A Student's Perspective On Design To Manufacture

Being hit by the smell of molten plastic is an experience a book or a PowerPoint slide cannot give you.

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by Tom Alway

Recently, I paid a visit to Amtek Plastics, an injection moulding company who Hillside Product Design work with closely in productionisation and manufacturing of products. They were kind enough to take me on a tour around their factory to show me how their company operates.

Once inside, I felt like a kid in a sweetshop. The visit gave me the chance to see some of the design projects I have been involved with, as they come to reality.  It was fascinating to see the process in real life as I am currently a student on a placement year for a product design degree at Bournemouth University, so observing these processes was very informative.

A product design degree is great for understanding the theory and visualising the workings of manufacturing techniques but being there in person gives a whole other dimension to the learning experience.  Being hit by the smell of molten plastic and the heat being produced by the machines, is an experience a book or a PowerPoint slide cannot give you. Obviously smelling the plastic and feeling the heat is not something that adds to building knowledge but it does engross you in the manufacturing environment.

Immediately being drawn into everything around me, I couldn’t help but get in for a closer look at the machines. Seeing material being fed into the hopper and how all the elements of the tools and machines work together gave me another level of understanding on top of all the diagrams and annotations I had studied in the past.

From a designer’s point of view, being able to see an injection moulding tool makes you appreciate the importance of designing a component to best suit the manufacturing process. Having seen the tool for a component I have been involved with, I now understand why certain design practices were used in order for the manufacturing process to be successful.

There is a lot to keep learning after a degree, especially in an industry where technology is constantly progressing. Hillside Product Design recognise this and continues development with a programme of educational visits to bring manufacturing theory to life and enhance design for the various manufacturing processes.

I would urge any student in the design and engineering field to make the most of visits like this.  There is no better way to learn and develop knowledge than getting stuck into how the processes we study, actually happen.

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