Rapid Prototyping Flat Pack

Brief

• Product must be constructed from at least 10 pieces

• Parts must be laser-etched with graphics (where appropriate)

• Material must be wood, acrylic or other laser-compatible material

• Instructions and cover sheet should be attractively designed and laid out

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Development

I decided to make a bedside table. I just moved to San Francisco for a year and have been using a cardboard box as a nightstand. It was time to upgrade. I wanted to make a product that would be useful, primarily for myself.

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Since I don’t like unnecessary complexity, building something “from at least 10 parts” was taxing. My final design had 13 parts. I challenged myself to keep material waste as close to 0% as possible. Through necessary slits (because I didn’t want to use glue or nails) I ended up with 2.4% waste, which seemed acceptable. If this product were to be mass-produced, I’d optimise the part layout for less waste.

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For materials, I went with clear acrylic and ash plywood, both at 3/16″. This project taught me the imperial system. The acrylic is laid out on a 24″×18″ sheet, the wood on 24″×12″. I was inspired by the transparent Kartell furniture but also wanted a wooden tabletop. You could call it skeumorphism.

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Prototyping started as a foam board model and then moved on to plywood and finally extruded acrylic. I picked up some cherry wood tape and used it to finish the laser-burnt edges.

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In the end, I made some instructions and a presentation board. We had to assemble one unit ourselves and leave one in the sheet, for somebody else to build.

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