So begins the research into the maker movement and prototyping begins! As a group we have been sharing info and discussing a lot of the things we have come across, a lot of what the maker community is all about! Discussions have linked us in directions and have through research have slowly started to build a foundation.
Prototyping plays an extremely important role in the development of anything really. It is imperative to test and refine before throwing a product into the world. There is not just one way to prototype though, there are many ways, and we just have to pick what is right for the job. Factors such as cost, time, and material are all variables coinciding with what is being tested and the purpose of that test. Functional prototypes are required to test key functions of a product, but may look nothing like the finished product. Appearance models show the vision and the feel of what the product is meant to be.
There are many prototyping methods, such as 'classic' models made by hand using materials such as paper, clay and foam. Recently there has been a huge push into the rapid prototyping scene, allowing CAD models to be tranformed into physical parts using automated machinary. Each prototyping method has its strengths but it is important to remember that BOTH should be utilized, not to purely rely on a computer. Below is a chart listing popular RP processes.
It is important to get your head wrapped around all the prototyping processes and theory, but it is always fun to see what people have come up with in applications. While searching around I came across some very neat ways in which rapid prototyping has been used that stray from the predictable. In one instance an entire dress had been 3d-printed in Nylon to perfectly conform to the body. Really cool to see the technology being used in fashion! [LINK]
With the exponential growth in technology it’s interesting to see how the digital and physical world continues to meld together. The video below illustrates the use of rapid prototyping to create a play on our physical reality. It really opened my eyes on how linked the two worlds are and the future direction it will head. I feel there is much to be looked at when it comes to prototypings place in this equation.
My wonderful group member Nate brought this book Cradle to Cradle to my attention in regards to design and sustainability issues. It brings some interesting perspectives pertaining to product materials being nutrients for nature’s biological metabolism. This outlook goes on to say that there are two types of nutrients; Technical and Biological. Technical nutrients are synthetic materials that can be reused many times through downcycling. Biological nutrients can be decomposed in the environment. The picture below shows how materials or ‘nutrients’ go through their life cycle.
After working on research for a week our group decided to take a field trip to the Artengine mod lab. It’s a space where the maker community can meet, talk and assist each other on various DIY projects. The space is armed with a couple makerbot printers, laser cutter, soldering irons as well as a range of other equipment and parts. The neat thing that I noticed was because of the range of educational backgrounds, it provided stepping stones for people’s projects. A programmer wanted to get acrylic laser cut, but had no knowledge of getting it running. Others with the hardware knowledge were able to assist and successfully keep the ball rolling for him. This type of environment and physical collaboration really seems to turn ideas into reality.