Introduction: Concept Snowblower AV1110

Picture of Concept Snowblower AV1110

Finishing the Morphology course at my university is a BIG deal (I study industrial design). We finish with a 5 month proyect in which we design a concept. We call it the "space ship" project. We start by designing lines, then surfaces, then shapes. Then we convine our shape with our partner's (we team up into groups of two) following both shape's inner logic. We are designers so everything must have an explenation. Later we assign a function to the resulting shape. This is the thoughest part since all shapes at first look like space ships. Ours, after a long time thinking and designing, was going to be a snowblower. 

The exercise was about using our knowledge of the culture we live in to connect a designed shape with a function. It was basically the opposite of what we designers often do. So it is not an exercise as "form follows function" but the other way around, just because it was a Morphology course. Not the Design workshops we are use to. In Morphology we study shapes, lines and surfaces so that in the Design courses we can come up with just the right shapes for the solutions we suggest for each project. This is why this design will never fulfill the needs of a machine that moves snow as good as a real snowblower would. 

Our justification for a snowblower started with the big hole our shape has. Something important needed to happen in that hole. We didn't want to put the human figure inside of it since it was too obvious and we wanted to do something more interesting. We went from water, to bacteria to finally snow. The remaining parts of our machine were determined by the needs of the blower: a mean to transport the machine (caterpillars), a mean to eject the collected snow, somewhere the human figure will stand and command. 

The project not only consists on designing a concept machine, but also on building a model. Building models in Morphology is part of the learning since by getting your hands dirty  you understand the shape, how it was made and how you can make it. 

Building the model involved laser cutting wood, thermoforming plastics, shaping styrophoam, lots of glue, fiver glass and resin, lots of sanding and car paint. 

After days of designing and a whole month of building here are the results, enjoy! 

*the pictures include two adaptations, a small and a bigger one, of the thermoforming machine we saw on this video:

A HUGE thank you to Maca, my partner in this project and Jime, Dani and Aye! My loving friends who were also involved in the making.
___ //


ezagent (author)2011-03-03

Seems to be the way things are designed. Cars for example. How else can you explain the difficulties encountered in car maintenance?

Congratulations in choosing a course to prepare you for the real world.

piaferre (author)ezagent2011-03-03

The difficuties you find in car manteinance or any other object's life span lies on what the market pushes designers and engineers to do. Here's just one of the many videos about Planned Obsolescence there are: .
This was just an excersice that made us realize how much of our culture and society we know in terms of relating a shape or volume to a function or something that's being comunicated. We had to "read" what ever the shape was telling us (does it move fast, slow, in what direction, what size does it sujest, where does the human figure go, etc etc) and make it more obvious.
Morphology just prepares you to understand surfaces, lines and volumes so when you actually design a solution for something you have the tools to find the right shape and know how to build it, how to make it easier to produce, etc.

Dr. dB (author)piaferre2011-03-04

Great project, well-photographed and nicely presented! I have no doubt someone with the time and talent could make one from this ‘ible, entirely with equipment constructed from OTHER ‘ibles! (…if the performance was there, which you’ve already said, “It wasn’t exactly designed for it…” It was “reverse-designed” – it was “dengised”!)

Seriously, though, I did want to address what seemed a slight misconception, seemingly equating “…what the market pushes designers and engineers to do.” with “Planned Obsolescence”.
What passes for “Planned Obsolescence” these days would be more accurately termed “Deliberate Obsolescence”; two concepts – one applicable, one not-so-much – with some surface similarities, but which are, in reality, galaxies apart…

“Planned Obsolescence” is a valid, even necessary, industrial concept which calls for products to be designed to last as long as the designer(s) honestly guesstimate it will take their industry to make the next major ADVANCE in the technology, then the first generation gets RECYCLED into the making of the THIRD generation products, and so, on.
This reduces both excess crap in landfills AND the massive, pointless wasting of fresh raw materials.

The behavior the lady in the video describes in the films from the 1950s is a PERVERTED version – “Deliberate Obsolescence”, a form of CONSUMER FRAUD (one of the most despicable) – masquerading as the real deal, which calls for products to be designed to last as long as the designer(s) honestly guesstimate it will take the user to get the package open and install the batteries, if any. After that, all bets are off.
This reduces excess cash in consumers’ wallets, but at least it guarantees both excess crap for the landfills AND the massive, pointless wasting of fresh raw materials.

What’s not to love (if you’re a rapacious, totally-out-of-control industrialist)?

This is what Ms. Leonard called, “Designed For The Dump”, and the whole vile, pernicious, sick and sickening idea SHOULD have been met with mass arrests when it first reared its ugly, little head. Heck, even we have some of the criminals confessing their crimes on film! Slam-dunk case!

Unfortunately, we’ve been conned into “going along” with this nonsense for so long, it may be impossible to change….

