My final year has started with one of my major projects for the subject part of the course. I have been approached by a local farm looking to increase their profits. Customer had an idea of using dried vegetables to produce instant soups. The idea was to use vegetables grown at the farm.
I have started by learning about the customer and the way in which the business operates. I have evaluated customers website which was one of the main sources of sales along side of a weekly market stall. I have quickly noticed that the website doesn’t sell the produce very well, the product is poorly advertised on the website and there is no real choice of produce for the customer. I thought that improving those aspects of the business will also be important and have a positive impact on the profits. I have also created a list of questions for the customer which gave me more insights of the business and the farms constraints.
I have began my ideation process by thinking about the problem first and how it can be resolved. I thought that instant soups can not be the only way in which a farm can improve profits. I have started to explore other ideas which will help raise profits. Some solutions have included vertical farming, increasing the amount of produce will increase sales which increases profits, however this is only true if the demand for the product is existent. I also thought that improving the market stall would reflect on profits. My idea was to have a more appealing and eye catching stand with controlled environment for display and transportation to ensure freshness of the produce which would be a unique selling point. Some other ideas have included opening up a local veg shop or entering a different market, for example, crisps.
Once I have generated My ideas I decided to review them with the customer, during our meeting the customer has complimented the ideas, however, he was set on the idea of dried soups. He also gave me more information and showed me a business plan which he has generated for the dried soup product. After looking at the calculation and being convinced by the customer he has a strong USP (80% veg content in comparison to super market soups with much lower veg content at 20%-30%). I have decided to go back to research stage and look into dehydration and explore the process.
My client has outlined that the farm is off grid however some power can be purchased at the start of the business to get the business going. Another constraint was the fact that there is only one person working at the farm and the dehydrator would have to be relatively large in order to dry a sufficient amount of veg in order to make enough soup making it hard to move, load etc. Client would also like the dehydrator to be cheap to produce or even possibly made out of reclaimed materials in order to keep costs low. My client also wanted to share the plan and business idea with other small, local farms around the UK in order to help them boost their profits also. I believe the dehydrator files should also be available to download.
I have therefore gone back to the research stage to learn about the process of dehydration and different types in which it can be carried out as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each type of process in order to find the best solution for dehydration. This helped me understand the design process and made me realise that being able to converge and diverge in between ideation and research leads to a better design and practising this will make me a better designer.
during my research I have also expanded my sustainable energy knowledge and learnt about a process of anaerobic bio-digestion which is a perfect way for farm to reduce their waste and save money on energy. This process uses food waste to create energy. Explaining it simply, The wasted food is digested by microorganisms in absence of oxygen causing fermentation which creates bio-gasses and water. Bio-gasses can then be combusted to create energy.
My final design uses minimal fixtures, controls and mainly press fit components making the design simple to use and maintain on a low budged. The dehydrator size can be easily increased and decreased by stacking more trays on top of each other. Cleaning is made easy as the tray and mesh simply push out. The product can be easily moved around the farm and transported easily in a small van as the entire product comes apart easily.
This project taught me first insights of working with a real client. I have enjoyed the experience and enjoyed the fact that I have received feedback on designs and ideas from the actual user of the product, someone with knowledge of the subject.
If I was to do the project again I would have definitely liked to do more experimenting as well as having more meetings with the client in order to improve the product more.
I have begun my second year of Product Design as BSc student which I was quite nervous about because electronics were a significant part of the module hence I didn’t feel very comfortable at the start. However, I wanted a challenge and knew I enjoy hands on work, making working prototypes and discovering new materials and different ways of combining them to achieve incredible things.
When I have attended the first BSc lecture I didn’t even know what an Arduino was, let alone the coding language and all the electronic components that come with it. The first few lectures were a struggle, we got to know what the Arduino was and discovered possibilities of the small computer. We covered theories which stand behind the Arduino and how the computer works in order to then be able to use it in our own projects when we create our working prototypes.
