Innovations that change industry and us

Giovanni Castellani – 

I do not know if our readers have ever visited, maybe out of curiosity, one of those small eclectic emporiums where all, or almost all, items are on sale at the standard price of 0.99 Euros. Besides foods and clothes, you can find various objects that a disenchanted look can subdivide in an interesting list by categories. Let us consider objects of common use for the house, the kitchen or small works, like those carried out with professionalism also by “part-time husbands at your service”, for hydraulic or electric plants. You can find items with standard simple shape. Others feature instead a more or less modified shape, we can say ergonomic, if we want to use emphatic words, to make them handier and more user-friendly; perhaps, besides practicality, they offer a pleasant look. Expert artisans have always tried to do that for immemorial time, and still do, but today the technology with higher design freedom emerges. Now your look can become interesting, you can do an evaluation exercise. You can distinguish the items manufactured with common sense but without the aid of particular technologies, for instance a pair of scissors with elongated opening for the fingers opposing the thumb, from those that reveal the origin from a model to your attentive observation. Example: an elegant milk creamer, with simple and balanced handle, and without tendency to drip. In those objects design has simultaneously developed for model and finished product, so that, if the model reveals some defects of use functionality, it is easy to intervene with tweaks for the manufacturing of the final product. While I am writing, I am watching the design development of a coffeepot that passes through the model design, with very simple and practical shape in terms of look and use. Buyers are not aware that this depends on the use of an innovative procedure, gradually evolved.

We must distinguish the various models, we have made basic examples that anyway already involve an industrial production. The essential concept is that, in a single specimen, you make a model, preliminary condition for an industrial production, aiming at quality improvement and cost reduction. Qualified institutes are equipped to do that, they deliver training courses for the staff and can already rely on expert personnel. This has required huge investments. The production technique has developed gradually and effectively, on the sly. Several new products have been designed by designing their model for a long time. The above-mentioned design of a coffeepot model already shows, as shape, the one of the industrial product. This technique has reached a very high functionality level, to the extent of being deemed vital presupposition for companies of all kinds and sizes ready to release a standard product or also to model a single product of which to test stress and resistance states by simulation. The model characteristics have gradually evolved and differentiated, with the extension of its function range. It can be preliminary to a rapid prototyping. It is possible that models of machine tool parts develop, or perhaps of a brick house to deduce its stress states by simulation, presupposition for an anti-seismic quality. We can define virtual models in collaboration with Universities providing apposite software. In comparison with the project designed by the designer with common sense or the craft production, a refined slow innovation occurred.

Nevertheless, recently, hand in hand and in contrast, another innovation has instead evolved at very high speed: the 3D printing. Step by step, it ousts the pre-existing modelling technique, with a heavy impact for those that had acquired the relative equipment. Today when we speak of model, we think of 3D printing. You can find information about it everywhere, but I would like to point out the manual “3D professional printing…” edited by Tecniche Nuove SpA.