NESTA Bright Ideas

S McGonigal, S Carta, J Lindley, J Beaufoy

Product & Industrial Design, Interior Architecture Lecturers, University of Hertfordshire

NESTA Bright Ideas Research funding bid

Projecting Products as a Physical and Digital Combination

3D printing in the home is an emerging market driven by lower cost 3D printers. Initially two aspects of this new potential market have emerged, a hobby market and home manufacture. Much has been written about the possibilities and consequences of these (cf. (Berman, 2012; Bradshaw, et al., 2010; Mota, 2011). However this may also become an innovative opportunity for manufacturing companies to change the way in which they supply products to the end user: from fully finished products to a combination of physical modular sub-assemblies and digital component choices.

Our claim, therefore, assumes that increasing amounts of manufacturing will take place within the home and will allow end user customisation. This allows manufacturers to be more innovative and targeted with design options for products, both in terms of product size and design options, changing the design process from mass market appeal to addressing individual needs and preferences. This raises questions around how the regulatory aspects of products are maintained, in terms of material selection and safety.

Our aim is to explore this practically hence we propose to do a focused case study to support our claim. We plan to do this by re-designing a simple mass produced product: a computer mouse. Using this as a feasibility study, the project sets out to explore the impact on the design process and the supply of the end product. We see the end product being a combination of factory manufactured functional assemblies and home 3D printed customisable casings.