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Reflection on Prototyping with Foam

Over the last week and a half in our prototyping class we learned about and started working with foam. We learned about the many different types of foam, their uses, and how people have used foam before. After conducting research on foam with my presenting partner Wes, I started thinking about what design I might want to prototype. I began by sketching out some basic ideas in a very rough format. I then decided that I would prototype an interactive iPad dock that would be used with Adobe software and could double as a tablet with a pressure sensitive pen. I selected this concept because it would force me to use foam in ways that I haven’t before, as well as integrate different materials into the foam.


Once my concept was selected, I began sketching the design in more detail. As I was going to make the prototype as close to size as possible, I sketched my design from multiple angels. This allowed me to ‘see’ how the design would look in the 3d world, as well as better understand the physical experience of my design. When I got my sketches to a point to which I was happy with them, I began looking at what type of foam I might use. I decided upon Florist’s Foam as it was blocky, easily shapable, and could be glued together.

I first cut out the appropriate blocks to form one large appropriately sized block. I then cut each foam piece individually to the appropriate angel. From there I glued the individual pieces together to form a whole piece. Letting the glue set overnight proved that even simple Elmer’s glue would hold together Florist’s Foam.


Once my glue had set I carved out the initial inset with a Dremel tool and sanding attachment. From there I took a power sander and lightly shaped the inset to appropriate depth. Finer details were ‘carved’ using sandpaper wrapped around my finger. This proved a useful technique and was very fast. Once my shape was completely carved out I added the interactive buttons and small e-reader display using paper.

In the end my prototype was sturdy and proved a good tool that I could use to better communicate my design. Florists foam was an appropriate choice, but I learned just how fragile and messy it can be. I would have liked to better finish the prototype using bondo or a plastic dip, but this was unnecessary for this particular prototype.


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