It use to be that nothing made us happier than duct tape, a pile of cardboard scraps and a pair of sharp scissors. We could make anything. Just this past week, I watched as my kids made a jetpack from a cardboard box, PVC pipe and an ample amount of broken toys and colored duct tape. Jude Pullen is a Product Designer at Dyson who still knows the possibilities a pile of discarded material holds. He’s following up on the passion with a new site that introduces Design Modeling with the tips, tools and techniques to make you the master of cardboard cuts, joints, folds and more.

Cardboard modeling

Jude is a Product Design Engineer who turns clay, has a passion for architecture and makes physical models of consumer products with cardboard. Yes, people still do that. He does the later so well in fact, that he wants to show you how to do it.

For Jude, cardboard modelling has been a means to and end, working with people from around the world, to create a physical model of an idea. He grew up in Cumbria, England where the seed for his interests was first planted. As some will be able to relate to the boredom that hits you as a child, you turn to making objects with items your parents probably didn’t want you tearing apart. Soon, you realize, cardboard is a safe (and usually plentiful) resource. This same interest led Jude to create more functional objects and eventually build prototypes in a professional environment.

I asked what he thought the advantage was of using cardboard modeling over digital modeling or even rapid prototyping (RP).

“I’d simply say I’m not wishing to create a ‘them & us’ over it, rather that it is best used at the early stages to get a ‘feel’ for the product and to open discussion with either your clients or your mind/thinking/etc. I also think you can get ‘CAD-eye’ as we call it at work, so making the model avoids any silly assembly issues or some laughable wall-thicknesses, etc. I’m sure we’ve all been there!”

Indeed we have. ‘CAD-eye’ is more contagious, more prevalent and less easy to spot than even pink-eye. It’s nice to know the cure is a healthy amount of cardboard and glue. Jude has many videos and how-to’s planned for the site, showing you exactly how he approaches each project and most importantly, completes each project. His first project goes through the simple process of constructing a cardboard case for a $25 Raspberry Pi computer. Below is an example of these fabulous videos from Jude, showing you the difference in blades and how to choose the best cutting tool for the job.

Physical or Digital?

I think we would all agree that slicing through foam to make a giant robot fist on a cool summer day is a great feeling… granted you’re not slicing through your hand as well. But, on the professional side, is a physical model superior to digital models and renderings when having a discussion with a client? While you may work with sketches, 3D renderings or physical prototypes, which is more appropriate to present to a client? Do you provide a clean rendering with tight gaps and pristine surfacing, only to risk the sight of physical flaws later with a hand-made or rapid prototyped version? I think there is space for both and glad to see Jude providing a resource for people to learn more.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.