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Need to find a flexible, yet rigid material!

Discussion in 'Product Design, 3D & CAD' started by maximumbeech, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. maximumbeech

    maximumbeech New Member


    Cool forum here, first time :)

    I have got my A2 Product Design Coursework due in a matter of weeks aannndd...I haven't decided on how to make my product yet.

    It is to be an adjustable stand for phones and tablets. I was looking at a metallic design with flexible metal tubing, similar to this lamp for example:

    However, I feel the design is lacking. And then I found this:

    I can't find what the material they have used is, but if anyone knows of it, or similar, I would very much appreciate the help!

  2. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Welcome to the forum.
    It tells you what it's made of on the page you link to....

    It 'might' have an internal frame/wire made in a similar way to the 'flexible curves' (aka spines) you use to draw custom bezier curves to give it rigidity. Having said that there are a lot of different types of silicon so there could be one which has a more rigid flexibility to it.
  3. maximumbeech

    maximumbeech New Member

    Hi Levi!

    Sorry, I should have mentioned that yes, I have seen this. Although as you say, it does not elaborate on much. I am not great on materials, and have frustratingly not got very far with trying to find the correct type of silicon. Could you help point me in the right direction please?

    EDIT: Do you know perhaps a UK-based site where they sell silicon, either a flexi type or a rigid fleci structure please? Or do you know please what type of metal wire would not wear and snap overtime?

    Many thanks,

  4. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    It would likely help if you show us the design. You might have other options for material choices which you haven't considered.
  5. maximumbeech

    maximumbeech New Member

    To be honest Levi, I don't have much of a specific design in mind. Specs are below:

    It will use microsuction tape to stick to the floor for stability and to hold the device
    -Must be adjustable
    -Must hold tablets and phones
    -Must allow for devices to charge when it is holding them
    -A modular design, so it can be used like a lecture stand or on a table

    My previous idea was to have a aluminium cone as a base, with the metallic, bendable hose to adjust the devices height and angle. There would then be a telescopic tube that could be added in for lecturn use. A simple plate would connect to the metallic tube with the microsuction tape on to stick to the tablet.
    The issue is that its not the most pretty design, and this iLamp like design is beautiful.

    So I need help. Either in trying to source such sort of flexi silicon in white to fit over a design like I have just attached, using some bendable metal that won't wear out, or use some flexible/rigid special silicon like material. Then have an extra flexible connector section which could be added when a lecturn is used, which could be folded down to use less or more, as required.

    My very rough design:

    Thanks for your help

  6. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    It will use microsuction tape to stick to the floor for stability and to hold the device-Must be adjustable - I will tell you now this will not work.... it will be too top heavy
    -Must hold tablets and phones - flexible shelf pop out section
    -Must allow for devices to charge when it is holding them - usb port :)
    -A modular design, so it can be used like a lecture stand or on a table - does it need to be modular, this really does over complicate the design based on that drawing.

    In a roundabout way you could get away with a flexible frame (get one of the flexible curves and open it up for construction - pretty sure it's a steel being used inside) and a thin plastic like acetate/vinyl or a thermoplastic elastomer.

    If it was me I'd like look at the idea of using a different approach, look at how gorillapods work using their 'spherical' legs, I'm pretty sure I've seen a variation that works via magnets (like buckyballs).

    Alternatively, lose the flexibility of shape and go for a 'one size fits all approach' using a bent wood (thin layers plywood will work nicely with a varnish :)). Take the design and then cut out a section for the laptop/slate that 'folds out' from the main shape. The remaining section goes up higher and houses a thin led strip which can shine down on the keyboard etc if needed.

    If I get a minute I'll do a sketch to show the idea. It will be a lot easier to produce and in my opinion look classier than a 'plastic' version.

    EDIT: added a really rough sketch to show the idea... yeah I know the quality is poor quality but it shows the idea and after all I'm not doing all the work :p You can change the curve however you want etc.

    Attached Files:

  7. cambridgedesign

    cambridgedesign Junior Member

    Hi Max,

    Levi marks some great points. You need to think about what you want to hold - the mass will guide your choice of support. There is a vast difference in mass between iPad and phone.

    ball-and-socket arms - you can get these off amazon very cheaply (no need to buy a gorilla pod) look for flexible coolant pipe. This stuff is used on CNC machines to direct coolent. If you get a big diameter you sould be able to support a phone easily.

    As already mentioned the flexi light is a elastomeric material (probably silicon rubber) with a metal wire internal 'skeleton'. This would not be an off-the-shelf part I'm afraid.

    The micro sunction material is great for attaching a device to the stand. The material is available here (no UK distributor)

    A static stand would be a lot more straightforward in my view. Good luck with the project.
  8. maximumbeech

    maximumbeech New Member

    Thanks a lot guys for your responses, and especially to the drawing, looks great and clears up your description a lot.

    I agree the modular design is not particularly great, but as this thing is gunna be marked, sadly I need plenty of functionality.

    Thanks for both of your suggestions. I am put today, but will try to decide my final route tomorrow, and will let you know what I decide.

  9. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Don't just stick the kitchen sink into your design, product design isn't about seeing how much we can add to a design it's about making the design 'perfect for it's usage scenario'. I hate to use apple as an example but they're a perfect example of refining down to the pure minimum, look at their laptops, they've removed old sockets which aren't used, they've simplified the design into a simple slab, they've not gone the route of say alienware with neon lighting everywhere (different target market obviously).

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