FabLab Academy 2012

Manchester Lab

David Forgham-Bailey

Week  18: Invention,IP, and Income

Assignment: develop a plan for dissemination of the final project.

The original motivation, for this project, was to provide a range of props for our local theatre group. Each year we stage a live variety show, and next time I intend to produce an act which will involve ventriloquism.

This Fab Academy course has shown me that there are a number of potential directions that this project could follow in the future.

It remains a primary motivation to make the manufacture and assembly processes possible in any FabLab, using standard inventory items and processes. This could be an project for a novice to follow to introduce them to all the processes in the Lab. It could also be a way of global manufacture if demand required it.

Having researched around this project for similar work, it is clear that there may be a wider demand beyond our theatre group.

Through Kickstarter similar projects have successfully raised backing for small production runs and development work. One successfully funded project was originally designed for the film industry, and has now moved into education. In the UK there is nothing similar to Kickstarter, but in the autumn of 2012 Kickstarter will arrive in the UK.

Work on this project has drawn interest from other 'FabLabbers' working on rother projects. There may be a connection to be made in the future with Robotic projects.

On completion, it could be marketed as a Toy - Pelham puppets are now collectable items -

Craft Kit - produced as a kit - parts/plans

Future Developments:

Range of characters : eg. Muppets/Mr Men/

Similar mechanisms - different outer-shell/sizes/complexity/

Sensor Head - add sensors in eyes/ears/mouth/hands - possible addon for Scratch...

The design of the mechanisms used can also be put to other uses:

Pan/Tilt Head -

Final Project Status:


What questions need to be resolved? What tasks need to be resolved?

Throughout the course I have experimented with various techniques to determine the most appropriate way to manufacture specific parts for the final version of the ventriloquist duumy. I have still have to decide how to make the head unit and the internal parts. For control, I tried both Servo and Stepper motors - the servos are lighter but produce more noise - the stepper motors are much quieter in operation but bigger and heavier.

What has worked , what hasn't?

I used '123DMake' to make a trial head. I designed a solid head using 'Rhino' then converted this to a series of slices with a void for the internal workings. This was cut using the laser cutter, but when assembled it was considered not to be robust enough. Trial eyes had been made during the moulding and casting week. This method was very time consuming and did produce good results - but if possible it would be preferable to design a complete eye unit for 3D Printing.

What will happen, when?

Although the 123DMake head was rejected I decided to modify this method and create my own sliced head.
I will design a solid head with voids for the eye and mouth units. The whole head wil be constucted from 16mm slices then exported for Shopbot manufacture - this will produce a more robust head and be more like the traditional dummy head (normally carved from a solid wood block.)
The body and limbs will be made by cutting the shoulders and hips on the Shopbot with wooden dowels as support. Heavy duty Muslin will wrap the body and make up the arms and legs. These will be desiged in Inkscape and cut out using the Laser cutter, and stitched with the Sewing Machine.