Speed bumps on the Road of the Venture

It has been a while since my last post, since then, my team and I have accomplished a lot. We learned a lot with our 1/2 scale cardboard prototype, we learned how to join the pieces in a very convenient way, and we ironed out the design for the hinge system. To join the pieces, we are using finger joints, sometimes called box joints, so that when the students put it together, it is very easy to figure out and require no extra materials join them. We already had a pretty final design for the hinge, but we needed to test it to make minor adjustments and make sure its perfect for the intended purpose.

The next step we took was learning to use the laster printer to suit our needs of cutting triple ply cardboard. For this, Margaret created a logo for ReSpIn to be cut out by the printer. On a Thursday morning, the logo having been completed, my team and I headed over to the lower school campus, where the Director of Media and Maker Programs at MVPS, Mr. Tiffin, walked us through the process of laser cutting. We brought with a file that had our design in it, and he brought his experience and a laser printer. Over the course of about an hour, with the help of Mr. Tiffin, we ended up with a peek of how to operate the laser cutter, and 2 copies of the ReSpIn logo. One of the logos was engraved into cardboard, and one was cut out of the cardboard. When we saw the logo engraved into the cardboard, we had an idea, what if we engraved a straight line into the cardboard, so it was much easier to bend, and then have those spots as our corners. Without these cuts into the cardboard, the cardboard would not be able to be bent to our satisfaction, at least not with the triple ply cardboard that we planned on using. Something that was very cool was that Mr. Tiffin had a class in Studio (i) while we were in there, and they were very interested in our logo,, asking us a lot of questions and commenting on how awesome it is.

After that learning experience with Mr. Tiffin, we were left with questions we had to ask ourselves, “Will our dimensions fit in the machine?”, “Where will we get the cardboard?”, and “What kid-friendly resources can we use to join our pieces?” We presented these questions to Mr. Boden, who in turn connected us with Mr. Tompkins, who is a Lab Manager for the Digital Fabrication Lab at Georgia Tech. Looking back on it, I think it is most valuable and helpful connection we have made so far. We arranged to talk to him about our design and learn more about the machines we can use to create our product. We arrived at 9:15 on a Thursday morning to what looked like a building attached to a warehouse, contrary to my expectations, which was it looking like a big school. When we arrived, Mr. Tompkins and his awesome beard were there to greet us and show us around. He first showed us a lot of his students’ work, most of them were beginners, having never touched a 3D design program before, while others were obviously more experienced. Next, he showed us all the machines that he had in the lab (which looked more like a warehouse than a lab). These machines were everything from a water jet and a $250,000 CNC (computer numerical control) machine, to a styrofoam cutter and a welding station. While these machines were all very cool to see and understand how they work, they all seemed a bit overkill as possible machines to cut our simple cardboard with. After the tour of the whole lab, we were left with little time to actually discuss the RISE system and our ideas with him. We had to make the most of what little time we had, so we settled down in a quiet room to discuss our ideas. We presented the design and our hopes for the outcome of the product, which he listened to very tentatively, and once we were done, he gave out his thoughts on it. Many of the beginning thoughts that he gave, we already implemented or were aware of, like putting the word “landfill” on the trash container, or making a distinction between the social changes we want to inspire, and the actual product. Then, he introduced many possible and likely problems we will run into when creating and implementing the product. The first of which, was our joinery system, as I said earlier, we were planning on joining our product together using finger joints, but one problem that Mr. Tompkins saw in this was that if we wanted our product to not fall apart, we would have to use a different material, as cardboard is very soft and the joints would very easily become undone. Then, continuing why we shouldn’t use cardboard, is that if the product gets wet, which trash and recycling bins often do, the cardboard will disintegrate and will no longer be able to function in the classroom. One question this poses is, “Is it worth it to replace the product every 2 months just for the luxury of being able to use cardboard?” We immediately decided as a team that the answer to this question is no, as it just wouldn’t be an efficient way to spend our time or money. Then, he brought up a problem with the model of how we plan to have the students put it together. We were planning on having the students fold a piece of cardboard into 4 sections, forming a box without sides, twice, then placing 2 long pieces of cardboard into slits on the sides to unite the 2 boxes and fill in the sides. However, Mr. Tompkins said that the current model that we present will not be strong enough to hold up a recycling bin and anther sideless cardboard box, and that we would have to put that model on its side to have enough support to support said recycling bin and cardboard. Since wood was already on our minds as a possible material, I think using wood will be much better than continuing on the path of cardboard as a material for the product. Using a wood as an alternate material will solve a lot of the problems that we have been running into, but I don’t know if using wood will create even more. After that, we had to depart and come back to school to be on time to our other classes, so my team and I thanked him and retreated back to school. Since we do not have iD on Fridays, my team and I did not get a chance to discuss about the roadblocks that he brought up, but the conversation that will take place today will decide the future steps we will take with this venture.