Printhesis by Roel Deden. Gold Award, Students
Even while he was studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Roel Deden founded his own design studio, that offers services from conceptualisation to 3D visualisation to production preparation. Since 2014 he has been working at Scholten and Baijings after a spell working with Philips Lighting Design as a freelance designer.
We asked him three questions about his project that won the Gold Award in the Students category.
1. What problem does your project offer a solution for and how does it work?
For my graduation project from the Design Academy Eindhoven I chose to focus on prostheses. After researching the production process of modern day prosthetics and seeing the price tag on them, I decided to make them cheaper and made many sketches to research the possibilities. When I met Lianne Scheepers, she told me about her problem and the solution became clear to me. So I started printing small 3D models to rethink the prosthesis.
When Lianne lost her arm following bone cancer, normal tasks became difficult for her. Her favourite activity was to create jewellery from metal wire and beads. The prosthesis she was given had a socket made from glass fibre and titanium parts and was attached with large bands around her shoulders to her body. This prosthesis costs about 8,000 euros and took 6 months to make, because the production process is so labour-intensive. In the end, she never used her prosthesis, because it seemed to be too heavy and uncomfortable. The springs in the hook made it hard to estimate the amount of force transferred to the objects she would grasp. Because she has had to wait so long for her prosthesis she was already accustomed to her new self-image without her arm, which made the arm shape obsolete, as was the rubber hand that was provided.
The Printhesis is attached to the stump with an elastic textile armband. The plastic pads spread the force over a large area of the arm and the torso, which gives great comfort while working with the tool. The lightweight design makes it possible to wear the Printhesis for extensive amounts of time without discomfort. Because of its modular nature, the tool can be used for many functions. Lianne’s Printhesis fits for working with jewellery parts with cavities so that it’s easy to grasp beads of various sizes. Because the product is 3D printed, it is easy to create custom parts for other specific functions.
2. How did your design process unfold; what steps did you take, what were the challenges?
After some time during the process it became clear that the socket was not actually necessary and we decided to create a tool instead of a limb. This made the design much lighter and more comfortable. We tested these functions and sizes with full-scale 3D printed prototypes. The plastic extrusion prints where not strong enough to handle the forces, so the next version was made from a combination of a stronger, laser sintered plastic polyamide and a plier part made of stainless steel. This model seemed to be strong enough but the metal could not be printed accurately enough for the parts to fit together. Also the weight was an issue. The last version was fully printed with polyamide, strong and white plastic with a more robust plier part that could handle the force. This version became superlight and very cheap compared to the previous models.
3. What are your criteria for “good” design and what role do you think design will play in the future?
I think good design solves problems and is aesthetically interesting. Good design should be innovative and sustainable. I strongly believe design should be a dialogue where we strive to improve our creations and not just a sauce that we pour over existing products. Good design empowers people to make the right choice without belittling them. I think future design will be more about creating holistic systems and platforms that don’t have to be tangible and is not as wasteful as current design processes.