posts tagged with the keyword ‘design’

2015.04.10

Sketch

We had a quick side project in our “Machines that Make” class which involved designing a piece of jewelry in Rhino. The piece was to be 3 dimensional, and entered into the “Rapid Jewelry 3D Printing Design Competition” put on by the Design Museum Foundation.

I’ve never really designed or made any jewelry before, but Frankie suggested I look at cosplay and wearable things for inspiration. Since I seem to have an (unhealthy?) obsession with hammers lately, I went right in that direction.

Prototypes

The hammer, like so many tools we use, is an extension of the human body, allowing us to do thing we couldn’t do with our bare hands. I wanted to celebrate the hammer as a tool and an object, and what better way than by wearing it on your finger?

Of course this hammer becomes somewhat non-functional, at least as a hammer. You can still move your fingers around to simulate the movement, but don’t expect to pound any nails with it. (There’s also a joke here about fingernails, but I’m still working on it.)

Paper Prototypes

Paper Prototypes

I did a quick sketch and then went to work doing some paper prototypes. The prototype fits well as a “mid ring” (a new term I learned) or as a pinky ring. The actual 3D modeled one should fit on my index finger.

Paper Prototypes

Imagine if you will, a whole bunch of these on one hand. Too many hammers to handle? I think not!

STL File

I learned a few new techniques in Rhino, which should come in handy. I really wish I had more time to dig into it this semester, especially the command line features. Here’s what the plain old STL file looks like. We’ve seen this view a million times before, but I also did some renderings using Keyshot which look rather nice… Check them out below!

Rendering

Rendering

Rendering

Rendering

Rendering

Obviously the 3D printed pieces won’t exactly look like this, but it was great to experiment with different materials and lighting in the rendering software. (Of course now I’m tempted to look at the open source 3D rendering applications out there!)

2015.03.27

Sketch

Graduate reviews are done, and I got feedback from faculty on my current work. I was a great opportunity to gain insight into how others view the work I do. Typically these sort of things help reveal ideas that you don’t think about while making the work, or bring up new questions in regards to why you make specific choices.

One of the interesting takeaways from today was when a few of my pieces were called “sketches”. If you think about a sketch, it’s defined as “a rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture.” Many of the pieces I created are experiments, or explorations of ideas. They’re often not highly crafted pieces. I appreciate craft and people who are skilled at creating beautiful objects, but I often think I don’t have it in me to do that sort of thing.

I thought more about sketches, and the fact that in the Processing and Arduino worlds, the programs are called “sketches”. As I understand it, this was done specifically to appeal to artists and creative people who didn’t have a background in computers. Tell an artist they are going to write a computer program, and that’s a frightening proposition, but tell the same artist they are going to create a sketch and that’s an achievable goal.

I sketch with physical things…

That’s today’s revelation. Many of the things I make are real-world sketches. The physical manifestation of an idea. Often there’s an immediacy to the creating of the thing, but not always. I tend to work in two ways. The first is a reactionary mode, where I have an idea and act on it immediately. I start building without too much thought, and see what the process and the piece reveal. The second method involves thinking, designing, and prototyping as an iterative process. The pieces created from the second method are often more polished, but both methods produce valid work, and the reaction to each kind of work may be equal (meaning, people don’t always gravitate to the work that had more initial thought or took more time.)

Oh, I also want to drop the other definition of sketch here, “a short humorous play or performance, consisting typically of one scene in a comedy program.” This also relates to some of my work, but I’m going to leave that exploration to a future post.

2015.02.23

DCRL Coat Hook

I’ve printed a coat hook before, but this time I’m doing it for school. This is the DCRL Coat Hook for the class “Digital Craft: Machines that Make” in the Digital Fabrication + Design area at UWM, taught by Frankie Flood.

The assignment was to create a 3D model of a coat hook using Rhino, and then print it. I’ve been using OpenSCAD for years, and before that I used Sketchup, so Rhino is still fairly new to me. I used it a bit last semester, but mostly just to explore it and for 2D laser cutting.

