Week 3 Reflection


It’s great to work with the people from Design for America (DFA) workshop. The DFA involves designers, engineers, artists and business people, collaborating together to come up with the creative solution of social problems. The community formation is very similar to our class, which allowing people who have a variety range of background to work on designing and tailoring technical skills. In the workshop, we were asked to providing a series of solutions that could assist a group of blind people to overcome their current issues as well as meet individual requirements. Kyle, Claire, and Abhiniti and I decided to help a user, a legally blind mother living in Austin, Texas, to know the safety of her children when they are in the playground. In the beginning, we started to make several assumptions about our target, such as her education level, income level, family members, and ages of her children, etc. Next, we brainstormed our individual ideas/solutions for ten minutes without communications. Then, we shared unstructured and initial thoughts within the group and tried to classify the solutions into categories so that we were able to cover other aspects did not consider in the first place. Ultimately, we utilized different materials to transfer thoughts into products. The prototyping process was exciting, flexible and interesting to keep shaping our product until we all satisfied.

So What?

I believe DFA workshop changed my design thinking process. First of all, it is essential for designers or developers to understand specifications and needs before planning. Reasonable assumptions are also indispensable to better help the customers customize their own products since situations vary among different environment. The main purpose of designing products is meeting any demands from the market, but sometimes products are narrowed down their functions in general requirements for maybe 70% t 80% users. However, it is quite important but difficult to have a very comprehensive design to allow more complex and personalized functions adding on them. Therefore, if we want to reach out as many as customers, the initial step should be understanding our targets and experiencing the similar environment. Furthermore, looking back to the making process, I felt a little bit surprised to see several innovative designs from our team and other teams in a short period. There were not restraints for us to develop our ideas so that we were confident in changing our prototypes.

Now What?

A simple design and a small correction of existing design can make a huge impact on individuals and communities. The workshop experience definitely will help my team to apply any thoughts on practical designs. After we choosing the project topic, I will start with researching customer needs, not only the fundamental areas that they expect to achieve, but also the potential demands that might require in the future. I am looking forward to having creative solutions for the surroundings and our society.

Week 2 reflection

Reading the weekly article called In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits, I am very surprised to learn a mind-blowing example of the power of micro-factories names Local Motors. It is a very creative business idea to transfer innovative designs into reality. Each design is released under a share-friendly Creative Commons license. The business model is very similar to the websites, such as Thingsverse and Shapeways that we have talked/shared in class. Customers are encouraged to enhance the designs and produce their own components that they can sell to their peers. Seeing the operation and core value of Local Motors in a bigger picture, on the one hand, the cheap explosion and powerful prototyping tools allow more people who are the lack of engineer or design experience to participate into the interesting process. On the other hand, the prototyping approach is able to transfer the current manufacturing from developing countries into domestic with increasingly flexible, Web-centric, and open to custom work. It is great to have a chance to get updates of the current industry as well as combine the learning from my supply chain management class.

Professor Sachdev led us to share some thoughts on different digital making websites. The exploration process not only encouraged me to critique and discover multiple types of designs but also motivated everyone to participate in our own first 3D-printing design. Although I have designed 69 cell phone cases on Thingsverse because of my research project, I have been so excited to print an octopus stand for my IPhone (Check out the pictures). I always want to have a unique holder when I watch videos/movies on my phone. I was tired of seeing the same and tedious designs on EBay and Amazon, so I tried to customize a distinct design. It was a little frustrated in the first half an hour because my printer did not function very well. The object failed three times, even with the help and several machine adjustments from Professor Sachdev and technicians in the lab. I revised my model and canceled brim for platform adhesion in the fourth time. It ran smoothly in the first ten minutes, but then one of the parts was removed by accident. The octopus stand finally worked in the fifth trial. Learning from this activity, I think some downsides of 3D printing should be improved in the future. For example, if the project fails in the progress, people have to restart, which it will be time-consuming for designer and increase material waste.

IMG_1978  FullSizeRenderIMG_1966

Toothbrush holder http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1323678

A simple design is able to make our life easier and save space to keep small pieces organize. Furthermore, it is a good way to place wet toothbrush head without make bathroom table look dirty. The design can be customized depending on different types of the electronic toothbrush and the number of toothbrush heads that you want to keep.

Ethernet Cable Runners http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1320948

Ethernet Cable Runners provide a simple solution to keep your Ethernet cables neat, under control and easy to access, insert and remove. The range accommodates from 2 to 16 cables depending on your personal needs. Cables can be easily messed up at offices or home, but Ethernet Cable Runners allow bunches on cables to be run along under shelves. Customers are able to choose different version and angles of cable runners. It is a very flexible and cost efficient design.

Springy Apple Cable Savers http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1091637

My Apple cables are prone to breaking at the joint between the connector and cable through use, particularly I bring all my cable in my backpack all the time. Unlike alternative methods available to counteract this problem the Springy Apple Cable Saver does not just transfer the flex / break point away from the cable / connector joint to another point further up the cable. It is a good idea to make our lives better, but there will be some improvements implementing on the design because the holder is too loose. New measurements should be calculated.

Drinks Dispenser http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:832751

This is a very functional and useful design in the household. The “octopus” design helps people distribute drinks conveniently in eight cups. Very simple object but solve a big problem if you want to share drinks with guests. However, the current model applies for eight drinks. It should be customized according to personal preferences or have switched to control the flow.