Customizable Desktop Battlestation

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This week, I revisited my old friends the UD-3900 and UD-3000 docking stations. Previously, I designed a VESA mount system to hold the docking station in place behind a monitor. This time around, I wanted to create something that would make our docking stations a focal point of the desk—foregoing overt minimalism in favor of a funky, angular asymmetry that grabs attention to the device.

I also wanted to increase the utility of the docking station so that it was more than a passive desktop sentinel. To do this, I made a series of accessories to click into the brackets. These expanded the usefulness of the dock and encourage people to interact with it in new ways throughout the day.

Here is the link to the final product on thingiverse.com. I was inspired by space station design where modules get added to the core structure over time as needed.

From my previous project, I got interested in modularity as a method to create interesting and customizable workstations. I wanted to further explore this direction. By breaking the design into many smaller components, the design process for each piece is more simple than trying to cram all the same functionality into one piece. For example, the bracket pieces do not need to wrap the docking station on all four sides because the top piece can be positioned to hold the brackets together.

So far there are four add-ons available. If you have any suggestions for a new one, please let me know in the comments!

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I created an add-on that securely holds three USB devices that was based off my previous design for a USB cap. USB plugs and adapters are notoriously easy to lose, so this design keeps them safe and accessible.

While we live in a digital age, paper and pencil remain essential tools in daily life. The pencil holder accessory keeps writing utensils handy. As an added bonus, the tubular form also lends itself to the space station aesthetic.

The phone stand is designed to hold a smartphone and has a underside grip for holding the charging cable. I’ve been using it every day this week and have noticed that I am less distracted by my phone when it is in its new desktop home.

The final accessory is a simple tray attachment. It is surprisingly versatile and works great for holding paper clips, keys, or spare change. I wanted to create an add-on that did not have an explicit function so that people could feel free to use it however they needed.

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Customization and modularity are great, not just because they allow adaptive workspaces, but because it is important for people to have control over their things and personal space. Similar to how people carefully arrange things like family photos and action figures in their workspace, and tape up cartoons, the bracket design gives users an opportunity to embody their personality within their environment.

This post is part of an ongoing series about using 3D printing to enhance Plugable’s products. This summer, Design Intern Justin Taylor is creating and testing CAD models of mounts and bracket systems for our various products. Here is the link to the growing archive of posts on this project.

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