The Autodesk Sustainability Workshop is a free and vast online resource that aims to teach sustainability strategies, from micro to macro. The simple, easily-digestible series of strategy videos, tutorials and case studies can help students, educators, designers, engineers and architects not only learn about sustainability, but how to directly apply it.
Core77 asked 5 students to take it for a test spin, investigating the workshop and using Autodesk software to incorporate what they'd learned in a re-design of a commonplace object. In the final installment of our series, we look at Arizona-based John Turner (B.S.D. in Industrial Design, Spring 2012) and his "Hydra."
Core77: John, tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Gilbert, Arizona, and am currently finishing up my Industrial Design degree at Arizona State University. I am 22 years old.
What made you decide to study industrial design?
I've always been interested in making things and figuring out how they work. When I was in high school I was introduced to ID as a profession when the Phoenix Art Museum had an introductory hands-on Industrial Design workshop in conjunction with their streamlined car exhibit. I attended and from there it was no turning back.
Where did you decide to study, and why?
Initially I chose to study at Arizona State University for financial reasons and because the professor that taught the workshop at the Phoenix Art Museum teaches at the school. What also attracted me to the program was the school's strong focus on materials, processes, and professional practice. Now in my final year, I am part of ASU's Innovation Space, a multi-disciplinary program that teams me with an engineer, a visual communications designer, and a business major to work through a project sponsored by Dow Corning.
What areas of industrial design are you interested in focusing on?
I like getting into the details and thinking about how all the parts of a system come together. Most of my focus is on consumer products. This summer I interned at Design Packaging, Inc. and got to learn a lot about packaging, which is an avenue I would like to continue to explore.
Tell us about your project, the "Hydra."
At first I was focusing on finding an object around the house that could be designed more efficiently. I was looking at things like toasters, headphones, and irons. Then I was notified that I could rework a previous project that I had done, so I switched over to the outdoor tool set that I designed last year. While I liked the concept, the execution was off. So I saw this as a chance to get the project right.
What background do you have with Autodesk products, and how were you first introduced to them?
I heard here and there about Sketchbook Pro so I was curious and visited their website to see how much it cost. I saw that it was free for current students, so I downloaded it and tried it out. I have used SketchBook Pro and SketchBook Designer for some of my projects.
Please describe which Autodesk products you use or used for this project, and what you like or dislike about them.
For this project I used Inventor Publisher, which I hadn't heard of before, but it was very easy to pick up and use. Once I imported my CAD data it was minutes before I was putting together my slide show. I could see myself using the program in the future for sending off animated callouts to overseas manufacturers and for creating files for people to view that do not have CAD packages.
What things did you learn from the Sustainability Workshop that you didn't know before?
I had no idea that a tube could have similar structural strength as a solid rod. The video on lightweighting seemed to break it down into simple steps that I will be referring to in future projects. Also, I knew that a structure under tension was stronger than one under compression, but not to the extent that the illustrations showed in the workshop. The advice on designing for disassembly is another resource I will refer back to in the future.
Please describe your design process.
This was originally a class project for last year's International Housewares Competition, but I was never totally happy with the results. The product was designed to use a single space-saving tool handle which could attach to interchangeable tool heads such as brooms, rakes, and spades. The original locking mechanism was too weak, there were too many parts, and it would be difficult to manufacture. My first goal was to redesign the docking mechanism into a simpler and stronger form. I did a couple pages of thumbnails looking at the forces, motion, and interaction involved, and I created the most promising ones in CAD. After some back and forth I settled on the latch design. I also looked for places to lightweight and cut back on materials. The rack that the set hangs on was originally an extruded plastic rail. This time around I tried using bent steel rod to achieve the same functionality and I am happy with the results. It cuts back on materials and is much easier to recycle.
Which of the "Improving Product Lifetime" elements from the Sustainability Workshop did you use?
I used Tensegrity for the latch locking mechanism, Lines of Force and Stress Design for Durability to ensure the tool head would be secure, Design for Disassembly and Recycling to improve the wall rack, and the basic concept allows for design for repair and upgrade due to its modular nature.
Please describe any significant technical details of your project that the Sustainability Workshop helped you to resolve.
I was trying to figure out how to lock the tool head onto the handle and the video on Lines of Force and Stress helped me as I added a support tube to protect against torsion and shearing forces the tool would experience during use. The video on Tensegrity structures was also informative and helpful as the latch is stronger under tension rather than compression.
What's next for this project? Is it complete, and was it undertaken for a client or for learning purposes?
I have some finishing touches I still need to do, and then it's straight into my portfolio for the job hunt after graduation in May.