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Paul's top 10 tips for workshops

Posted: March 06 2022

Made In Brunel, Design
Made In Brunel, Design

This week we speak to Paul Josse, Head Technician of Design Workshops at Brunel, to get his top tips for model making.

The following tips and advice have been based on what the technicians have seen in the workshops over the years. Whether you are model making for ADI (Advanced Design Innovation, formerly known as Contextual) or Major project, hopefully, these tips will help in the run-up to the fast-approaching deadlines in term two, and will hopefully aid you in producing some high quality work for both the Made in Brunel showcase and the accompanying book.

1. Drawings

Making things in Design is all about communication, and one of the best methods for communicating an idea is a drawing. If you want to find out from one of the technicians how to make something, then please have some form of drawing. It doesn’t even have to be a CAD drawing – A simple sketch can sometimes be enough to communicate your idea.

design drawings MIB

2. Development

Particularly regarding ADI, development modelling in soft materials such as yellow foam, card or even 3D printing is not only essential to resolve your design and the final form, but it also brings significant benefits when it comes to making your final model. You will already have worked on the form, used the workshops and you will also have a final sketch model to help talk through your design with the technicians. It is so much easier to visualise a final model when presented with a good final sketch model.

design workshop MIB

3. Plan your time

This sounds obvious, but this is one of the most important things to keep in mind when planning your workshop time. Factors such as workshop opening times over Easter and waiting times for machines and technicians will all have to be factored into your plans and are often overlooked. The most common mistake we have seen over the years is underestimating the amount of time needed to make something in the workshops. When planning your time, as a rule, things are likely to take twice as long as you think they will.

4. Start early and engage with the technicians

In short, the best models submitted for ADI every year are from the students who were in the workshops early. The earlier you start, the more time the technicians will have to help you and the waiting list for machines and services will be shorter.

5. Choose the most efficient method of manufacture to achieve the quality of work required

The technicians can advise you on this, but it is about choosing the most efficient way. If that turns out to be 3D printing, then that’s what you should use. Most people in design enjoy getting hands-on in the workshop but it doesn’t make sense to make hard work for yourself if it’s not necessary. Several different processes are usually employed to produce a final model, and the final product will be a combination of techniques.

6. Do not use FDM 3D printing for finished aesthetic models

Some of the worse models we have seen handed in for ADI have been printed on an FDM printer. If you are going to use 3D printing for model parts, then stick to Polyjet or SLA. If in doubt, get some advice from the technicians.

7. The small details make the difference

In practical hand-ins, the best quality work always stands out because of the care taken with final small details. Never underestimate just how important this can be. Modelmaking is all about attention to detail, however small.

8. Screens on models

Unless it's important to show a graphic on the screen, it is usually better to model screens in their off state. This is done simply by spraying the back face of a piece of acrylic black.

design model MIB

9. Use decals/rub down transfers for fully finished models

These aren’t cheap but are worth the cost. The quality and thickness lend them to fully finished models. Avoid using vinyl unless these are what would be used on the actual product. There are several companies who will produce a sheet of decals for you and the technicians can advise on where to find them. Try to fill up the sheet with all the decals you require – it also reduces the cost by doing this as a group.

design workshop2 MIB

10. Do things properly and accurately

Okay, this might sound obvious, but it's one of the most common mistakes we see. Sometimes it takes a significantly longer to do things the right way. It will always be time well spent though. If you try to cut corners, it will just mean that you might end up having to make it again the right way anyway.


Stay safe

We want everybody to enjoy their time in the workshops this term and reached the end of term without any accidents! Tiredness and stress don’t go well with workshops so please keep this in mind in the run-up to hand-ins!


This blog was originally published by Made In Brunel. Read the original blog post here.