Monday, 22 August 2011

Standing the test of time - the sustainable steam iron

Sustainability is not limited to eco-friendly materials and product recyclability. Can instilling a greater sense of value and purpose into new products lead to more satisfying user-product relationships? This project seeks to identify the key attributes for product longevity and apply them in the design of a sustainable steam iron. This is design for emotional durability.

The following is series of iron design proposals. It is important to stress that these are not in any way final designs. More so they are initial sketches - a visual primer for discussion. As primary users of consumer products, your feedback will greatly aid the creative process and result in the next stage of the design being infinitely more user-centred. So please do not hesitate to be open, honest and direct. I am not precious - all feedback, positive and negative, is welcome. It can only serve to make the finished product better, both for the user and for the environment.

Could one of the following steam iron designs stand the test of time?

Thinking about products you already own, what factors make yo keep some longer than others? 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Prototyping ‘Carbie’ - Personal Energy Monitor for Kids


The ‘Carbie’ badge design consists of an internal recycled plastic ‘skeleton’ with a silicon overmoulded body. The following series of images depicts my attempt at completing the overmoulding process.

First things first - I did some silicon tests. In this picture, the trusty CNC machine is machining out a one piece foam mould of the badge form.

Silicon is poured into the mould and left overnight to set.

Hey presto… the following day the silicon is pulled from the mould. Appears to have worked quite well.

     I went to FabLab in Ardwick, Manchester to get the badge’s internal plastic skeleton 3D Printed. It’s amazing to watch the machine print in plastic.

In all its glory.

Here’s the skeleton and the two parts of the mould. I decided to use Cibatool instead of blue foam for this two parter as it’s a much tougher and more robust material.

Snug fit

‘10 parts silicon to 1 part accelerant’… my silicon mixing station. It’s not the easiest stuff to work with and can make quite abit of mess (or maybe that’s just me).

Lots of bubbles are created when you mix the silicon with the accelerant and in this case some green dye. You therefore have to ‘de-gas’ the mixture in an air pressure chamber. The pic shows the bubbles pulling the mixture to the surface of the container. It’s basically like boiling a pan of water - you have to keep an eye on it and make sure you release the pressure as it reaches the brim, otherwise it’s game over man.

With the skeleton sitting safe and sound inside, the mould is clamped and the silicon is poured into the top. The pressure from the clamps helps to stop the material from ‘flashing’ - seeping through the join of the mould.

I drilled three outflow holes at the base of each of the badge’s toes. This is so I can make sure that the material has passed throughout the mould and has not got all clogged up near the top. When I was sure it had made it’s way through (i.e. it’s visibly draining out), I plugged the holes with some nylon rod.

Next day… the silicon has definitely set so it’s time to crack the thing open…

… which proves to be bloody hard work. I have to make use of a chisel as i’m no Geoff Capes.

Say hello to my little friend.

Needs some cleaning up but pretty pleased with this attempt.

From the rear. It did flash abit even with the clamps - note the thin layer of silicon around the toes.

It’s a bit rough and ready but it proves the process can work. Chuffed to mintballs… as they say.

Watt Watching & Carbon Counting - the next step in energy monitoring?

The adoption of smart meters and energy monitors is becoming increasingly commonplace. However, the majority of such devices tend to exclusively monitor communal electricity usage. By raising awareness, improving energy/carbon literacy and ultimately changing user behaviour on both an individual and collective level, this project seeks to evolve the concept of energy and carbon management.

But would you stick to a energy/carbon diet? Can you see yourself, your family or even your workplace adopting and adapting to such a concept? 

Please evaluate the following proposal. All comments are welcome - your thoughts will feed directly into the next stage of the design process...

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The important things…

A breakdown of my final semester design work…

I designhorse, therefore I am...

Greetings one and all. Hope you’re fine and dandy.
My name’s Mike Stead and designhorse is my portal for all things design. I’m a product designer by trade and I’m just about to complete my Masters programme. I’m really interested in sustainability and for the final semester of my course I’ve been concentrating on developing environmentally sensitive concepts for the home.
Design can often become an insular and precious process for designers but products are fundamentally for people and I’m really keen to involve others in what I’ve been doing. I will be posting a fair bit of my postgraduate work in the coming weeks and I’m hoping to get some feedback. I see it as the best way to improve and evolve a concept. So please don’t be shy, get in touch. All comments are welcome.