I found the understanding of the language used for coding very hard at the start of the program, it was a stressful time but the practical workshops which we had were extremely useful and aided my understanding of coding. Starting off with simple codes and very few commands, then building up from there and adding new components to the circuit and expanding the code were a great way of learning the basics of the Arduino. It was a very enjoyable way of learning and it has definitely made me want to explore that field of technology more. For my field module I have studied the fab field module where I have experimented with the Arduino more.
Studying Electronics where I have gained knowledge about PCB boards thanks to studying software called Fritzing I now understand the possibilities of for example fitting in a lot more components on to a small PCB instead of using the Arduino for a working prototype perhaps because the Arduino, although is a very small computer it can still sometimes be too big for certain products, such as a remote for example.
After completing our group assessment during the festive period I felt relieved but happy that I have gained new knowledge and skills. The assignment was challenging but working in a group has definitely helped achieve the end result but it has also allowed me to learn from other students and vice versa.
When we have returned back to university it was time to begin the mechanics module which I felt more comfortable with. I thought that it might perhaps be less challenging in comparison to the electronics module, however, I have underestimated it. This module was also very interesting and involved plenty of practical workshops where we would discover and learn new theories through simple exercises in the studio such as making card bridges and testing different constructions using the same amount of the same material in order to find the best solution.
This module made me go back over and refresh my maths knowledge which is necessary as we have learnt new equations as well as going over some basic ones to refresh our memories. The lectures were well structured which helped with the understanding. We would cover a new theory, look at examples, and then put the theory into practice and see if the hypothesis is correct. This has worked well for me and I feel like I have gained a lot from those lectures which will hopefully help me in my future career.
If I compare myself to myself from last year studying Product Design in general not BSc focused. I feel like my designs are much stronger in a sense that now I focus not only on the aesthetics of the product, But I push myself to think what production processes would be used to manufacture this part or a product, what material shall I use for the best properties which I require, how will the product work? Before I would think of possible ways in which the product could work whereas now I actually strive make my design become reality and I think about mechanisms and electronics that could potentially be used in order to develop my design.
One of my favourite assignments was when we had to build a half a metre long bridge using only pasta and glue, we were not allowed to use any other materials or fixings. This was a challenge because pasta is very brittle and the bridge had to be able to hold a three kilogram brick. The construction had to be light but be built such way so that the weight could be as light as possible. I have succeeded and my structure did withstand the brick.
For my final assignment I had to design and manufacture a working prototype of an automatic dog food dispenser as a pair. This has definitely been the most difficult assignment because we did not only have to focus on the mechanics of the dispenser but also the electronics and aesthetics. After carrying out research and coming up with a few designs we have focused on a design that we would like to develop and we have worked out the mechanism which we were going to use pretty quickly, however, connecting the electronics and all the parts together was a whole different task, We begun by getting the individual parts working separately such as the servo motor, potentiometer etc. and we have then moved on to arranging the code. After a couple of days of struggle we made the code and the servo motor and the timer worked.
When we have assembled our dog food dispenser it worked perfectly for about 2 turn and then stopped because the ‘wheel scoop’ for the food was not attached well enough to the servo motor. This mistake made me realise how well everything should be planned and well thought about before beginning the production stage. I would like to now experiment more with 3D CAD models and be able to simulate the stresses on the product in order to make sure that the product won’t be faulty and that the fixing will not break.
When we began the project I was very excited about the fact that I will have the opportunity to work on a Fab Lab styled project yet again. Last year I have designed a lamp in a pair for our final first year project. Because the lamp turned out to be a success to an extent as there has been room for improvement. For my Fab Field project I have decided to develop the old project further and try to improve upon it. In order to improve the old design I had to analyse where we went wrong with the project previously, I had to eliminate the issues which I have detected I also had to learn some new skills in order to make this lamp better than the previous one.
The weekly lectures and workshops have been a great opportunity to learn the skills necessary in order to improve my design as well as help me understand the Fab Lab culture and the ideology behind it.
