TBI Innovations: Let There Be Light – A Low Cost DIY Torch

Why let load-shedding bring you down? Innovator Vikram Dinubhai Panchal’s simple and cost-effective answer to the problem is for anyone to try out!

In a doubt-infested global economy where prices are skyrocketing and the future seems bleak, the supply and demand theory makes very little sense. Being self-sufficient is the smart thing to do. Innovator Vikram Dinubhai Panchal promulgates this theory with an added edge – that of cost-effectiveness. ‘Why not use a few easily available, low-cost materials to make something yourself?’- is the core idea behind his creation: a Do-It-Yourself Torch.

Professor Vikram Dinubhai Panchal

Professor Vikram Dinubhai Panchal has designed a Do-It-Yourself Light Torch that can be assembled with low-cost and easily available materials. (Photo Courtesy: Core 77 Design Awards)

An industrial designer and lecturer by profession, Panchal chose one of the most common household items as his experiment- a light-bulb torch. Created in 1898 by Joshua Lionel Cowen, the original owner of the American Eveready Battery company, the world’s first flashlight soon turned into a household necessity. In the last hundred years, advances in technology have resulted in torches with a variety of new and innovative styles and features, including operations such as working underwater or in high-temperature conditions. But more features also translate into higher prices.

Innovation must never rely on cost, believes Panchal. Hence the approach to designing the DIY torch, which he aptly calls the Personal Light Source Torch, was an austere, minimalistic one. Can a person from any strata of society make this DIY torch, we ask him. “Of course! Being an academician, I always think of problems and projects, both simple and technically complex products, for myself and for my students. This automatically led me to imagine the scope of a new design, where there is no client or a sponsor. Hence, the desire to create using basic ingredients.”

The DIY torch is made up of simple components like a bulb of 2.6 watts, power cells of 1.5 watts, a connecting wire and the body. As for the body, it is made of plastic poly propylene, which can be obtained by reusing common office files, thereby reducing the overall cost. And to put it all together, you can make do with a paper cutter or in case of mass production, a laser cutter. An added advantage of poly propylene is its sustainability as a material. It is durable, washable and does not get damaged easily.

The DIY torch is made up of simple components like a bulb of 2.6 watts, power cells of 1.5 watts, a connecting wire and the body of plastic poly propylene

The DIY torch is made up of simple components like a bulb of 2.6 watts, power cells of 1.5 watts, a connecting wire and the body of plastic poly propylene

“The DIY torch, if mass-produced, will have an instructional manual with illustrations and guidelines enabling anyone to make it easily,” Panchal is quick to add. And the cost? “A normal torch in India costs approximately Rs. 30. This DIY flashlight, if mass produced, will cost approximately Rs. 15.

For now, Panchal’s design is sure to give ample pleasure to someone who is smart about gathering and re-using the few above-mentioned ingredients to create a torch, which can be a handy emergency light, an excellent travel companion, or could even be used in medical emergencies or varied army usages. The designer adds,

You don’t need any formal education or training to create this torch; this encourages many, from students to craftsmen, to make it themselves. While students may explore it from the learning point of view, craftsmen or even a lay person may try it as a self-employment option.

There is also a fun aspect to it. “’Do it yourself’ saves time and allows you to make modifications in the product because, in essence, one becomes the designer and the user of their own product. Imagine, wouldn’t making a cigar and then smoking it be the ultimate joy for passionate cigar smokers?” quips Panchal.

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