Ergonomics and salt dough

Ergonomics is the ‘study of people and their relationship with the environment around them’. Anthropometric data, which is the study of the human body and movement, is applied to a design to inform the shape and size of an object that will be used by someone, such as my tooth-repair tool handle, in order to make it comfortable to use and the correct size.

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Anthropometric data for my hand

Ideally, the ergonomic data for a hand would collected from a number of, either adults or children, depending on what age group the object is being designed for, and then the average measurement calculated, such as that demonstrated by the chart which can be seen by visiting technology student. However, for my design I have recorded my own hand measurements, as shown by the photograph. This will be used to inform the size of my design.

After completing my initial sketches, I wanted to try and ‘justify’ the design of the tooth-repair tool handle. I had drawn what I imagined an ergonomic handle might look like, but was it really ergonomic or just a ‘nice’ shape? In order to better inform my design, I started to think about what I could use to record the shape of my hand holding the tool. I rejected plasticine because it would remain pliable. Air-drying clay would work, but both plasticine and air-drying clay cost money, and I wanted to find an inexpensive and safe solution that could be used in a classroom setting.

Salt dough provided the answer, and with just three kitchen ingredients: salt, flour and water, it was safe, quick and cheap to make. Here’s the recipe which can be air-dried or oven-baked. I mixed it up and made a couple of rough examples of my hand print in the shape of a tool handle, as shown by the photographs below, before leaving  them in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade for about 30 minutes before switching the oven off and leaving them in the oven while it cooled. The completed handles stayed in shape, albeit a few cracks: nothing that a bit of wood filler wouldn’t sort out.

Other considerations about the design of the handle, would include how the tool would be held and how any controls on the handle would affect how the tool needed to be held. (notes read this http://ergonomics.uq.edu.au/eaol/handle.pdf)

 

 

 

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