Firstly I would like to talk about the positives, things I have learnt and things that went well.
I have learnt about press fittings using a laser cutter and applied that knowledge when it came to producing my lamp, I have produced press fitted parts which have been an addition in comparison to the old mould. Those parts have turned out to be one of the most significant improvements of my new lamp and they will boost the aesthetics hugely. All of this happened because of the skills which I have gained from this project.
Further, I gained extra knowledge in electronics and the use of Fritzing software. We have been taught how to produce PCB boards using a milling machine. I’m very glad that this project allowed me to learn those skills because they will become very useful in my Product Design BSc part of the course where this knowledge will be vital.
This project also pushed me in to further experiments with different CAD software packages as well as further practice my rendering skills. I have learnt how to place 3D models into real life perspective using rendering software. This can be seen in ‘The Fifth Post’ where the lamp render is placed on a desk in the environment in which it would normally be displayed and utilised in.
I have gained more knowledge about sharing the files and the idea of helping each other to achieve our goals. I can now see better that it is far more beneficial to work in a group of people from mixed backgrounds with a different set of skills because everyone can input the best of their skills to achieve things we could not achieve alone.
I also experienced the negative parts of the project and things which have not gone well and to plan.
For example, one of my goals for this project was to work on my time management skills which I have failed to do because I have wasted time creating a mould for a lamp which was too big and simply ugly and not very practical. However, this will teach me to manage my time better next time and I will now know to be 100 percent sure about the design before jumping ahead and start producing it. Further I have learnt new skills because I made the bigger mould using thicker and more rigid plywood. All parts have been but out on a table saw including 45 degree cuts at the edges of the parts. I learnt how to use 45 degree mitre joints and laser cut acrylic lining for the mould where the sides have then been sanded to 45 degree edges using belt sander. I learnt how to combine classic methods with modern ones.
Another thing which didn’t go well were hole sizes for the PCB the first time round. However, one of the group members has managed to work it out and provided us with the instructions on how to do it. I think that this shows exactly how good sharing is.
One more negative thing that I can think of for this project was the fact that we have moved between topics very quickly and didn’t get to cover them in very much depth. However, on the bright side this encouraged me to explore the areas which have interested me independently.
(To be continued when the production of the lamp is completed)
In order to make the concrete lamp this is the list of materials which I have required.
Cement (I used Snowcrete- Any cement will be good but I preferred the white cement)
5mm Laser suitable plywood.x2 sheets
3mm clear acrylic half a laser sheet. (300 x 200)
5mm clear acrylic laser sheet. (600 x 400)
mitre mate wood glue (Again other types of glue could be used with the use of 90 degree clamps such as two part epoxy glue)
small screws and wood planks in order to strengthen the mould to prevent it from coming apart under the pressure of the cement.
Pre-made lamp cord for health and safety.
I have begun by making the mould. I produced the drawings bellow for the outer and the inner parts of the mould in order to laser cut the pieces for best possible accuracy, I have then butt jointed the mould together using the adhesive. when sticking the parts together using this instant glue you have to move quick because the glue sets in around 5 seconds so placing the parts must be as accurate as possible. I would recommend gluing them together against a 90 degree corner.
(LASER CUT FILES-Outer, Inner, acrylic to be continued…)
Glue the bottom acrylic piece (104 x 154) in order to give the shape for the acrylic piece which will come on top of the lamp. You must ensure that the acrylic piece to which the base is glued on to is 23mm away from the edge of the bottom. The sides on the inner mould have to be then placed in the centre, 25mm away from the edge of the bottom and glued on top of the acrylic piece, the acrylic shall be visible 2mm all the way around the inner walls.
When the inner and outer mould are glued check that all sides are flat! If not, sand all the sides on a belt sander until flat.
Cut planks of wood which will fit inside your inner mould and screw them in from the outside, this will help the mould to be held together.
