Experiences of revising the prototyping culture for Design, Engineering and Architecture students at London South Bank University
Editor: Boks W; Ion, W; McMahon, C and Parkinson B
Author: Forkes, Andrew D
Section: INDUSTRIAL CONTEXTS
Additive and subtractive Rapid prototyping (RP) systems are becoming more the convention in industry and education; however, integrating RP systems fully into academic units needs careful
consideration. There are distinct benefits from using these varied technologies, but are we in danger of losing analogue prototyping techniques that can be more appropriate for early stages of the design process because the students are mesmerised by the technology? The genre of prototyping is becoming ambiguous, it deviated away from the dictionary definition years ago and rightly so, there is not one hard and fast rule for the development of a product per se. This needs to be reinforced in design education as not every design student arrives at the same career destination. The analogue prototyping culture at London South Bank University (LSBU) has a tradition that has stimuli from engineering practice, product modelmaking and even sculpture. This has been used to speculate form and give ideas “shells” at the fuzzy front end of a project. Part of the problem with integrating RP systems is the reorientation of units, especially practical workshop units and Computer Aided Design (CAD) units. Without RP systems, it has been difficult to “test” data files for full integrity i.e. water tightness and that students can test their creations “actually” rather than just “virtually”. The approach to this problem has been manifold; the first stage was looking at the practicalities of using the software, selecting materials pallets and designing process protocols to prototype on students. Another vital aspect has been investigating the cost of ownership for these systems, costing materials modules holds an interesting educational aspect for the students who, hopefully, will explicitly review the “worth” of the materials they are using. The paper will place an emphasis on how product design students engage with this process as part of the product development aspect of their project work, but there is also insight on the relationship between the varied disciplines of engineering and architecture also.