In the electronics repair biz, when stuff would come in “under warranty”, our standard joke was that the “Warranty Expiration Sensor” (factory-settable in increments of 31, 61 and 91 days) must’ve been defective and gone off a little early. Either that, or the “Warranty Expiration Sensor”‘s OWN “Warranty Expiration Sensor” had…! …but THAT sort of thinking leads to a whole alternate universe full of self-looping, paradoxoidal spirals……which may make for an interesting (read: insanely-dangerous) Instructable, some day! (…remember the TV show, “Sliders”?)

1tri2god (author)Dr. dB2012-09-10

I laughed and then was a little worried that I could follow along with the whole line of reasoning!

Sneyk (author)2012-01-22

Wao, un modelo muy interesante, estudio Diseño Industrial en la Unal de Colombia, y seria bueno proponer un ejercicio como este donde primero se defina la forma y luego la funcion, aunque en las morfologias que nosotros vemos ninguno es funcional. Saludos.

Dellpatrol6 (author)2011-07-12

You know, with some work, I think this thing could even be practical.

TheShadwofChaos (author)2011-07-01

Looks like it belongs in Perfect Dark.

notingkool (author)2011-04-24

muy bueno el diseño, bastante agresivo. Yo estudio ing. aeronautica en la UNLP. y estoy buscando hace bastante como sacar las plantillas (o las cuadernas) a una superficie complicada como hiciste vos. Porque veo que el molde de termoformado lo hiciste de lo que parecen piezas de terciado pegadas y lijadas.
Yo queria hacer un fuselaje en 3d y despues virtualmente cortarlo para sacar una especie de cuadernas para armar una maqueta de ese.
Vos que programa usaste?

piaferre (author)notingkool2011-04-24

hola! Mira yo para modelar uso Rhinoceros. Es uno de los mas faciles de usar para modelar pero igual lleva su tiempo aprenderlo. Otros son Sketchup o Blender, esos son gratis y por lo que me contaron son tambien faciles, nunca los usé. Los más pro son Solidworks o Alias (este te lo podes bajar gratis de si te registras como estudiante, pero es bastante complicado aprenderlo). Cualquier cosa preguntame, hacemos modelados por encargo! ;)
Saludos y exitos!

Flying_MashedPotatoes (author)2011-03-12

if you made a version that was a lawnmower, you'd be mowing in style :D

You could say, he's be MOWING down the competition. *takes off sunglasses* YEAAAAAAAAHHHHH

e.bender (author)2011-04-14

escucha mi espanol, es malo. Yo diseno es mucho bueno y diferente. Cuidado a objecto de el sospecho personas veo y robar de estudios de diseno industrial todas el dias. cuidado mi amigo, cuidado. Una vez, con permiso con mi espanol

piaferre (author)e.bender2011-04-14

Thank you! Yes, we are aware of idea theft but what can we do? We need to be known somehow. However, we are confident they may copy us but will never be the same! Thanks for your interest,

Pia //

chicopluma (author)2011-03-18

yo tambien estudio diseño industrial, y en mi u esta a nivel de ingenieria.
gran trabajo, a primera vista crei que era alguien hablando de una herramienta que habia comprado

lzch (author)2011-03-11

y como ing a que te puedes dedicar es diferente a diseno

piaferre (author)lzch2011-03-11

estudio diseño industrial, no ingenieria. Diseñamos productos para ser producidos industrialmente, en la carrera estudiamos materiales, procesos, la composición de la forma y como comunicarla, practicamos mucho diseñar.

lzch (author)2011-03-11

oye y que tan dificil esta l a carrera y ala terminaste

piaferre (author)lzch2011-03-11

Lo dificil esta en poder organizarce y poder tener vida, sacarse buenas notas y dormir algo. Lo demás, es bastante dificil tambien pero la satisfacción que te da una vez terminado te hace olvidar todo lo anterior. Este año si todo va bien termino!

lzch (author)2011-03-10

hello hey were are you from and were did you study or are studing design ing

piaferre (author)lzch2011-03-10

I'm from argentina, I study at UBA.

lzch (author)piaferre2011-03-10

entonces hablas espanol

piaferre (author)lzch2011-03-11


kibukun (author)2011-03-08

Awesome! I hope to see it on the lawn soon.

gregolma (author)2011-03-07

I own one. This is insane.

hohum (author)2011-03-05

if you went backward with this idea, and used the snow throwing as a propulsive unit (1), might make a new kind of snow pulsed vehicle,

furthering the propulsiveness (2) of the idea, might also work as new kind of water craft


just thinking outside of 'blower unit' idea, nice lines in the morph, very organic

hope the best for you in your idea

J Henry G

ahallock-1 (author)2011-03-04

Time to get with the engineering department! Tell them the world would like the guts to work, and then everybody could benefit. That is a nifty looking critter. One of the major problems with snowblowers is that they ice up. Maybe this style would alleviate that problem? Only testing would find out. Please?

