Getting ahead with 3D printing

Master of Design Innovation student, Tiger ChongSheng Guo has been awarded the 2018 A' Design Award in the Digital and Electronic Devices Design Category for his 3D printed headphones, Aurelian.

Aurelian headphones against black backdrop.

The A' Design Award is an international design award, created to bring visibility to dynamic design businesses, innovative brands, creative designers. They have a particular focus on emerging designers. With this award, he has been nominated for their Designer of the Year award.

Tiger’s interest in 3D printing was sparked during study for the Bachelor of Design Innovation; where he majored in Industrial Design; and had the opportunity to be part of the University’s research partnership with Shapeways, an internationally renowned 3D printing company.

“The partnership between the university, Shapeways, and Stratasys has been great; students and staff receive discounts, invitations to conferences, and the opportunity to try new materials before they’re released to the public.”

Tiger created Aurelian, headphones that are constructed using 3D printing of precious metals, and a design in which he says was inspired by “breaking trends in the music design industry” for this final-year project in his undergraduate degree.

“With this project I very much wanted to design something unexpected. So often industrially designed products look similar; I knew I definitely didn’t want to design a regular pair of headphones that go over your head and are made of white plastic trimmed with brushed aluminium.

“There were challenges in the design and it took a lot of trial and error and an iterative design process to get to the final product. I chose brass and gold because they reflected the luxury and quality of the item far more than plastic would, but they are also less flexible. That presented the challenge of designing headphones that would fit the head without the risk of them being deformed by the process of the person taking them on-and-off and maintaining an ergonomic fit for a variety of head-shapes.”

Tiger says he was drawn to study design at Victoria University of Wellington because of the well-equipped studios and “unorthodox thinking and expertise in research methods, which are critical these days for any meaningful impact in the design industry.”

He is now exploring additive manufacturing and rehabilitative exoskeletons for medical patients for his master’s thesis.

“I want to explore additive manufacturing in the fabrication of smart materials. For example, we can program soft helmets to turn hard upon impact and absorb a tremendous amount of force based on its internal structure; or design orthoses for patients that grow with their recovering muscles.

“This was inspired by my desire to help the world and solve problems that humanity has had for generations due to limitations in technology and design.”