Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Industrial Design and how good design improves lives.

Today, the existence of industrial designers is vital in regards to offering improvements to the lives of others through the improvement,alternation and solution development of every day- to -day products through design.

One designer who has inspired me through product re-design and development is Mugi Yamamoto with his new product, the Stack Printer.

Lets talk about our current every day to-day-printers, specifically inkjet printers. They are clumpy, heavy-weight and visually unattractive, they sit on your desk and take up mass amounts of well-needed space. Mugi Yamamoto has come to his senses, finding a solution for the current problems and has produced a fantastic design.

The Stack Printer simply works by placing the device on top of stacked paper and printing sheet by sheet, descending through the pile. The actual device itself is much smaller than existing printers, with a seriously reduced body size. So what does this size re-design offer in terms of manufacturing? Seriously reduced production costs. The actual mechanism of the printer has also been re-configuered, with the output of the printer being at the top, rather than the bottom, which is a nice alternative however, may be difficult to access if a lot of paper has been stacked.

So to cut the story short, Mugi's new design has completely removed the need for a clumpy and excessive output tray. Instead, we can now gracefully watch our printer work it's way through a stack of paper, which also reduces the need to keep re-filling the machine with new sheets so frequently, as a stack will last much longer.

Another feature which i really appreciate about this design, is the way the printer can be stored with such ease. The printer has 3 support clips on it's roof which can be folded down, making the device very slim/sleek and easy to store, which is very much impossible to achieve with our current printers.

In addition to many of it's elegant features, the printer does raise some issues in terms of paper stack and paper alignment. What is stopping the stacked paper from being knocked? Causing the printer to potentially fall, this is one issue that could be further discussed. Or simply, do not stack so much paper.

So there we have it, a an everyday product, improved for user use and performance by simply considering minor design features and developing solutions to make a long-term life improvement. Nifty.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New trends in graphic design: Using Long Shadows

A large amount of designers do not pay attention to the use of long shadows in graphic design. It is, however, becoming increasingly popular and actively used in creating icons for websites, logos and graphics products.

What exactly are long shadows?
Not difficult to guess, long shadows – it is shadow extending from the object, much more than usual.
Initially, this effect could only be seen in photographs where the sun was as close to the horizon (usually during sunrise or sunset), and all objects have an interesting extended shadow cast onto the ground. With this effect photographers have the ability to create dramatic shots. 
Long shadows have become really interesting when applied to graphic design, and has subsequently become popular.

How to create a long shadow effect?
To make long shadows you need to select an angle of approximately 45 or 120 degrees (depending on direction of light). The shadow must run off one side of the object. You must select the same shade but darker to get a gradient effect.

When a mere shadow cannot give a desired result, a long shadow can overcome this and create a bold effect. Thais, combined with a flat design logo, long shadows can create unusual perceptive effects.

What programs can be used for creation long shadows?
Adobe Illustrator is a professional program for graphic designers, and my personal choice. There are many different ways to create this effect in Adobe Illustrator and it is easy.
I have put together some steps to create a long shadow

Step 1
Select the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a rectangle with rounded corners of any size. In the example I used in the following sizes:   7 x 7 cm with a corner radius of 20px

Step 2
To keep it simple, we will apply effects to text, but the technique can be applied to any object. Write something on your icon.

Step 3
Keeping the text, go to the palette Appearance (Window> Appearance) and click Add New Fill at the bottom of the palette. Make sure the fill is created only in the palette below paragraph "Characters".

Step 4
And here the magic begins! Highlight the new fill in the Appearance palette and click on the Add New Effect. Select Distort & Transform> Transform and enter the settings as shown in the picture below. Later you can reduce the opacity (Opacity), for example to 12%.

Step 5
Select the rectangle, copy it and paste the copy over the text.
Click on the text and the top rectangle (make sure they are selected simultaneously), right-click and select Make Clipping Mask. Now the shadow of the text is within icons, and we can do the lower rectangle. Repeat the fourth step of the technique to create a rectangle the same long shadow.

Interested in graphic design? 
Why dont you see another of our blogs about choosing the best font for your design or colour choice for design

Blog written by Graphic Designer, Kseniia Ikonnikova

Is Kevlar really a stab-proof material?

Kevlar is advertised all over the internet as being a ‘Stab Proof’ Material that will resist stabs and save lives, but is this really the case?

Kevlar (or Aramid Fibre) Comes in many different forms, DuPont Kevlar, Heracron Nomex or Technora. It is a material that is comprised of Kevlar and other fabrics woven together. These combined qualities make it very difficult to cut through.

I have been doing some detailed research into Kevlar. I have seen Heracron samples and many other samples that claim to be ‘Kevlar’ But I have not seen a single sample that I haven’t been able to get my knife through after a few goes.
But why is this? Why is it that a material that is so famous for saving lives can be cut through?

Take for example armour protection. Look at the difference here between a ‘stab proof’ jacket and a slash proof shirt

This is the reason:
Stab proof vests are very thick. They are made up of many layers of Kevlar. These layers put together create such a thick barrier that a knife would take a hell of a lot of force to get through it.
Effectively, the material catches and resists the knife’s blow because the fibre is very strong. But this does not mean the material cannot be penetrated.

A mistake that is often also made with bulletproof vests is that they are also stab proof. This is very wrong. Bullets are very blunt objects and a vest softens the blow to a blunt object due to the material absorbing the impact, despite the speed. However a pointy sharp object can get through the weaves of the material and cause damage.

Kevlar by itself is not stab proof. It is merely ‘slash resistant’ This means you can run the edge of the blade over the material multiple times without any problem. This is still a great quality and has many uses, however it cannot save lives as people think.
Kevlar can be a great use for products that need a hard wearing material. Seatbelts are often made of a Kevlar material. This is because seatbelts often get worn and to avoid the breakage of a seatbelt in an accident, it can be assured that the seatbelt will stay unbreakable.

Stab  proof jackets are extremely thick and rigid and resists stabbing but the tshirt is able to protect you from the threat of blade edges and sharp cuts. Which is better? That purely depends on the application.  You cannot wear a thick stabproof jacket all the time and still have the flexibility to run all over the place.

It will be exciting when materials become developed enough for us to have flexible suits than can make us invincible to knives and bullets!

Here is an eyeopening video that shows just how effective stab proof jackets can be

Blog by Alice Parlett

Creating New Products this Christmas

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