Once the inner mould is strengthened glue the outside walls on to the rest of the mould using your adhesive. once all 4 sides are glued together cut wood planks to fit around your mould and screw them around your mould at the bottom and near the top. Notice that only 2, opposite sides have to be cut perfect as the other ones overlap.
when the outer and inner parts of the mould are assembled together fix the press fitted parts at the top on one side of the mould, this does not matter which side. I used the same adhesive to fix the parts to the mould. no glue is necessary for the press fitted parts. some sanding may be required to the 3 squares on each of the beams before pushing the parts together.
When mixing your cement try to use a mesh to avoid big lumps of cement from falling into your mix. This will produce a nice, even consistency and hopefully less air bubbles as well as make things easier if you are going to be mixing the cement by hand. The cement must be slightly more runny than custard in regards to the consistency. when pouring in the cement its important to shake and tap the mould to even out the cement and reduce the air bubbles. if you have an access to a vibrating table to shake out all the air from the mould contents that will ensure a better quality of the finished product.
in regards to the acrylic for the top panel and the base you can either use fine wet and dry sand paper to give the Perspex a frosted effect or you can buy already frosted Perspex which is slightly more expensive but looks better.
The next step is to cut out the acrylic parts for the base and fabricate 45 degree edges and glue them together using solvent cement.
(Files to be continued…)
(Pictures to be continued…)
The final step is to drill out the hole for the cable using a diamond drill bit (10mm ideal) as any other ones will cause the cement body to crack. Then you need to feed the cable through the main body but firstly you must remove the components from the cable to fit the cable through the hole. then assemble the cord back together and fasten the bulb holder to the body using the fixing provided.
delays on some of the steps have been mainly caused due to the cement setting time.
In Week 6 we have covered the applications and uses of laser cutters. As a Product Designer I have used laser cutter on many occasions in many different projects for different purposes according to the design needs.
Due to the fact that I am developing my old project I decided to focus on the things that went wrong which I would like to improve based on the prototype made last year. One of the main issues was attaching the main concrete body to the Perspex base.
This year I have decided to create slots in the bottom of the concrete base and in order to achieve that I have laser cut those parts as shown in the photograph bellow.
The 2 parts press fit together and then rest on top of the mould where the concrete will take that shape.
I have made a minor mistake and didn’t include the thickness of the mould to the beam which would create the slot. However this was easy to overcome because crafts knife easily cut through the 5mm which were necessary. I have then glued the parts on top of the mould using mitre mate instant glue.
Here are some pictures of the press fitted parts in use on the mould as well as the concrete setting in the mould.
During week 5 we have begun to look at the use of CAD software and different packages offered to us such as rhino, PTC Creo, AutoCAD etc. we had to explore the software’s and find one which suits us best, the one we feel the most comfortable with.
Because I’m a product design student I use SolidWorks regularly therefore I have decided to use this software to create my final model and render it using KeyShot which is a great rendering software.
I began my 3D model by creating the main body followed by the top glass piece and then the stand.
I have then assembled those separate parts together to achieve my full model.
Here are the main developments which I have achieved.
Previously there was no cable hole and because the concrete was tough there was a chipped out bit at the back of the old lamp for the cable to be fed through. This time I will be using a diamond drill bit to drill out a hole in the centre of the lamp, quarter way up from the bottom at the back in order for the cable to be securely placed in the lamp. This will boost the aesthetics dramatically as the main body will still remain a sleek look. And boos the practicality and safety as the lamp wont have a chance to stand on the wire and cut it for example.
The second most important development also happened in not a very noticeable place when you have a first look at the lamp. I have decided to add slots in to which the base/stand will slide into so the hypothesis is that there will be no need to use of glue in order to connect the base to the body.
Here bellow is the old lamp, where you can see how unprofessional and rough the lamp looks when the base and the body are glued on, hence this development which I think will help the design significantly in order to boost the overall appearance.
Here are some of my renders, I tried to play around and explore using back drops and making more realistic renders.