Understanding scale and object size is an important component of manufacturing everything from tools to vehicles. In this challenge, you’ll explore the complex relationships between size, scale, and manufacturing processes by creating two versions of a Glowforge Catalog design — one full size and one scaled version — while maintaining its quality and effectiveness.
Think about when you’re looking for the right tool at the hardware store or in the tool box in the workshop. You may be looking through the aisles or drawers for the right Allen wrench or ratchet socket to construct your project. Without having the specific size for your hardware, your tool won’t fit properly and you’ll be left attaching pieces by hand, an insufficient and ineffective solution. Instead, using scaled pieces, you’re able to use the precise 3/8” wrench or 6mm socket that your project needs.
Just as William G. Allen and J.J. Richardson scaled their wrench designs in the past, you’re going to manufacture, test, and refine a scaled version of a product or design while maintaining — or even improving — its functionality.
Manufacturers are increasingly using 2D and 3D print technology to develop innovative solutions for consumer needs. Glowforge is the ideal tool for manufacturing scaled products. Its ability to cut, engrave, and score a range of materials into individual product components or full products makes it an ideal for versatile design and proportional scaling.
In addition to prototyping scaled designs, you can apply the same skills to manufacture other marketable scaled products. Toy cars, doll houses, kitchen sets, and Dungeons and Dragons figurines are all items that have been manufactured as full size products and then scaled into miniature models for customers. The manufacturers and makers behind miniatures commonly use a 1/2, 1/12, or 1/24 scale to maintain proportions of the original item in its new, smaller version. This allows manufacturers, hobbyists, and skilled full-time miniaturists to shrink down large items like an airplane or double-decker bus into an object that can sit on a desk or bedroom shelf.
Research and explore manufacturing techniques for scaling designs. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Scaling designs in the Glowforge App is easy. Explore the Scale Designs Precisely article for an easy-to-use overview of the process.
In the next stage, you’ll brainstorm ideas for your scaled design. Before moving on, are there any other resources or techniques you want to explore?
Start brainstorming different design ideas and scaling techniques. Think of as many as you can! You don’t need to worry about whether they’re good or bad ideas — just get creative. Think about:
Reflect and Review
At this point, you probably have many ideas for your scaled design. Take a moment to reflect on the techniques and ideas you brainstormed.
Are any of your ideas similar? Can they be grouped together?
Do any of your ideas stand out as favorites? Which ideas might you disregard?
What product are you most excited to scale?
What scaling techniques do you think will be the most helpful?
In the next stage you’ll narrow down your ideas to one or two. Is there anything else you want to brainstorm before moving on?
It’s time to create sketches or digital mockups of your ideas. Consider the following:
Which designs from the Glowforge Catalog will you focus on? What components may be challenging during the scaling process?
What digital tools or media will you use to create your scaled design? Depending on the design software or file, you may notice some distortion when you import into the Glowforge app. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure scaling success:
Designs imported as PDFs usually keep their sizes and proportions.
Some programs like Adobe Illustrator default to a different DPI setting, which can cause issues when importing into the Glowforge App. Watch this short video to learn how to resolve the issue.
Learn more about scaling considerations in the Glowforge Community discussions.
What tools and materials do you need to develop your design idea(s) using your Glowforge?
Are there any additional elements you need to create to maintain functionality?
What manufacturing specifications exist for the product that you are scaling? Review them to ensure that your final scaled design meets or exceeds these requirements.
How might you include visual elements like text, symbols, fonts, and color for your scaled product?
Some members of the Glowforge Community suggest adding a 1” square to a design before importing a file into the Glowforge App. This lets you check the measurements of the square to make sure that it has not become disproportional or skewed.
Reflect and Review
Now that you have spent time developing your scaled design, take a moment to reflect on your progress.
You’re almost ready to create your scaled design! Consider if there is anything you’d like to change in your design before you start creating.
Select one fully developed design. Using Glowforge, print full size and scaled prototypes of your design using appropriate materials. Consider the following:
If a prototype is too complex or takes too long to print, try simplifying it. Break your prototype down into smaller, more manageable components and test each component individually. If there are decorative parts of your design, you can select “Ignore” when you are printing your prototypes. This will reduce the amount of time the print takes, and you can focus on its function. Just remember to add the elements back in when you’re ready for a final print.
Reflect and Review
Think about the prototypes you created and tested during this stage.
Consider if there are any previous stages you might want to revisit, or if you want to rethink any part of your design before moving on to the Evaluation stage.
After creating and testing your prototypes, it’s time for feedback. Here are some sample questions to ask your peers in order to get useful and actionable feedback so you can make the needed adjustments to your design:
Record a video of yourself demonstrating your scaled design for your intended audience. Post the video on an interactive whiteboard like Padlet, or video discussion platform like Flip, to receive feedback on specific design elements or to expand your feedback audience.
Reflect and Review
Think about the feedback you received from others.
Once you have completed and finalized your full size and scaled designs, share them with a larger audience!