Remembering form when designing for function


Right now designs posted to thingiverse pretty much fall into two main categories: Art Objects, and Functional Prints. We are only just scratching the surface of what we can do and the circle of people touched by 3D printing is still rather small. I feel strongly that one of the things that will help make 3D printing catch on in a more mainstream way is great looking design with a purpose. I would love to see more “Functional Art” or “Ascetically Appealing Apparatuses” pop up. Once they do, I think we’ll really start to see interest grow. 

Now I’ll admit, usually when I’m designing something I need around the house my “design” phase consists of “will it fit where I need it? OK print it!” It’s a struggle, but I’m now trying to make myself consider the aesthetics as well. While I’m not much of a designer myself I thought I’d try to liven up one of my own “Functional Prints”. While my Logitech C910 Webcam Mount was fully functional, it was also just a couple of boxes stacked on top of each other. It made the perfect candidate for my first stab at pleasing design.

I took the functional design I had and made changes to both the durability, and (more importantly) the visual design. As you can see from the above image I went through several revisions getting there. I had to make changes to the wall thickness and add counter sinks to the front of the part. During the design of v3 I only had the intention of making the mount slimmer so it looked less like “here’s a box, it works, lets use it”. The position of the screws that mount the camera to the lamp formed a natural face and I almost HAD to add the mouth. Now, while you’re using the web cam you’re reminded to smile back! 

Taking my original overly bulky design and streamlining it not only saves plastic, but it also makes the part sturdier and more visually appealing. I’m now even more excited to see the shift in 3D design to include more objects that blur our aforementioned categories. There are some amazing designers on Thingiverse now (PrettySmallThings and Skimbal to name a couple) and I’d love to see what they and others like them can come up with that serve both these categories equally. If we can fully bridge the gap between art and function we’ll not only open up a new door of possibilities, we might just bust down an entire wall!

[thingiverse thing=18781]