending, forming and polishing of every surface and ending with the precision installation of the hardware, this is clearly a labor of love and thoughtful design. These are not the sunglasses you carelessly leave on the beach.
For those materials geeks out there (you know who you are), the frames are made from a natural material: cellulose acetate (sometimes just called ‘acetate’), which is derived from cotton and tree pulp. In the eyeglass industry, the material is referred to as ‘zyl,’ short for zylonite, the trademark name for cellulose acetate. One of the most versatile of all plastic frame materials and the most commonly used, the frames are milled from blocks of zyl, which come in an enormous variety of colors and patterns. In the video, you can see them combining different colors to create the ‘tortoise shell’ effect in the material.
As opposed to injection molding, cellulose acetate is formed into thick blocks from which the glasses are machined, formed with heat and hand polished. Heat is also applied so it can be stretched for lens insertion. The resulting product maintains many of cotton’s natural properties – hypoallergenic (allergy free), warm to the touch and pleasant on the skin. Other than it’s more expensive than injection molded plastic, the only downside is that it doesn’t do well in high heat (don’t leave them in the car on a hot day) and that it tends to oxidize with a milky white film over time. Regardless, cellulose acetate is the most commonly used material for high-end plastic eyeglass and sunglass frames.
You’ll have to watch this a few times to catch all of it (I suggest watching on Vimeo).
[via Product by Process]
Published May 15, 2012
“They don’t make them like they used to.” Well, maybe they still do…
Enjoy the British Council Film from 1945 on how a Raleigh bicycle is made. Despite it’s almost 70-year age, this film is still a very comprehensive review of many of the metal manufacturing methods I just finished teaching at NC State College of Design. From tube bending and roll forming to forging and stamping, this covers many of the same processes used to today on bike manufacturing. Sure, there’s no carbon fiber or CAD models and not as many gears on that bike, but there’s a lot to be learned by young designers today.
Published February 22, 2012
Tags: micro machining
When you consider how complicated it is, it’s impressive. When you consider the scale of this mechanism, it’s simply amazing…
Scientists at Harvard University have been working on developing bio-inspired robots. They are designed to work as an insect would, interacting with nature, serving an integral purpose, and they are able to do their work autonomously. The Harvard Monolithic Bee (affectionately called “Mobee”) is a millimeter-scale flapping wing robotic insect produced using Printed Circuit MEMS (PC-MEMS) techniques. This video describes the manufacturing process including carbon fiber and polyimide film laminates, adhesives, micro-machining and an assembly technique inspired by pop-up books. Watching the finished bee rise out of the frame is mesmerizing.
The published paper on the project featuring additional images can be downloaded here.
Such an elegant design. Well done.
Published December 6, 2011
Nike Sportswear has released the Vac Tech Collection constructed using a thermo-molding technique, a kind of “vacuum compression method” that presumably fuses the components together without any noticeable seams or stitching.
I’d love to see how these things are made (yeah, I know, fat chance). Anyone out there got a video of the manufacturing process? Maybe something cool like this?
[via FastCo Design]
Published December 6, 2011
Aluminum , Assembly , Injection Molding
I’ve been waiting for this thing since April… Since backing them on Kickstarter to make the Cosmonaut, a wide-grip stylus for touchscreens (like my iPad), Studio Neat has teased its supporters with updates on the product’s progress as it made its way towards production. Like many start-ups, I think the boys were a bit too optimistic on their schedule (these widgets were originally due out in June). But my hat’s off to them for sharing their leaning process and evolution of how the product’s made. Check out their posts on Kickstarter to see the progression. Looks like we’re in the home stretch.
After a good deal of research and trial ‘n error, they ended up building this chunky guy with a machined aluminum core that’s overmolded with a conductive rubber. The tip is a separately-molded cap that is snapped onto the end (I wonder why it can’t be replaced when worn out or damaged?). The other end gets either an aluminum or wood plug (I guess because they can and because it covers up where the mold held the core during overmolding).
In a video “hosted” by Mr. Rogers entitled “How Crayons Are Made,” the guys share some nice video of the production process. It shows how the aluminum core is machined, then overmolded and assembled. You’ll see them hand die-cutting the cardboard packing and final assembly… Check it out before it gets taken down ’cause I seriously doubt Tom and Dan got permission to use that footage… Then again, having raised over $134K on Kickstarter and the success of the Glif, maybe they were able afford it.
It’s a wonder day in the neighborhood…
Published November 2, 2011
Assembly , General
In a manner once thought to be unheard of in mass-produced consumer electronics (until Apple’s MacBook Pro wowed us with it’s machined aluminum unibody), Nokia’s N9 housing is machined from a single piece of plastic (anyone out there happen to know what flavor they’re using?). The proud parents share a video of it’s latest offspring being born:
I dig the hand finishing after the housing is machined… nice. Despite the fact that you can’t get one these in the US, you have to appreciate Finnish craftsmanship.
Published December 21, 2010
Assembly , Dissections/Teardowns
Boy, I loves me some product autopsies… In this Icon-o-Cast episode, LUNAR’s crack team of engineers dismantle an iPad and turn a critical eye toward the engineering principles used in this revolutionary new device asking, “Did Apple’s product designers throw out the rule book or did they follow generally accepted engineering principles?”
There’s some great little nuggets about spot welds and CNC machining and a nice companion to that video is the iFixit teardown with higher-res images.
[Thanks for the tip, Julius Tarng on the Core77 M&P discussion board]