Inspiring creativity with concrete

First year BSc (Hons) Product Design and BA (Hons) Product Design students recently worked on a project where they had to build a product using unconventional materials.

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Some of the students work.

First year BSc (Hons) Product Design and BA (Hons) Product Design students recently worked on a project where they had to build a product using unconventional materials.

The brief involved building a simple mono speaker cabinet to house a Kitronik MP3 amplifier kit. However, instead of using standard materials such as solid wood or MDF, they were tasked with producing the cabinet out of concrete.

BA (Hons) Product Design Course Leader Joseph Stewart explained: "This project was designed as a practical introduction to the extensive workshop facilities that we have at NTU. Students were tasked with creating a speaker and a bespoke stand completely from scratch. Many students excelled during the project and all of them learned many new practical skills, as well as vastly improving their knowledge of manufacturing processes."

The students had to consider how they would mix the concrete and with what ration of materials to include in order to produce the best projection and resonance of sound. During the moulding process they were given enough materials to choose between two options; one provided a smooth, more solid, finish and another gave a rough, more textured, one. They then had to find the best way to mount the electronics and speaker cone into the moulded concrete shell.

The students were only allowed a few hours to complete this task (excluding the curing time for the concrete) to encourage them to manage their time effectively and collaborate with other students more efficiently. During the finishing stage, the students drew up plans of how their electronics would be mounted. Most used laser cut Perspex mounting plates to fit on the front of the concrete mould. Some students even made wooden legs or stands for the speaker to enhance its practical use.

At the time, one of NTU's Senior Technicians, Kerry Truman (who helped create the project), said: "I am working to get the project pushed through a local school to help introduce the concept of new materials to product design and technology."

Since then, he has been to display the project in local schools, including at Fernwood School's annual design day.

Inspiring creativity with concrete

Published on 5 February 2015
  • Category: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

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