So the main purpose of this project it to test open source design, by making a vacuum cleaner and finding ways to make it open source to the community, one of the ways this will be open sourced is by providing a set of instructions which are flexible enough to work with the materials that I had to hand but also to allow people in different countries and even different continents to build it with their locally available materials…
When buying a 3D printer last year for the University for the Creative Arts I looked at a number of different options however eventually settled on the machine which was in my opinion the best but also was the most repairable. Repairability comes under a number of different guises, one would be the use of specialist parts, another perhaps the durability of fixings, bosses etc.. as these can wear out with frequent disassembly. The main one is however the accessibility of replacement parts.
Replacement parts are themselves subject to a number of levels of repairability for example how much of the unit is made with standardised parts, belts, fittings, and fixtures like screws, bolts, nuts, washers, etc… Do they use standard sizes, or are they bespoke? Another aspect of replacement parts is availability, its all good and well using a metric size nut but if it is of unusual dimensions it may not be readily available at the local hardware store and therefore is almost as difficult to repair as having an entirely non-standard part.
With this in mind I think it is important to consider this project as more than just a set of build instructions, but more like a template that allows someone to build it using any locally available materials, and with that in mind provide examples of each item required, tools etc, but not to limit the design to a monolithic final design that is iterated over.
In someways having a template design and an example build puts more emphasis on the maker to spend time researching the best parts in their local area, but imparts some of the knowledge over to them on how to build a vacuum cleaner, rather than giving instructions like IKEA: ‘insert 10mm M10 screw (type C) into slot 2A on panel D4’, you say, ‘cut a hole in the side panel of the waste bin slightly smaller than the exterior diameter of the hose connector, then sand larger until the connector just pushes through’, this then enables the users to follow generic instructions and utilise our native ability to interpolate the intermediate steps.
My tutor has today suggested that I need to rationalise decisions based on available items in other countries, and consider manufacturing options that allow the user to go from completely hand made, through to highly polished CNC manufacture. He also suggested having individuals go make their own following these instructions. At present I am still waiting for a motor to retrofit into the non-working prototype made late last month for the work-in-progress exhibition at RCA.