With my choice of dissertation paper; the conference paper i was required to give a 10 minute presentation. during this presentation i presented the main ideas that i write about in my dissertation.

Stated by Darwin in 1859; what can be more curious than that of the hand of a man, formed for grasping, that of a mole for digging, the leg of the horse, the paddle of the porpoise, and the wing of the bat.

The  design process is a confusing thing even if you understand it and use it everyday, there are 6 main sections; discovery, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement. However for the purpose of this paper i change test and implement into the future of the design.

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The discovery phase provided main research for the identified problem

  • hand trauma; nearly accounted for 3.7 million visits to A&E in the USA during 2008 (Mcevenue, 2016)
  • medical students not having efficient knowledge of anatomy can lead to problems; there has been a significant drop in knowledge of hand anatomy from 1992-2008 (dickson 2008)
  • hand deterioration begins after the age of 50; and after 60 there is a rapid decline in grip strength of 20-25% (carmeli 2003)
  • Designing a product there are important things to think about; thinking of peoples aspiration, uniqueness, values and lifestyle need to be considered otherwise many products for the disabled or elderly may be rejected (soarces)
  • for a product involving grip and grasp strength; correct finger movement is very important that object should first touch the proximal phalanx, middle, than finally distal phalanx (massa 2002)

Define; there were 2 main products that were analysised; arthritis gloves and adaptive grip cutlery.Going forward with the design concept there are 2 main options for a product;

  1. attachment or glove for the hand
  2. an adaptive grip for slender objects most likely cutlery

there were 2 main design concepts that were discovered during this paper; an aesthetic concept and a technological concept. The aesthetic concept; is a combination between a shape that was chosen from an anonymous survey, a modern look and colour concept, with a  creative and vintage detailing patterns for the piece. the technological concept was based around a current product of a silicone hairbrush handle, which make the hairbrush easier to hold and grasp, which is useful for the product that i am working on.



A dissertation comes with many challenges, but challenges are the point of doing a dissertation, challenge yourself to learn without being taught, challenge yourself to read, write and write some more, challenge yourself to come up with an interesting question. An interesting question is not only important to allow the person writing a dissertation to stay focused on the topic and the question, but also so there is enough to fill a dissertation paper with.

The question I chose to focus on was; to study product development with hand deterioration, and research how a product can solve issues with the functionality of cutlery.

There are a few topics to this question which appear in it; product development and issue solving, hand deterioration and the functionality of cutlery. Within these topics there are even more points to research, starting with product development; using the design process to write my paper determines how the product is developed. The design process is made up of six main sections; discovery, define, ideate, prototype, test and implement. Each section allows for new discoveries to be made about where the design of the product is heading, who the product might be targeted at, or how it might affect the target market. These are all very important things to identify during the design process, however, also understanding and remembering the chosen target market, their emotions, wants and  needs. Itis vital to think about all of these when redesigning an existing product or developing a new one. This is especially true when designing for the disabled or the elderly, as these demographics can sometimes go unnoticed. When designing products it is important to think of the uniqueness, emotions, values and daily life activities of those who will be using it. Not only is the target market important, but so is an awareness of the current market; together with a knowledge of what is currently being sold based around the issues with current slender cutlery design; cutlery, products to do with cutlery (adaptive grips or cutlery for arthritis sufferers), products for people with arthritis, products for hand deterioration, products for the disabled.

The target market is the first aspect that was defined; hand deterioration is a needed factor, so is this deterioration due to trauma or due to age? From research which was completed during my paper, I found that deterioration due to age will occur to everyone, it commonly starts after the age of 50 with approximately 0.72% muscle mass decrease per year and continues to become worse as the person ages. Whereas trauma, which can be defined as an injury, can cause a range of impediments which will then set off a domino effect with a large range of consequences; they are all different and even if two people have the same injury it does not mean that they will recover at the same rate, or even suffer the same complications. Furthermore this means  by having so many variations of injuries and consequences, there are too many factors to try and take into account to be able to create a product for all people with trauma, around the problem that has been proposed for the paper. Therefore I chose my target market of both men and women from the age of 55 to 65 years old which is when the deterioration of the hand begins, starting with decrease in muscle mass and a 20-25% decrease in grip strength after the age of 60.

As already mentioned the question for the dissertation is vital to the paper, so how do you come up with one? For me the idea behind the question came from watching my grandparents struggling to eat properly year after year due to the size of cutlery that was available. Eating was a particular hardship for my grandfather who suffered from many medical problems; which stopped him from being able to walk, sit down without help, and hold slender items. His hands had severe arthritis in them, with his fingers having swollen to almost 3 times their usual size, with massive reduction in the range of motion in both the hand and wrist, and decreased grip strength in both hands. By taking on a topic that is obviously very personal and close to my heart it caused an emotional challenge for me, though it was a challenge, in reflection I worked harder and more persistently on this topic than I may have if I had chosen a different less emotionally tugging one. I have been wanting to challenge this problem with slender cutlery for many years, I am happy that I have finally jumped the hurdle and come up with a valid and useful conceptual design, which can still be further developed to create a fully effective and satisfactory design for a new adaptive grip.

