A Flashlight

Introduction to 3D modeling

You want to design something, but where do you start?

Let's begin with the idea that you will design a customizable personalized toy, which happens to also be a storytelling flashlight.

The first question that you have to ask yourself is who is this toy for? Is it for you? An older friend? A younger sibling?

Once you've answered that question, you can start to describe the attributes and functionality of your toy:
  • The toy will use an LED to project an image on the wall.
  • The toy will have an on/off switch.
  • The toy will have an interchangeable plate so that it can project different images.
  • The toy will be designed in such a way that the battery can be replaced.

Next you have to figure out how the plate will be part of your design. This is where you start to brainstorm.

How does the plate attach to the tube? There are many ways this can happen. Here are a few ideas. You should also make drawings to illustrate these ideas. Drawings are invaluable because they convey information that may not be readily apparent with your verbal descriptions, and they can get an idea/conversation started.
  • It screws on.
  • Magnets hold the two parts together.
  • A hinge is incorporated so that the plate operates as flip cap.
  • There is a notch so that the plate can slide in and out.
  • The plate is held in by a cap that snaps on the cylinder.
All the ideas presented above are good, but some are more simple to execute (better) than others. Why are we coming up with several ideas?

Design is an iterative process. One idea is good, but the next idea may be better and the next idea after that can be even better because you are begining to explore and refine.

After you gather your ideas, select one. For this exercise, we're going to select the last.

Next step is to imagine how large your toy will be. You can start with the internal circuit and go from there. Start with a guestimation, then use digital calipers to assign a number to your measurements. For this toy, our diameter will be 30mm and the length of the tube will be 65mm.