Disposable Crutches

Crutches, how many people can honestly say they have returned a pair back to the NHS? I for one know I’m guilty of this. However it was not until seeing the final year project of Alexander Williams did I realise the impact of not returning them. On average a pair of crutches will cost the NHS about £20, this might not sound like much, but with hundreds of hospitals nationwide replacing crutches, it can quickly add up. This would mean that over the course of a year the NHS is wasting valuable resources replacing them. Resources which could otherwise be used for much more important things.

The project looked into placing the traditional aluminium crutch with a cheap disposable plastic product targeted at a price of £5 a pair. This would act as a solution to the national crutch shortages and unnecessary spending.

Through extensive research and development Alexander has managed to identify many key structural elements and implement them into his redesign, ensuring the minimal plastic design has the strength needed to support the users weight. Through varying levels of prototyping he has also managed to identify key areas of weakness and strengthened them, ensuring his redesign has similar strength and durability to its predecessor.

Aside from the structural aspects of the crutch, he has also eliminated the need to return the crutches directly to the NHS. As they are made out of nylon, they are easily recycled back into the system. A two part snap fitted cuff allows for a hassle free assembly, which is quickly tailored to the user. Further ergonomic considerations have been made based on his in-depth user research, this included the angle of the handle for comfortable use during prolonged use.

Furthermore the visual structure of the crutch creates a very aesthetically pleasing product. Definitely a product where form follows function.


Lighting Project

During second year we were tasked with designing and prototyping a light. The first stage of the project was exploring different design techniques to aid us in coming up with a suitable concept. The second stage was design integration, this was where we did research into the different materials, components and manufacturing techniques we could use to create our idea. The final stage in the project was prototyping. This was where we had to either create a physical prototype or a virtual one of our product.

The idea for my product came when I was climbing in France. During one of our days climbing, we decided to stay late and do a bit of night time bouldering. We quickly found that even with the numerous head torches we had, it was very difficult to get the route lit with an even spread of light. This made climbing very difficult and rather frustrating. Research into the problem showed me solutions which people have used to climb at night. Most relied on bulky gas lanterns to light up the climb.

This lead me onto designing a solution which was both convenient, compact, eco friendly and most importantly gave an even spread of bright light.

My final concept was a modular light, consisting of a main battery pack which the lights sat in. This could be used as a flood light as well. Each of the six lights could also be removed from the pack and placed in the climbers desired location. Thus creating an array of lights which gave an even spread of bright light and helps eliminate shadows.

As with any product there will always be room for improvement. For this concept I would have like to have included a diffuse cover over all the lights. To create a softer flood light effect. More exploration into the shape of the product could have been done as well.

Overall I’m very happy with the final concept, and is something I would actually quite like to see produced. Not just because it’s a concept which I designed, but it’s a concept which will give me more time climbing!