In reflection to the topic of my dissertation, it has definitely pushed me to work harder and research more. I’ve always thought that I was quite good at the research sections of the design process for my subject projects, but by doing dissertation it has proven to me that there is always more research to be completed and that going deeper and head first into research is always better and will lead to more innovated and reasoned designs in the end. In reflection of writing my dissertation, I’ve written essays before, but nothing compares to the brain function that I have had to use during the writing and editing process of this dissertation. Though once I know what I am writing and how I am writing a piece I don’t find it too difficult to find the words that needed to be said. All I really need is enough time after it is written to allow me to edit it many times, which frankly now feels like over a thousand times. Now that it is finally all written and edited I think I can safely say  I do not wish to write another essay for quite some time, not for the fact that I do not like essays but because I believe my brain needs some serious time to recover.


Development of Dissertation Artefact;2nd Dec 2016

After making rapid prototypes in blue foam, i was then able to think about ways of making the same shapes in silicone. First i asked people to tell me which of the models felt nicest to hold in their hands, i made 3 moulds using the vacuum former. Using blue foam for this i realised was not the best idea as blue foam + heat + very hot plastic + compression = problem of getting blue foam back out of the vacuum form plastic.

3 different sized grips were vacuum formed, sizes below;

1) 40mm X 15 mm (w) X 150mm (h)

2) 40mm X 25mm (w) X 150mm (h)

3) 30mm X 25mm (w) X 150 mm (h)

With two different shore strengths of silicone it allows for room for experimentation before creating a final working prototype. I was successful in creating 2 prototypes (so far) out of the 15 shore strength casting silicone, which I believe is appropriate and will work for the concept that I am designing, as this silicone is squishy and allows the hand to grip this handle and conform to the hand in the way that anyone who holds this handle will need. I haven’t been successful yet in casting the higher shore strength as of yet, this may be because of the mixing ratio, or something else.

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Development of Dissertation Artefact; 24th Nov 2016

Now with a valid and working concept design its time to start prototyping the concepts, same shape different sizes, scaled up versions to see how the different detailed patterns might feel.

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With a few rapid prototypes made they need to be tested to see which size and pattern might be correct and feel right in the hand. But when testing these models it is important to remember that the blue foam material does not share the same likeness and feel of the material I am planning on using to create the product. The material I am hoping for this product to be made out of silicone and this is a slightly less hard and structured material which will have more give to in once it is held in the hand. So to be able to understand this difference, I ordered some casting silicone material in two different shore strengths to allow me to test which might be best or if a mixture (like i am hoping to do) will work as well.

Progress on dissertation artefact; 10 November 2016

After the let down of not being able to complete ethnographic research due to not being allowed to visit the facilities, it meant that i was slightly set back. To get around this problem i decided to visit a few stores in town and see what they are currently selling in the cutlery departments, to understand the current market a bit more.

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After visiting the stores i set up a survey on survey monkey, which i then sent off to my parents (who fall in the target market age) to send on to there friends. By doing this i was able to get a correct results for my target market, the survey was based around cutlery and the features and aesthetics that the target market age group will look for, it was also aimed to understand how important choosing and using cutlery is in daily life.

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the information that i recieved back from the survey was able to help me refine what people in my target market look for most in the cutlery they chose to buy.

The cutlery that was most liked in the survey was;


the second highest was;


both of these sets of cutlery have a clean, simple aesthetic to them with limited design features, therefore for my product i have also decided to take this approach with my design, a simple clean design with detail that will be similar to the second set of cutlery.

Dissertation artefact progress; 15th Nov 2016

Moving on form the knowledge that I gained from my survey and looking in stores for current cutlery, it allows for development of the design to continue in the right directions.

using the two designs above which were chosen to be bought by my target market in the survey, I began to develop some design concepts.

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the design concepts above go on the idea of wedding silver cutlery, also by using the detail on the bottom of the adaptive grip, it allows for the suffer of the piece to have a grip surface in a much more visually aesthetically pleasing way then just having a simple textured surface.

to develop the idea more I drew up some cad renders of these design concepts to see how they would look in the 3D world.

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Dissertation artefact progress: 20th oct 2016

After researching  the existing market for products and completing competitor analysis it then makes it easier to write a brief to follow to hep design a product that functions well and solve the problem.

The brief for my dissertation artefact is;

Design a product, to help the early sufferers of arthritis (aged 50-60 years old) to complete daily tasks easier, with less pain and hassle. With the main daily activity to be focused on to be cooking and eating. Using an appropriate material; which is food safe, and can be cleaned easily. Also making sure the chosen material will allow the finished product to be aesthetically pleasing to the target market, as well as not to make the design to obvious as so the target market feels comfortable using the product when and wherever they might need to.

Now there’s a more accurate brief it is time to begin sketching out basic ideas, from the absurd to boring to brilliant, all possible avenues must be discovered then looked at to help further the design of the final product.

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