Archive for the 'General' Category

FastCoDesign: Radical Innovation Requires Radical Materials


From Candice-Leigh Baumgardner’s article for Fast Company Design:

Designers have to start getting serious about the power of materials to transform the creative process.

It’s short, sweet and to the point.

[via FastCoDesign]

Geeky Video of the Day: How A Tire Is Made

“A tire is round, and it is black…”

I wish every materials and manufacturing video was done like this… They have the live footage right beside an animated version for clarity.

Maybe you haven’t wondered how a tire is made, but just in case…

Cyclists’ Airbag Helmets Bursts Forth from Stylish Collar

This self-inflating air-helmet was designed by Swedes Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin as a university thesis project. Meaning “chieftain” in Swedish, Hövding is a collar which contains the pretty amazing air, helium to inflate it and sensors which tell the Hövding when to fire. The sensor unit consists of gyroscopes and accelerometers which constantly monitor movement and deploy to bag when you’re in danger. The electronics are charged via USB (of course, and the firmware can also be updated via the same port) and you switch it on by zipping the collar shut around your neck.

With a car airbag, the time to fire is obvious – when impact is detected. But as you see in the video, there are many ways a cyclist can fall that look similar to normal, safe activities in other contexts (like doing an endo over the handlebars and falling forward is a lot like bending down to lock your front wheel, for instance). To eliminate false positives, Haupt and Alstin carried out extensive testing with both dummies and – amazingly – stunt men and women.

As a cyclist myself, I never go biking without my helmet. So why wear this instead of a helmet? Style is the first thing that comes to mind. You can change the covers of the collar to match your outfit, and you won’t get helmet head. But at the end of the day, wrapping this thing around your neck vs a helmet is kinda six of one…

One other nice feature: it learns from your past mistakes. When you hook up the hood to a USB port, you can choose to upload your deployments using an on-board “black-box” which keeps the last ten-seconds of sensor info in a buffer and saves it to memory on impact. This information is then aggregated to improve the performance of the software.

[Hövding website - English translation via Google Translate]

[via Wired Gadget Lab]

DIY 3D Printing With A DLP Projector

So Junior Veloso just decides he wants to build his own 3D printer using visible light. His solution is to use a DLP projector to cure visible light-sensitive resin. Just like stereolithography, the rig builds the part on a platten coated with a thin (.01mm) layer of light-curable resin where the projector projects the shape to be built.

I would think that if you had a projector with a high enough resolution (right now he’s using a 1024×768 projector), this might be faster than the mirror-aimed laser used for SLAs since the entire layer would be cured simultaneously. So far, his early samples are pretty nice. Take a look at Junior’s progress on his blog.

[via Hack a Day]

Virtual Tour of Cassina Furniture Shop

Furniture manufacturer Cassina offers you a virtual tour of carpentry, synonymous with highly-skilled craftsmen, and of hide and leather making, where quality is conveyed through inspection of the material and in the sartorial elegance of the upholstery…

A quality that comes from far afield, carefully selected, paying particular attention to the application and transformation of raw materials, experimenting with new techniques while at the same time preserving the values and tradition of its history. A quality that is evident through the unrivalled combination of industrial technology and artisan working methods.

Make sure you click on the magnifying glasses to zoom into the different locations around the facility.

Thanks to Thomas Figgins for the suggestion.

[Take the tour]

Manufacturing in China Explained

Can the United States become more competitive as a maker of things?

In this video, MAKE editor/publisher Dale Dougherty catches up with Liam Casey at at Foo Camp 2010. Casey runs a supply-chain business in China and often serves as a sort of manufacturing liaison between Western companies and Chinese factories.

Casey’s view is that as manufacturing has become a commodity, fewer large companies own their own factories. Rather, they rent rather than own, and the cheapest places to rent are those in China and as China begins to create web interfaces to its manufacturing capacity, the rest of the world will find it even easier to make things in China.

As most of us smaller firms and 1-man designers have difficulty connecting with overseas manufacturers, it’s definitely worth watching this discussion.

[via O'Reilly Radar]

Core77 Material Matters Interview: iPhone 4

So, remember when the iPhone 4 was rolled out, with much fanfare and jubilation? That was before all the trouble started…

Core77 had a chance to briefly interview Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, about the materials and manufacturing process used to create this object of so many’s desire.

In the interview, in addition to talking about the use of scratch-resistant aluminosilicate glass for the front and back of the phone, Ive discussed the now-famous black breaks in their custom-developed stainless steel edging for the phone. Turns out the edge detail is actually one single piece of metal which is co-injection molded. Jonathan explains:

Those three black splits are co-molded in, and then the band goes through more processes. So it’s assembled first, the band, and then the final machining and grinding are performed, so the tolerances are extraordinary… Whatever people’s feelings are about the actual design of the product is of course subjective. But objectively I can say that the manufacturing tolerances are phenomenal. And we determined this, we designed it from the very beginning to meet those goals.

Despite these issues and to Apple’s credit, they espouse the kind of attitude towards materials and design that I have long held:

For a designer to continually learn about materials is not extracurricular, it’s absolutely essential.

This interview has more pics to enjoy.

[via Core77]

Harvard Smartypants: Programmable Matter

He was wearing my Harvard tie! Can you believe it? My Harvard tie! Like, oh sure, HE went to Harvard…

So the folks at the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory under Professor Robert Wood have developed “Programmable Matter”  which consists of a sheet material lined with actuators, which essentially means that this material can fold itself up in a predetermined way a la Transformers meet origami.

[via Boing Boing]

Aug 16-20 in Queens, NY: Material Intelligence Workshop

Material Intelligence has an “Intensive Design and Prototyping Workshop” scheduled for August 16-20th in Queens, NY.

Judging from the sponsors: Robert McNeel & Associates, makers of Rhino3D and CAM, plug-in developers for CAM, position and rendering of objects in Rhino, along with several architecture firms, this might be more aimed at architects as opposed to IDs… But you know,  materials and fabrication knows no boundaries. And hey, they have toys:

Participants will develop projects through iterative workflows with an emphasis placed on material prototyping as a vehicle for design innovation. The workshop will be conducted in a fast-paced and hands-on studio environment where participants will have access to digital fabrication equipment including an industrial CNC 3-axis Mill and CNC High-Force Cutter.

[more info and registration]

[via Core77]

Cimatron Offers Free Trial of Injection Molding Sim

If you play on the manufacturing side of the street, you’ll be interested to know that I sraeli CAD manufacturer Cimatron, which specializes in CAD for mold, tool and die makers, has developed a new tool which enables manufacturers to “simulate and analyze the injection molding process from within CimatronE,” CimatronE being their CAD program.

A free trial of the Moldex3D eXplorer can be obtained from CimatronE service providers worldwide; please log on to the Cimatron web site to find your local branch.



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