Rapid prototyping for sustainable product design

On October 17, 2007 Martin Racine presented his work. He has a background in industrial design and communication science. In his current research he focuses on product design integrating ecological concerns. He is also interested in pedagogical, social, cultural issues related to design.

Martin talked about his PhD research, which was about Julien Hebert, who was a groundbreaking industrial designer of Quebec. He mentioned that the kind of research he did for this project was more like the research a historian would do. He had to learn the methodologies used in this field. Designers instead, have a different form of researching, focusing on the end product they are creating. He recommended readings by Nigel Cross, a promoter of Design as a research discipline.

Martin Racine's research focuses on the production of emotionally durable products by tapping the potential of rapid prototyping. Instead of throwing used or broken products out, the idea is to reassemble these objects to new design products. Pieces, which are created by rapid prototyping, can be added. The currently developped website project 'metacycle' is supposed to share ideas for the assembling of used objects to design pieces.

Questions came up, such as if the current economy lobby would be interested in producing sustainable products, as only constant production helps increasing profit. On the other hand there is the question, if this research is just a nice conceptual achievement. Either way, sooner or later, with our growing ecology problems, this sustainable product research will become more and more prevailing.

Brigitte Schuster
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