Artisanal Electronics

A thesis on digital fabrication and electronic products

Fab Speakers prototyping

Posted on | December 1, 2010 | No Comments

I’m the process of prototyping speakers made in a similar way to the Fab FM. I’m hoping that they end up being both cheaper and more useful. Above is an image of a laser-cut cardboard structure. Here’s a schematic that I’m going to test out for the amplification circuit, based on the TPA301 or TPA701 from TI.

More photos on Flickr.

3D-Printed Mouse

Posted on | November 30, 2010 | No Comments

The Shapeways blog has a post up on Dimitri Kobzar’s 3D printed computer mouse. His reflections:

I’ve been using this mouse for about two weeks, but in the end turned back to my A4Tech X-7. In addition to the issues mentioned above, I didn’t like the general feel of the mouse. The materials are definitely much cheaper, than the ones used in ordinary mice, this is why they feel worse. I also tried to cut down the costs making the surfaces as thin as possible. It made the mouse feel like being made out of paper. It’s definitely stiff, but it doesn’t feel ‘solid’.

It’s great to see these technologies applied to computer peripherals; it’s an area I’m exploring in my thesis. I may make a mouse of my own, but have a few more twists in mind.

Kickstarter on a new era for design

Posted on | November 20, 2010 | No Comments

Kickstarter has a blog post entitled a new era for design, discussing iPod Nano watch conversion kit projects TikTok+LunaTik:

It’s extraordinary how Scott Wilson’s experiment demonstrates the changing landscape of design. For as long as we can remember products just appeared. We knew nothing of the production process, or who the device’s authors might be. Not anymore. As Scott Wilson professes in his first project update, “I believe this is a significant milestone in product development history. And you are part of it. Part of what I consider will eventually be a common way for individuals, DIYers, small groups and aspiring entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. And you were there at the beginning.”

read the full post

Behind the (virtual) scenes of a WoodMarvels assembly video

Posted on | November 19, 2010 | 1 Comment

WoodMarvels is the largest showroom on Ponoko (and was one of the examples I cited in my thesis proposal presentation). The Ponoko blog has a great behind the (virtual) scenes look at the making of an assembly video for a WoodMarvels toy tractor:

Although I’m using Autodesk 3D Studio Max 2011 for this process, you can set-up a similar system with Blender which is free of charge. I’m currently rendering at 720p HD and although I have a top of the line 64-bit HP laptop running a i7 core (equivalent of 8 cores) on Windows 7, the rendering times I experience for this project alone was about 150 hours. This doesn’t include the design time, or any other work involved, just the rendering you see at the end of this blog post.

This is a great reminder of how much of the work of selling a DIY product is in the documentation.

Ponoko: 3d printing and rules for maker businesses

Posted on | November 18, 2010 | No Comments

Ponoko is now offering 3d printing in collaboration with CloudFab. This seems like a useful addition to their services, but less exciting than they built it up to be. It will be interesting to see how they compare with Shapeways. The one year free replacement policy is interesting; I guess they can always just print you another copy.

The ten rules for maker businesses that Chris Anderson wrote during the run-up to Ponoko’s announcement are great. Check them out:

#1 Make a profit.
#2 It takes lots of cash to stay in stock.
#3 Buy smart.
#4 Basic business rules still apply.
#5 You get no leeway for being a maker.
#6 Be as open as you can.
#7 Create a community to support and enhance your products.
#8 Design for manufacturability.
#9 Marketing is your job.
#10 Your second most important relationship is with your package carrier.

Economist on the glif and small-scale production.

Posted on | November 17, 2010 | No Comments

Nice article from the Economist about the Glif, an iPhone 4 tripod mount and stand:

With a completed prototype model, the designers turned for a manufacturing estimate to Protomold, a short-run injection-moulding production firm. Injection moulds commonly produce millions of like results; Protomold specializes in smaller runs, and can make dozens to thousands of castings at a reasonable per-unit price. The company examined the 3D model, helped refine a version that it could actually manufacture, and provided a production quote. For the Glif, the two designers needed to pay for an initial mould and enough units to cover the manufacturing costs. With $10,000, they could break even. (They will source and install the brass bore for the tripod screw at a later stage. The partners originally expected to spend a weekend with a heat gun to do it themselves, but they’ve already pledged far too many units.)

And a follow-up about their unexpected success:

This is where the use of crowdfunding spins the conventional story of success killing a small business on its head. If the designers had plugged prototypes to buyers, and suddenly received an order for 5,000 units from a wholesaler or retail chain, the two might have failed before beginning. To raise money for initial production, they would have followed the traditional scripts: fire up credit cards, obtain a bank loan (without a previous manufacturing track record), or borrow money from friends and family. Any glitches or delays could have led to cancelled orders. Even had the big order shipped, returns of unsold units could have led to financial ruin.

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Chronicling the master's thesis of David A. Mellis, a student in the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab.


3D Printed Mouse >>

Fab Speakers >>

Fab FM >>