Following is a post by Industrial designer Noel Wilson. Noel has worked in Australia, the UK, Africa, Canada and the USA, on a wide range of projects from playgrounds to bike carts, with tools as diverse as rapid prototyping machines to hand chisels, here is his take on getting things prototypes and slowtotyped in Malawi. Thanks Noel….
Access to rapid prototyping in remote countries is not as hard as you might think. All you need is an internet connection and a CAD monkey (or at least the CAD monkeys email address, or if you are one yourself then all the better).
I was based in Malawi, so the internet was kind of a challenge, but I managed to get my file uploaded to Shapeways, and my model delivered. I needed a model to partake in some ‘Slowtotyping’ (Slow Prototyping), using high-tech to inform an old-tech art form. After failing to communicate sufficiently with 2D drawings I wanted to use a 3D printed version of my toy design to communicate what exactly it was that I wanted to be replicated by a local artisan. Using 3D printing to communicate…
form made for much better results, making it so much easier to transcend the different ways we had of working. Although there are FAB LABs in Kenya and South Africa, Shapeways was much more accessible for me (and had free delivery!). I will be Slowtotyping again in January, this time in Tanzania, and will be aiming for product prototypes rather than finished toys. Stay tuned.
Noel Wilson, Adventurous Industrial Designer