Digital Reconsiderations of the Commonplace: The Case for Collaboration

By David Celento.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This research project illustrates the potential for collaborative endeavors that reconsider commonplace objects, especially in light of emerging digital technologies. In 1947, Charles and Ray Eames created a leg splint for the US Navy using molded plywood. It was functional, light, strong, and became legendary among designers. The SPLAST revisits the topic sixty years later. The result of this investigation is 25% lighter than the Eames’ splint – weighing just under one pound – and is capable of serving not only as a Splint but also as a high-performance, custom-fitting Cast; hence the name SPLAST. With performance and precision as primary goals, I turned to extreme applications for inspiration – motor and sailboat racing, sports medicine, bullet proof vests, space suits, and garments for severe work environments – as well as a dizzying array of digital tools that included:
Laser Scanners
3D Digital Input devices
Haptic Clay Carving Tools
Laser cutters
CNC equipment
And a variety of 3D modeling softwares.

While certainly more expensive than traditional casts or splints, form fitting customized SPLASTS could be generated in as little as six hours. Pre-made low-tolerance SPLASTS could be easily fabricated and distributed in several ready-made sizes.

Keywords: CNC, Rapid Prototyping, Digital Fabrication, Interdisciplinary Design, Medical, Collaboration

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 1, Issue 6, pp.69-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 6.157MB).

David Celento

Assistant Director of Digital Fabrication Lab, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Now at Harvard, Graduate School of Design, I spent eleven years at Carnegie Mellon University teaching an interdisciplinary design class to students throughout the university. In an age of increasing specialization, this experience has given me a strong appreciation for interdisciplinary collaboration between specialists in order to push beyond recognized boundaries that exist in any given field. My specific area of focus is regarding digital opportunities to create innovative environments and objects that enable society to advance in ways not yet imagined. The goal is creations that perform so well that they serve without intrusion – like a natural gesture that requires little thought. This may only be achieved through the work of many diverse contributors.


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