Michael Tougher

About Me

I am a designer and inventor. I have recently graduated from Product Design Engineering at The University if Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art with a First Class.

michaeltougher@hotmail.co.uk

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Electronics

We have 3D printers for allowing us to prototype designs quick and easy and we also have Shapeways that allows us to produce these designs in more of a mass scale and sell them to the world. For electronics we also have Arduinos and Raspberry Pi which allows us to create various electrical prototypes but to then produce it is some scale it becomes much more complex. Is this something that can change? I may be a little naive of the complexities of electronics but there seems to be huge difference between the ease of creating prototype circuits with an Arduino to then designing a printed circuit board.

There have been some advances such as the Kickstarter project The EX1 which can 3D print circuit boards. It is a stand a lone 3D printer costing around £2000 which will vastly improve electronic prototyping abilities. It lets you print circuit boards onto paper or any suitable surface. 3D printed circuit boards

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Shapeways

Shapeways really is a game changer for 3D printing. It makes 3D printing accessible and affordable for everyone around the world. It uses large industrial 3D printers to increase the economies of scale. It should be viewed as a completely different concept as the desktop 3D printing as it creates very high quality prints.  It has over 30 materials including gold and silver.

The real exciting part about Shapeways is the ability to create a shop and to sell your designs to the world. The customer buys your design Shapeways print it and deliver it to them. This idea of the new industrial revolution involves the democratization  of invention, now anyone with a computer and CAD package (many of which are free and easy to learn) can now create a design and sell it to the world. There is no investment, no stock and no distribution.

It can be used to test the water for a product made by traditional measures, to see if there is interest in your product first before making an investment and some have gone on to mass manufacture from it such as this The Rocket CupRocket cup

Although the designs are still constrained by some of the limitations of 3D Printing and the cost but it is an amazingly creative and easy avenue to sell your ideas to the world. I feel like this is only the beginning and Shapeways will continue to grow and expand its options empowering designer to create.

Desktop 3D Printing

Desktop 3D printers have been getting a lot of attention especially desktop 3D printers such as MakerBotFormlabs and the new Kickstarter project  The Micro.

The micro is will be the cheapet 3D printer and is aimed at consumers. Anyone can buy one at 300 dollars and create, download and print models. Formlabs is used more for prototyping using  Stereolithography technology for high precision and surface finish for a more professional model.form labs

 

 

Will consumers all have a 3d printer and download and create models to print in their home? Will consumers not buy a product but just buy a file and print it themselves. It could be a very exciting possibility but I feel it will not get mass adoption. If a consumer were to buy a simple plastic product it is normally mass produced, making use of economies of scale to make it as cheap as possible, this will not be the case with a 3D printer. It will have been engineered with specific processes and specific material to make it fit and durable for its purpose, these things are not possible with a desktop 3D printer. The product will be produced with a very high finish something which can not be achieved with a  cheap 3D printer. I can see a future wear it could be used for some repair parts, personalisation of products and possible cheap toys.

 

As prototyping machines these are amazing, to take an idea and to make it physical incredibly quickly makes designing and working in 3D much easier. If trying to design a product and take it to market prototyping used to be slow, expensive and hard work, now many iterations can be achieved very quickly, easily and relatively cheap. It is giving anyone the ability to design, create and make.

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