Archive for the 'Manufacturing' Category

Matchbox Cars 1965

Regular readers will know that I love a behind-the-scenes look at manufacturing processes, whether that’s Apple or a pair of scissors.  But it’s even more true when it comes to a product that I’ve owned many of during my childhood.

I’m also willing to bet that most people (certainly in the UK at least) have owned, played with, or collected many a Matchbox car over the years (they now look like this by the way).

My Dad was an avid collector with hundreds, if not thousands, of models so Matchbox is a very familiar brand that fills me with nostalgia even today, so this insight into their design process and production line is fascinating.

No 3D renders or CAD, just drawing boards and handmade wooden prototypes as part of the design process and production line to show how they were manufactured in mid-60s Hackney, London.

Many thanks to British Pathé for posting this online.

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Laser Cut Lexus

Laser cutting has been around for a while as a manufacturing technique for a range of materials, but I’m not sure I’ve seen anything as impressive as this created using that method. Especially out of cardboard!

carboard lexus1

With a somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach on the quest for the ultimate eco-friendly car Lexus have produced 1,700 sheets of intricately laser-cut cardboard.

The resulting model is a 1:1 scale version their new IS model as a “celebration of the human craftsmanship skills that go into every car they make”.

carboard lexus2

The model was produced in the UK by Laser Cut Works and Scales & Models who converted a 3D computer model into numbered cardboard slices and then assembled the entire model by hand.  The glue used for each 10mm layer took 10 minutes to set after every application.  That’s a lot of time waiting for glue to dry!

Turning a mundane material into a beautiful sculpture

Oh, and did I mention the car actually works too! Well, sort of.  There are actual working doors, a working steering wheel, and with the help of a concealed steel frame the model can actually be “driven” with an electric motor.

carboard lexus4

carboard lexus3

The level of detail is extremely impressive, from the cup holders in the centre console to the interior air vents.

carboard lexus5

carboard lexus6

Amazing stuff!  Watch the making of it here.

Via designboom.

How Pencils Are Made

I’ve looked at the seemingly simply pencil before, showing how complex each of the components that go into it really are.  But have you ever wondered how pencils are actually made?

I hadn’t, until this morning a tweet from Fi Scott caught my eye.

Anyone of a certain age will remember the brilliant programme Playdays that made daily stops along a bus route to different characters each week.  My favourite character was on Monday’s episode – the Why Bird.  So imagine my excitement when the tweet led to a video combining a childhood favourite with my modern day love for stationery!

Fascinating and educational!  Happy Friday!

Apple Mac Pro

Whatever your opinion of Apple there is no denying that they do design and produce some stunning products.  Their latest effort to gush over is the Mac Pro.

A stunning cylindrical housing, redefining what the personal computer looks like.  Built around an innovative heat sink core of extruded aluminium the Mac Pro boasts some of the most impressive technical specifications out there.

As a designer, part of what I enjoy is the design and manufacturing process behind the product.  Curious in understanding the materials and techniques involved to bring the concept to fruition.  Particularly with Apple these sorts of insights are often closely guarded secrets and rarely shown to the world, but it seems the Mac Pro revolution has given them a change of heart.

Extrusion, CNC milling and anodizing were to be expected (as was the polished chamfer technique that is used on the iPhone 5), but what’s particularly interesting is the development of the high velocity Deep Impact Extrusion that Apple undertook to guarantee the aesthetic of the space-age cylinder housing.

More specifically, I’m told the exact technique that the initial aluminium slug goes through is actually a combination of Deep Draw Stamping followed by Hydraulic Impact Extrusion, click through the links for a better explanation than I can offer.

The full production methods have undergone more scrutiny by Oregon-based designer Greg Koenig, who looks at the processes in much more detail here.  Even the fiber laser that deftly adds the “Designed by Apple…” we’ve come to expect.

This is one product that has definitely been driven by the design team, and not led by engineering or electronics.  Yes they were obviously involved, but nothing has taken the easy, cheap or straight forward approach that they would have liked.  These obstacles will have been met and overcome, all in the name of design.  Bravo Jony, bravo.


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