For the final product, I was able to create a prototype for the particular inflatable ladle I wanted to create, but not the envisioned model. But that’s okay, because we are all learning.
I wanted to create an inflatable ladle to find a practical solution to a small, but annoying problem of 3-dimensional shaped ladles that would awkwardly fit in camping backpacks. I go camping in California often and this is a reoccurring problem. I wanted to create an inflatable ladle that goes from an easily packageable 2-dimensional object to 3D, and then back to 2D when not in use.
My original idea’s main problem (also input from the other students) was the heat factor in building my ladle. Most materials used for inflatables, such as PVC, are not durable under heat and in fact, become poisonous for consumption when heat is applied. I researched and found that certain inflatable jacuzzies were able to withstand heat, but it is not enough to withstand boiling temperatures, which would be relevant. Soups and stews made on camping trips are piping hot.
Though I wanted to create a silicone model inflatable, because silicone is able to resist heat, major problems arose. There was not enough time and expertise to create a silicone model for ladle purpose scooping and inflatable components. I abandoned that idea and simply used a plastic sheet to create a prototype.
For my first attempt, I cut out two large cup size circles and heat glued them together at the edges with the iron. The problem is that inflatables do not behave or inflate the way you want to when they are too small. I cut out larger circles and heat glued together at the edges again. The next problem was to find out how to make particular glued lines on the circle to have it inflate in a ladle shape. The following was not successful at all:
My third attempt was successful. Here are the needed materials.
- Plastic Sheets
- Heat Iron
- Camouflage paper
- Baking Paper
I cut out a hollow middle circle on the top circular sheet. I then attached, with the heating iron, an additional cylinder-shaped portion that connects the top circle with the middle of the bottom circle. This was the most time consuming and difficult part. When inflated, the plastic sheets would finally create a ladle shape and have some area to scoop liquids in. A small tube rope was inserted and I wrapped a long piece of cardboard paper to create a long handle. So, one could blow through the small hole at the bottom of the handle to inflate the ladle. I then wrapped the cardboard paper with camouflage paper in spirit of the camping/outside atmosphere.
The most challenging aspect of this project was definitely the heat-sealing. The heat iron, because of its large and curvy iron shape, does not accurately heat seal the desired area. So, it would heat too far or too close, or simply burn through the cut-out plastic. I started over several times because of the heat sealing. To attach the supplementary parts in the middle hole area of the ladle was very frustrating. The baking paper always had to be over and under the plastic. If I had to do this project again, because it is a prototype, I would simply use tape to seal the edges.
I would also cut the plastic sheets further to create a bigger bowl shape in the middle of the ladle. In terms of aesthetics and the final product, I am proud of the outcome. The ladle inflates the way I want it to and is able to scoop up materials or liquid. The overall goal of the project was achieved: an object that goes from 2D to 3D and back to 2D.
Thank you Professor Mikesell for the semester and showing me the cool concept of inflatables, applicable in many areas of life.