Dunedin resident Dr Lynley Hood displays the handle of her
visibility stick which was 3-D-printed using a design customised for the shape and strength of her hand. Photo by David Beck
The product design industry is being revolutionised by 3-D
printers, providing significant benefits for the medical
world, a Dunedin design lecturer says.
‘‘I studied industrial design 20 years ago and back then it
was to teach you how to mass-produce products,'' Otago
Polytechnic product design lecturer Andrew Wallace said.
In the past 10 years, rapid prototyping had introduced a new
level of modification and customisation in the design
‘‘That stage of the process wasn't needed for things like
washing machines ... but it was needed for medicine.''
In the past five years, medical intervention reached a point
where mass-produced products, such as artificial joints, bone
replacements and prosthetics, were not valued.
‘‘They need modification, they need customisation. In the
world of medicine the biggest opportunity is in health and
custom devices - both external like a walking stick handle or
internal like a ... joining plate.
‘‘You can basically 3-D print a metal part - the world now
has 3-D printers that can print titanium, magnesium,
‘‘That is the future for product design - custom,
individually designed, specific solutions.
‘‘That changes the world.''
Product design now had global reach as it was a ‘‘weightless
skill'' - a product designer in New Zealand could design a
product on their computer and print it from any 3-D printer
in the world.
More product designers were needed to make the most of this
rapidly changing industry.
‘‘There are about 300 million customers looking for custom
solutions for existing problems or health problems they are
about to experience.
‘‘It should be the highest-supported industry in the country
for research and development.''
Product designers were only limited by their knowledge of
materials and geometry, and capacity to communicate.
Mr Wallace makes brightly coloured 3-D-printed handles for
visibility sticks, provided to the Visual Impairment
Charitable Trust Aoteroa. Founding trustee Lynley Hood said
the sticks helped make visually impaired people more visible
Mr Wallace is hosting free interactive online drawing classes
to introduce secondary school teachers, pupils and their
parents to product design.
‘‘I'm offering this course to give students skills and forget
about the quality of their drawing, forget about assessment,
and focus on a way of thinking,'' he said.
‘‘I'm going to teach them a way of thinking freely so they
can focus on the ideas, not the delivery.''
For more information about the online classes go to the
Drawing to Communicate Facebook page.
- by David Beck