DESIGN TOOLS IN MATERIALS TEACHING: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE AND PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: Piselli, Agnese; Dastoli, Caterina; Santi, Romina; Del Curto, Barbara
Institution: 1: INSTM, National Interuniversity Consortium of Materials Science and Technology, Italy; 2: Chemistry, Material and Chemical Engineering Department "Giulio Natta", Politecnico di Milano, Italy; 3: Design Department, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Section: Collaboration and Industrial Involvement in Design and Engineering Education
The industrial panorama increasingly calls for multidisciplinary design professionals who integrate design thinking and engineering knowledge in developing new products and services. Taking into account this need, a practical experience was designed to combine the traditional theoretical framework of materials selection with industrial case studies application. This work explores the results of five one-week workshops conducted in collaboration with materials producers and manufacturing companies. Following the Ashby’s method, students applied a “Reverse materials selection” process to identify the applied materials and manufacturing solutions, without having any information about the current employed solutions. The students, then, were called to design innovative concepts by changing the materials the components were made of. The outcomes of this research are 48 product concepts, elaborated by 154 design students from 2013 to 2017. The works have been evaluated according to the materials selection process applied and the possible levers of material-driven innovation that emerged from the analysis (e.g., technological, functional or aesthetical/sensorial). From this, work emerges that materials selection could be a powerful driver for materials and products innovation. The proposed workshop methodology represents a win-win strategy for both university and industry: it improves the education quality, allowing students to acquire a professional-based knowledge about the materials and technologies most used in specific market contexts. The bottom-up approach helps designers in producing a more “aware design” and in exploiting the potentials and limits of the solutions already employed by the industry, envisioning the possible application of promising materials and technological advances.