As design students an understanding of the entire design process from start to finish is essential in order for us to learn the effects and importance of design within our day-to-day living. In our brief we were asked to fabricate a working toy propeller on the in house milling machine in the Fab Lab in Soshanguve, North Pretoria. Throughout this project we had to learn about the basic fabrication processes, and in turn come up with a Design Rationale for our toy propeller. In doing this we were expected to try and experiment with all types of materials and molding and casting processes as well as to learn how a milling machine works. Below is an example of the type of toy propeller we were gong to work from.
Description of community
We visited the Fab Lab in Soshanguve 3 times to see how it worked, what was being offered to the community and we could be beneficial to them in a positive way. Soshanguve is a township, North of Pretoria filled with young and enthusiastic people who are eager to learn new things, but unfortunately come from less fortunate backgrounds and therefore cant afford things like an education etc. The Bright Youth Council are a group of unemployed youth who run the Fab Lab there, and this lab basically acts like an educational institution of sorts where kids of all ages can come and learn, create and share their knowledge with each other. After working with a few of the guys at the Fab Lab we came to realize that this community is one that works together to learn together, almost like one big family. Although they come from poor underprivileged backgrounds, they still seem positive about what there is to learn out there and will use this to their advantage when they are given means such as a Fab Lab to use.
The biggest problem within the Fab Lab was the fact the community doesn’t make enough use of the machinery and software that is available to them. Our mission in turn was to create a simplified tutorial for them so that they can understand how the machinery (in our case the milling machine) works. After a few visits to the lab we realized that the scanning process of the propeller took longer than what we had anticipated, so we had to come up with a back up plan in the meantime while waiting for the scan to be done. Although this process doesn’t include the usage of any of the machinery within the lab the tutorial still gives the community an education on how molding and casting is done. We didn’t have enough time to then work with the scanned image of the propeller to then take it into wax and rubber molding, but were able to come up with a tutorial of how this process could then be done. The images below is the process that would be followed once the scanned image of the propeller has be done (taking it to the milling machine.)
We addressed the design solution in a “next best plan” kind of situation. We’de rather the community within the Fab Lab learn some kind of process than nothing at all (just because we couldn’t get a scan in time.) We ourselves wanted to also learn about the different molding and casting processes and in turn came up with an easy, step by step tutorial for the Silicone molding technique aswell as the Milling Machine technique. The propeller is there to teach the Soshanguve community the different materials that are out there and that can be used to their advantage. In creating this propeller they get to learn about the molding, casting and milling processes all in one, which we think is quite beneficial, as they can now get to choose which proecess they would want to work with to make their propeller – the silicone molding or milling machine options. After expermenting with different materials and processes we came up with a succesful design for the propeller, using the silicone and smooth cast molding, resulting in a propeller that actually flies…and that doesn’t break when hitting the ground.