FabLab Plymouth and the Agency join forces to create South West Digital Awards

Plymouth College of Art’s in-house design studio The Agency were approached by Helm Squared to design and manufacture awards for the very first South West Digital Awards. FabLab Plymouth manufactured the final design created by Kevin Jenkins, BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation programme leader.
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A chance to highlight, reward and encourage digital innovation in the region, the inaugural South West Digital Awards took place on 27 September 2018 at Plymouth School of Creative Arts, with 200 guests in attendance. Helm Squared briefed The Agency to create stylish awards to give to the winners of each category, ranging from App of the Year to New Startup of the Year.

The first stage of creating the awards began with a pencil sketch from the client, that included an outline of the required dimensions. Kamal Gohil, Account Manager at The Agency, enlisted the college’s expert team at Fab Lab Plymouth and Kevin Jenkins, BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation programme leader, was called in to transform the sketch into a CAD design.

He explained, “I modelled the object in Solid Edge, interpreting the client’s ideas to make sure that we could create an outcome that met their initial expectations. The CAD design was then sent to the client to be approved, and once signed off, was passed on to the team in Fab Lab Plymouth.”

Ben Mundy, Fab Lab Plymouth Manager, was in charge of the manufacture of the awards. He told us, “The awards themselves are made from walnut, so the majority of the work was in cutting and shaping the wood, but we also used two different types of 3D printer to make additional parts for the awards.”

He continued, “Our Fab Lab includes high-tech 2D and 3D digital equipment that can be found in the best labs across the world. Each award has an internal LED so that they can be lit up. The original design used more than one LED to get the effect that the client wanted, but we were able to refine the design so that only one was needed. We then used an Ultimaker FDM printer to 3D print the internal workings for each award.

We also used our Form 2 printer to create the inlaid logo on the top of each award, and used our laser cutter for shaping the acrylic sections, and engraving text onto the side of each piece.”


Unlock your Hidden Talent with free creative workshops at Fab Lab Plymouth

Hidden Talent in Devon is an exciting new project that enables people from a range of backgrounds to access creative workshops and learn new skills.
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Running until December 2019, Hidden Talent in Devon aims to give a broader range of people the opportunity to take part in workshops and short courses that they might not otherwise have access to. Fully funded by the European Social Fund, Hidden Talent in Devon workshops are being offered to participants for free.

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Alongside Plymouth College of Art's Introduction to Digital Photography course, Fab Lab Plymouth are offering an exciting introduction to Fusion 360 software with their "Design and Make (Almost) Anything" course.

Aimed at giving people an overview of digital design and manufacturing, the course takes place in our fully equipped digital fabrication laboratory. 

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Starting on Monday 16 April, this is an eight week programme that will offer participants the chance to get to grips with Fusion 360 software, a complete 2D and 3D design and manufacturing package, before developing a personal project.

Book your free place now - and if you miss out on a place, don't worry - keep an eye out for news of more Hidden Talent courses coming in June 2018.


Making the Abercrombie Awards

Every three years Plymouth City Council hosts the awards to celebrate the role of architects, designers and building companies in shaping the city. The awards, which were named after the architect responsible for the plan to rebuild Plymouth after the Blitz, takes a look at a huge range of work from small conversions and projects to transform open spaces to multi-million pound housing or business projects.

'Thank you again for being so easy to work with through this process, you made it really easy from start to finish (although I'm sure it wasn't for you!!) and the end product was such excellent quality. Everyone was exceptionally pleased, it's something that stands out rather than being just another piece of glass to stand in a display, people will really want to display them.'

Cherokee Mahoney, Plymouth City Council 

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Cherokee Mahoney, Plymouth City Council

The awards were designed by Jason Marks of Fab Lab Plymouth ( They were made by Fab Lab Plymouth and the glass artist Amy Whittingham (glass artist and technician at Plymouth College of Art). 

Features of distinction from each selected building or space were used as starting points to develop a series of bespoke awards. After initial concept sketching on paper the designs were drawn up in Rhino 3D (a computer aided design program). These designs were then 3D printed at the Fab Lab. Amy Whittingham was subsequently able to take these prints, make plaster moulds from them and cast the printed forms into glass. The glass forms were then finished, sand blasted and polished. The text was drawn up in Adobe Illustrator and from this stencils were cut from vinyl. The text was then etched onto the glass awards and, finally, the glass was mounted onto a hardwood base.

The awards are a combination of traditional craft practice and the the latest digital design and fabrication methods and techniques. Given the short lead time between the selection of the Abercrombe Awards winners and the presentation ceremony this was a challenging commission, but we are delighted with the results and we look forward to working with the Council again.

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