Surprise Me: Clay, Card and Breakthroughs…

This morning, I started by playing with some polymer clay, producing a range of shapes. I was keen to see how textures might be produced by pressing them against things, such as wallpaper, leather straps and smooth surfaces. I was also keen to try and fold the clay, so when it dried it might mimic the plastic wrappings of a chocolate bar. I think my most successful outcomes came with trying to produced the thinnest layers of clay, which I then wrapped around rounded forms.

This afternoon, I undertook an often overlooked part of Product Design at university; reverse engineering. as an asthmatic myself, I have a number of old inhalers, one variety of which is an ‘Accuhaler’, a disc like product which can hold up to two-hundred doses of medication. From the exterior plastic casing, it is not obvious how the internal system works. Upon attempting to open the device, it became apparent that it was designed to be difficult to open and disposable. When I did manage to get in, I was greeted with a vast number of small white plastic components. The device functioned without it’s complete outer casing, which showed how a reel of plastic and foil were separated to release a pre-crushed powder by the tension of cogs. When using the lever, the numbered wheel turned to show one less dose remaining in the device. While there is no question that the device functions well, it might be considered over-engineered for a product which is designed to separates a foil ribbon from a plastic ribbon, before allowing the user to inhale the released powder.

Later, I considered the way that the mechanism functioned to put tension on the ribbons. Were there any other ways this tension could be produced which might simplify this system? I stripped the design to the bare essentials, a reel with two separable ribbons which released the medicine upon separating, running on a central shaft. The idea came to me at that stage, that if the ribbons were exposed to the exterior of the design, you could apply the necessary tension, on each, by hand to release the medicine. If the ribbons were numbered with the number of doses remaining, then this would remove the requirement for a numbered wheel altogether. This potential design would also owe itself to have easily accessible internals, a design idea I was keen to explore. I believe that if the casing is made desirable and precious, there would be no need to throw it away, only to replace the reel inside, this in turn would mean less waste too. With further development of card models, I have developed a model which resembles the human heart in some ways, a design I am going to explore further next with computer aided design.

The 'Accuhaler' foil and plastic reel.

The ‘Accuhaler’ foil and plastic reel.

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One Comment on “Surprise Me: Clay, Card and Breakthroughs…”

  1. Ken Allum says:

    I like stories like this, can we have more please.


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