Domestic Fan


This university project investigated new economies and ecologies of design and how they could be applied to a domestic fan or fan heater. The five core concepts we researched were repair, regenerative mindsets, jugaad innovation, open source and circular economy.

Research & Idea

After exploring many different pathways within ideation, I decided that I wanted to reuse old computer case fans within my design as desktop computers configured as a whole become obsolete after a few years due to new technologies and higher demands from software. However, the individual components within a computer (such as fans) can still be valuable in other applications.

The Design

My domestic fan concept houses old computer case fans in a personalised 3D printed case. It reuses the fans original function in a different format to their initial intention. The design of the casing is minimal and simple because it was important for the design to be scalable to apply to a bigger market of different fan sizes.

Manufacturing Process

I decided that 3D printing was the most suitable method to manufacture the housing units for the domestic fan because intricate case mesh patterns can be achieved. The six casing variants I have designed require no supports so when the housing is produce using this manufacturing technique there is barely any material waste produced.


The casing is manufactured from Polylatic Acid (PLA) which is a polymer made up of small latic acid units. The most popular source for glucose in this industry is corn, making this material environmentally friendly to some extent as its derived from nature. PLA has also been proven to be able to biodegradable back into the ecosystem if subjected to the right conditions.


My domestic fan design offers 864 different personalisation solutions. Here's how its broken down: 6 case backing colours x 6 case body colours x 6 fan mesh patterns x 4 fan sizes. Personalisation is one of the key excitement attributes to encourage the user to place an order. Selling the casing parts separately online also lets the user adapt the colours and patterns of the external fan casing to suit different environments and trends without replacing the whole product.

System Diagram

A diagram to show how the users old computer case fans can be upcycled into a new domestic fan with a hint of personalisation and attention to new ecologies.

Features & Function

Depending on the orientation of the way the case fans are mounted they can either be used as an intake or exhaust. The computer case fans in my design draw air in through the back ventilation and push the air through the front of the gaps in the personalised mesh. The design uses a USB cable to power the fans, so it doesn’t require an internal power supply and it only use 5 volts.

Snap-Fit Casing

The snap fit casing I developed in Fusion 360 is a two-piece design that doesn't require any fixings or glues to hold the product together. The casing can easily be taken apart to replace components and or to personalise the product further by switching parts if the user has ordered additional colours/patterns.

Website Interface

This mock-up shows how the consumer can place an order with their old case fan size and desired personalisation options including; front cash mesh pattern, front case colour and back plate colour.

Final Prototypes

I made many physical 3D printed models to show the different personalisation options available, various fan size case models and how the snap fit casing operates. I produced one functioning prototype as close to as if it was manufactured in industry.