3. Design Considerations

Hi! At the beginning of a design development process it is very important to think for whom I am designing a specific product. In this case the answer is simple as it is clearly stated in my project brief but quite often the answer to this question is much more complex.

My task is to design a product that will be used by school children to use in their class projects. Term “school children” is quite vague because the year range is from 4 years old to 16 years old, however I suspect that we are expected to concentrate on the younger side of the age spectrum.

Kids and seniors may be considered vulnerable in product design world, therefore there are always extra considerations to reflect when designing a product for those two groups, mainly but not limited to the safety, materials and ergonomics.

It all depends on the individuals but overall we can assume that children don’t really pay attention to ergonomics, functionality, reliability or the life-cycle of a product. Kids are creative and so should be the products that they use, kids are also visual learners and are interested in things that they see and like. 

Ergonomics and Anthropometry

Ergonomics is the study of adapting the workspace or product to fit to the user, an example can be when every object on your desk can be reached from your sitting position without a problem or when your office chair can the adjusted to your specific dimentions, the height from the floor, the depth of the seat, the height of the armrests etc. the main goal of ergonomics is to create a comfortable and safe environment.

Anthropometry is the study of body measurements and proportions, there are tables with anthropometric measurements available to check the average sizes of human bodies for different ages, countries etc. Applying correct anthropometry measurements to a design will result in making an ergonomic product.

I need to be careful when deciding on which anthropometry measurement should I use for casing. What I mean by that is who really will be using the case, of course kids but also adults such as teachers and a caretaker of the building. Fortunately, Raspberry Pi case doesn’t need any handles, gripping, buttons etc. therefore just need to make sure that it isn’t too big so that kids can’t handle it or too small to try and swallow it. 

Safety of the Product

Kids, but also adults, can be very clumsy, which can lead to accidental droppings. Safety of the product is the most important aspect of user centred design and you need to be more than sure that your product won’t cause any harm. There are cases of product being misused or used incorrectly by users and as a designer you need to see how the product could be misused on the designing stage and eliminate the possibility. 

When working with children, you can be sure that they will try and use the object in any other way than what it supposed to do, therefore making a product “childproof” is essential. A good practice would be reducing the number of components, make sure there aren’t any sharp corners and edges, no small parts at all cost, use of non-toxic materials that wouldn’t dissolve when inserted into mouth, easily cleanable and maintainable, is possible use a non-brittle materials.

Materials and Processes

it is required to use any additive manufacturing method (3D printing) available at the university’s site called PrintCity to manufacture the final enclosure. PrintCity offers a wide range of 3D printing technologies available for students, which are used for different applications and use different materials. As I am new to 3D printing technologies I decided to work and practice the most common technology, which is Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM). 

As for material, there is a huge list of materials that work with FDM printer, but this time I will be using a simple Polylactic Acid (PLA), mainly because I want to learn 3D printing from the basics.

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