USB Pen Drive

NMCA Online Course

The NMC Academy is proud to offer online courses for training in educational technology areas. Designed for busy learning professionals, these courses take between 1-12 hours to complete. Plus, earn badges to show for the new skills you will learn. Account Required

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Think like a designer and get creative with design in class.

We all know what it is – but who knows what it stands for? Turns out, the acronym USB stands for: Universal Serial Bus. In this project, you design and build a USB drive that combines your personal style with functionality. Learn how to use flexible computer-aided manufacturing systems like Autodesk Inventor, to produce customized products. Make a customized USB Pen to hold project files or as give aways. It’s easy and fun way to get introduce to 3D modeling and 3D printing.


The project concentrates on the design and manufacture of a USB flash pen drive using a range of sketching and software, alongside laser cutting and 3D printing processes. Students identify and define the customer’s needs and brainstorm design ideas using the Design Thinking process. Design concepts are developed into prototypes and refined based on peer review. The final outcome is a 3D print custom USB Pen drive.

Inspire others and share your USB pen drive design on the Autodesk Digital Steam Workshop.

Project Brief: USB Pen

It’s all about the tools and the process!
“Design thinking” linked to the development of a customized USB pen starts by formulating and answering some key questions:

• Where will the drive be used?
• What type of activities will people be engaged in while using the USB pen?
• How much time in a day would a person be using the USB pen?
• Where will the pen be stored when not in use?
• How bright will the light from the lamp need to be?
• Hoe much memory will be required for the drive
• What are the potential problems related to damage to the USB pen?
• What materials should be used to make the USB pen housing?
• What is your budget for the entire project?
• What is your schedule for completion?
• What inspires you most about this project?

For the USB Pen project the first task is to develop basic skills in using Autodesk® Inventor® software to develop concepts as part of the Design Thinking ideation stage. After completing the sample USB Pen housings, students are encouraged to develop their own designs and apply their knowledge of the software to generate multiple concepts for alternative designs. The bottom line is this: If students can expand and enhance their ability to combine the innovation capabilities of the software and the power of the design thinking process, then the goals of this curriculum have been achieved.

Design considerations used in the example project are as follows:

• Purpose: To design a housing for a USB pen
• Target audience: Multiple
• Size limitations: size determined by ease of storage and transport
• Materials to be used: plastic
• Scheduling requirements: 6 to 10 hours to complete the sample project

This project demonstrates the following concepts:

• User-centered research helps engineers and designers establish a solid foundation for the development of effective design solutions.

• Developing a profile of the intended user(s) of a product or service is essential to establishing the needed criteria to guide successful development.

• The proliferation of consumer products, particularly in the tech and fashion sectors, creates opportunities for new product entries in the area of accessories that offer consumer personalization, increased product longevity, and enhanced performance.

•New automated design and manufacturing technologies allow for the low-volume production of products that meet specific criteria for individual users. This emerging trend is referred to as mass customization.

• Engineers and designers use a variety of tools and techniques ranging from freehand pencil sketches to sophisticated digital modeling to explore ideas and communicate concepts and technical directions to others.

• Parametric modeling software, such as Autodesk® Inventor®, has dramatically streamlined the process of product development from the identification of user needs to the production and distribution of finished goods.

• The design thinking process is a work-flow path that promotes the development of a design.

• Low cost rapid prototyping technologies such as laser cutting and 3D printing have streamlined the product development process.

After completing this lesson, you will be able to demonstrate growth in the following areas:

• Use the design thinking process to successfully create a physical prototype.

• Explain how 2D sketches and digital models can be used as visualization tools for design ideation.
• Profile the end user of a product to create a persona of the end user to aid in design of a new product alternative.
• Explain the basic principles of user-centered research.
• Explain the significance of 2D and 3D visualization for the development of designs form concepts to fished production prototypes.
• Explain how writing, data acquisition and data analysis competencies are employed in the development of a product.
• Explain the role that material science plays in achieving the functional and aesthetic goals for a consumer product development project such as a USB Pen.
• Explain the role of environmental sustainability practices in a product development project.
• Explain the essential aspects of mass customization practices.