Mountain or Molehill – the Disproportional Impact of Small Problems

Member News published by Plextek, under Innovation / Incubation, Manufacturing, Product Design, Research (Technology), User Experience

By David Eliston, Senior Consultant Product Design at Plextek. Sometimes the simple problems are the most frustrating. In a “normal” year I’d be a keen off-piste skier. This often involves a lot of hard and hot work, climbing or skinning up to access un-skied snow. Under these conditions, trying to regulate your body temperature means pulling on and off layers of clothing to suit how hard you are working, whether you’re in sun or shade, whether it’s windy etc. It’s often occurred to me as I’m starting to cool at the top of the climb, that given some bad weather and cold fingers, a jacket zipper that is reluctant to engage could be the difference between life and death. That’s maybe a little melodramatic, but it’s a very simple thing that could have significant consequences.

Back to the grim reality of working under lockdown…

Having lots of Zoom calls and Teams call with clients and colleagues I often see people fumbling with their phones trying to get them to stand up at the right angle to give a reasonable camera view of their faces. It’s an irritating problem and it doesn’t help us present the air of professionality that we all like to try to display. Given this problem, I’d normally reach for the Blu-Tac ™. But I thought that given the fantastic CAD and 3D printing technology that surrounds us, maybe we could do something better.

There are lots of downloadable files available for 3D printed phone stands. But I wanted to generate something that was a 1 piece print, that would allow for a range of phone sizes /cases and would be adjustable for phone angle so that we could change the position to suit whatever cramped workspace we happen to be working in at the moment. I came up with some concepts, but as usual, the best ideas came from discussing the problem with a colleague and bouncing ideas and sketches back and forth. We wanted a simple way of adjusting the angle of the phone, but without adding extra printed parts. We considered adding a set of ridges to locate the base of the phone in different positions but this restricted number of possible angles too much. We then looked for something that everyone might have at home which could be used to hold the base of the phone in the chosen position. That’s when the old supermarket trolley favourite came to mind. The £1 coin.

Plextek Phone standThe design we settled on prints well on a cheap and simple FDM 3D printer. We’ve printed a number of them for Plextek employees and have put a copy of the .stl file on this web-page below for you to download should you want to print your own. I hope that will mean one fewer niggly problem in your life. Happy printing.

Download your Plextek Phone Stand here: Plextek Phone Stand

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