Rhino v1

My first attempt was mainly about getting comfortable in Rhino. I’m so used to the way I work in OpenSCAD, and even the way I work in Inkscape, that I found Rhino a little lacking in certain things. I’ve gotten more used to it since I started, but I still see room for improvements to how it works. Version 1 was all about unions and differences and fillets. It worked, but I wasn’t entirely happy with how rectilinear the form was.

Rhino v2

Version 2 was a bit more curvy, and while I was starting to like it more, the non-symmetrical parts bothered me. I did print out version 1 and 2 for our first class discussion, and I noticed that many students went out there with their designs, while mine tend to be very functional and utilitarian. I also have a good grasp of what is possible (and not possible) using hobby-level FDM/FFF. I don’t know if this helped or hindered my design, as I tend to think about the process I’m using at the time. (Sometimes, but I’ll get into that later.)

Vector outline

Eventually I ended up drawing version 3 in Inkscape, as I knew what I wanted it to look like, and it was an easy path to get exactly what I wanted, design-wise. I exported the file as a PDF, which imports nicely into Rhino, to get my 3D object. I also tend to look at replicating and/or extending existing workflows I already have.

Sketches

I typically find the desired size of objects by drawing them on paper. Here’s some of my early sketches (on the left) and the later ones (on the right) that I did before modeling in software.

DCRL Coat Hook v3

Once I had my vector PDF imported into Rhino I was able to extrude it to the desired height. Rhino lets you type in the height numerically while creating the object, but not after you’ve created it. It’s a bit frustrating, but I’ll get used to it. I then added the screw hole and a counter-sink hole. (I later realized I didn’t properly angle the counter-sink hole, which would have been easy to do. Perhaps for the next revision!)

I also thought about how this design could be used in other digital fabrication techniques. For instance, since the form is essentially an extruded 2D form, it would be easy to create a version using a CNC router or mill. After the profile is cut you could rotate it 90 degrees to get the screw hole, or just use a drill press. You could also cut a piece of pink foam, using a CNC machine, or by hand using a hot wire cutter, or any cutting tools, and cast it in metal (again a simple drilling operation would be needed to add the screw hole.)

If you’d like your own copy of this coat hook, you can grab it from Thingiverse or download from Youmagine.

Here’s a few photos of the final printed piece. There’s a few more photos in the DCRL album on Flickr as well.

DCRL Coat Hook

DCRL Coat Hook

DCRL Coat Hook

DCRL Coat Hook

DCRL Coat Hook

2014.12.31

inches mm
1/16 0.0625 1.5875
1/10 0.1 2.54
1/8 0.125 3.175
3/16 0.1875 4.7625
1/4 0.25 6.35
5/16 0.3125 7.9375
3/8 0.375 9.525
7/16 0.4375 11.1125
1/2 0.5 12.7
9/16 0.5625 14.2875
5/8 0.625 15.875
11/16 0.6875 17.4625
3/4 0.75 19.05
13/16 0.8125 20.6375
7/8 0.875 22.225
15/16 0.9375 23.8125
~ 1.0 24.5

Handy chart for conversion between stupid Imperial units (fractions and decimals) and smart Metric units.

See Also: Mixing Imperial and Metric and Screw/Bolt Diameters

Get to this quickly using p2url.com/inmm

2014.12.19

iterate

The Golden Rule from Phillip Burgess at Adafruit Industries: Iterate, iterate, iterate.

Don’t be discouraged when your case doesn’t work on the first try. Or the second. Once I thought I’d nailed a design on the third try, but was wrong. The most extreme has been our Pi Box enclosure for the Raspberry Pi…this took 23 attempts to get just right! The first few didn’t even hold together. Other projects were initially so discouraging, one was known behind the scenes as the “Piece-o-Crap-o-Tron 9000” …but many attempts later it’s become one of my favorite kits.

Fail quick, fail hard, fail often. Failure is part of the process — perhaps even key to the process. It’s how we learn and improve, and ultimately make a better product. Make mistakes now so your customers don’t have to.

I’ve known for a long time that design is an iterative process, and sometimes I think that’s what I love about it. I tend to be a fan of the process.

I remember once I asked Michael Curry how many attempts it took him to design something and 3D print it before it worked. I thought he said “two or three times”, but maybe he really said “twenty three times”. ;)

But seriously, there’s a lot of great tips not just for laser cutting things, but for designing things in general.

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