HandyMan1959 (author)2011-03-04

I looked at the pics before reading your explaination and had already realized that it was just a concept model. I agree that it wouldn't be very practical as a snow blower but it does have a very "alien" look to it. I commend you on your project and hope you get the highest marks possible on your exicution. Now if you could design a funtioning robotic snow blower out of that you would have a hit.

k-twizel (author)2011-02-24

do you have a video of this device 'in action'? Is this project a spin off of Roomba for Snow or remote control?

piaferre (author)k-twizel2011-02-24

:) this is only a model, the only part that works is the lifting mechanism. The blades and caterpillars don't move. Is nice to hear it appears functional, that means the model achieves its' purpose! thank youu

Madrigorne (author)piaferre2011-03-04

I was totally going to suggest pairing a roomba control mech and a Toro Snowblower guts with this model to make it get out there and clean up my GD driveway when its -40°F outside. Build it and I will buy it.

Phil11 (author)2011-03-03

Excellent model.
I think you did well to survive the brain fry on doing the reverse form to function exercise. (I remember being tested similarly on a design course where we were not told what we were to make but to produce a book of research on fruit, and then a week later told to "be God" and design and make a fruit.)
Your finished piece does look fantastic, even if the function over form people might not have been appeased this time, you'll do that in another exercise, very well I'm sure!

piaferre (author)Phil112011-03-03

Wow that looks difficult and fun. Thanks for your comment!

wsecomp (author)2011-03-03

Is it just me, or does it look like a cousin to the beast in Aliens? Great design!

In looking at the smaller version, an idea occurred...Transform it into an R/C model. That way you can clear the sidewalk without having to go out into the cold (until the batteries run down).

annagail (author)wsecomp2011-03-03

Very chestburster-esque!

rush2ady (author)2011-03-03

If snow blowers looked like this, men would NEVER complain about shoveling the driveway!!

zek7gon (author)rush2ady2011-03-03

Same here, I'd buy one of those.

studleylee (author)2011-03-03

Very Nice work!!!

mandrayk (author)2011-03-03

This is a beautiful form and it shows mastery of model-making. Those who criticize the function of this machine simply do not understand the value of imagination. In haste to berate, they miss the point of the exercise. If it is any consolation to you, they probably sleep without dreaming.

piaferre (author)mandrayk2011-03-03

hah na its ok, it took us a few months to understand the point of all of this ourselves!

SinistaInZim (author)2011-03-03

Very impressive project :) Hah, I'd have been wandering around it looking for a power button to try it out :D No offence, but I find it interesting and strange that the first three pictures remind me of a snail from an image of the underside of one crawling over a piece of glass :P

crowing (author)2011-03-03

While I understand that merely an experiment in design, perhaps you should refine this and then submit this to Dyson, the vacuum company

If you look at their outlandish looks and pricing, clearly you can see that there are some people who are very willing to pay for form before function! ;) ;)

piaferre (author)crowing2011-03-03


GitarGr8 (author)crowing2011-03-03

See also: Apple.

pocketspy (author)2011-03-03

Very interesting, but not practical as a snow blower. Looks like it would have been a better design for use in water or something else.. I always thought that form should follow function, and the function of a snowblower is to remove snow as close to the ground as possible. You have too much clearance for proper snow removal. Just studying again it looks more like a trimmer for high grass or small plants and trees. It does look like a great class to take, though. Good luck in the future.

piaferre (author)pocketspy2011-03-03

As I replied in a few comments below: "Exactly, this was a Morphology class. Not the Design workshops we are use to. In Morphology we study shapes, lines and surfaces so that in the Design courses we can come up with just the right shapes for the solutions we suggest for each project. Only after three years of this course one can be prepared to do exactly the opposite to what we have been doing from the start of our careers which is to find a "form" for each "function". It was hard to go against our designer nature." It took us 4 months to find a function to the shape and this was just the last project, in other projects we just had to design shapes to comunicate something or that would be understandable and have a structure criteria. I think I'm going to write this on the description jaj

nerys (author)piaferre2011-03-03

screw blowing snow that thing looks MEAN. DEATH RACE MEAN. I WANT ONE.

just make sure it can chew through muscle and bone :-) hehe

piaferre (author)nerys2011-03-03

hahah we ment it to be MEAN! haha we called it the "squirrel killer"

etnies40210 (author)2011-02-28

Looks sweet! Just thought I'd give you a head's up about a spelling mistake in the third paragraph, in which you miss-spelled project, "The proyect"

Good luck.

piaferre (author)etnies402102011-02-28

jeje it sometimes slips, in spanish you say "proyecto". Thanks!

TOCO (author)piaferre2011-02-28

I hate when our teacher tells us to do our Spanish homework in English. It doesn't make sense to me why we would do that. It seems like a simple idea but when everything else in the homework in Spanish you tend to write in Spanish. By the way, Does this thing actually run or is it just a model?

About This Instructable




Bio: Industrial Designer from UBA | Diseñadora Industrial UBA
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