Published December 6, 2011
Aluminum , Assembly , Injection Molding
I’ve been waiting for this thing since April… Since backing them on Kickstarter to make the Cosmonaut, a wide-grip stylus for touchscreens (like my iPad), Studio Neat has teased its supporters with updates on the product’s progress as it made its way towards production. Like many start-ups, I think the boys were a bit too optimistic on their schedule (these widgets were originally due out in June). But my hat’s off to them for sharing their leaning process and evolution of how the product’s made. Check out their posts on Kickstarter to see the progression. Looks like we’re in the home stretch.
After a good deal of research and trial ‘n error, they ended up building this chunky guy with a machined aluminum core that’s overmolded with a conductive rubber. The tip is a separately-molded cap that is snapped onto the end (I wonder why it can’t be replaced when worn out or damaged?). The other end gets either an aluminum or wood plug (I guess because they can and because it covers up where the mold held the core during overmolding).
In a video “hosted” by Mr. Rogers entitled “How Crayons Are Made,” the guys share some nice video of the production process. It shows how the aluminum core is machined, then overmolded and assembled. You’ll see them hand die-cutting the cardboard packing and final assembly… Check it out before it gets taken down ’cause I seriously doubt Tom and Dan got permission to use that footage… Then again, having raised over $134K on Kickstarter and the success of the Glif, maybe they were able afford it.
It’s a wonder day in the neighborhood…
Another submission from Bruce Buck at SolidSmack brings us up close and personal with Logitech’s Trackman Wheel. Check out the stop-motion video of his dissection.
SolidSmack contributor Bruce Buck gets bored. And when Bruce gets bored, he takes stuff apart (don’t we all?). There is sooooo much you can learn about product design and engineering by taking apart well-design (as well as not-so-well-designed) products to see what makes them tick. Let’s hear about Gut Check from Bruce himself:
Gut Check is a tribute to all the design, engineering, and manufacturing peeps out there using 3D/2D/Whatever-D day in and day out, to create and bring to life the products that we all use and enjoy every day. You’re the ones who are down in the trenches, making it happen. It’s also a look at the complexity and beauty of seemingly simple products. One look under the hood will reveal that almost anything is a “large assembly” and requires an enormous amount of time and effort to make everything come together in something that embodies the epitome of form, fit, and function.
I, for one, am a fan. Keep it up, Bruce and I’ll post some as well ’cause I LOVES to take stuff apart.
By the way, with regards to his “unexpected” finding of a weight plate, I too have found some interesting and curious additions of weight to products.
I loves me some product tear downs… One and Co designer Donn Koh shares the beauty (inside and out) of the HTC Evo 4G. Great products are those that look great far away and close-up (as well as when you tear it apart). This is the kind of stuff I’d like to see in museums–the blending of art, design and technology.
[via SolidSmack and Behance]
Published August 21, 2010
Injection Molding , Processes
I ran across this in a discussion board in the SPE (Society of the Plastics Industry) LinkedIn group… The discussion was about how to make plastics look like metal. I’ll post about that later, but in this discussion, somebody mentions RocTool technology as a way to produce a very high luster surface with a wide variety of filled and unfilled materials, and eliminate painting. So I took a look myself and thought this was rather interesting…
According to an article back in 2006 from Plastics Technology, this technique has been around for a while. By heating the mold, you can control how the melted plastic flows and cools through the cavity, reducing or eliminating weld and flow lines and resulting in a high-quality surface. Of course, this would be using a highly polish (e.g., chrome-plated) cavity. This process was originallydeveloped for long-glass thermoplastic composites to produce large parts with automotive Class A surfaces.
But heating and cooling a 3-ton piece of steel over and over isn’t really the most efficient way to roll, so it hasn’t really been used all that much. However, RocTool’s patented approach heats and cools only the mold surface for much faster cycles than are possible with conventionally heated molds. Turning on electric power to the inductors for only a few minutes heats just a 0.2-mm-deep section of the tool surface while 99.9% of the mold stays cold. RocTool offers the technology for both plastic injection molding as well as composite processing.
You can read more in the Plastics Technology article about how RocTool uses special software to simulate the electromagnetic flows around the mold halves to optimize the mold design and processing. The RocTool site has a bunch of interesting videos that demonstrate the process.
Have any of you out there used this process? I’d be curious to hear your experience with it.
[Plastics Technology article]
Published September 16, 2009
The ‘YellowClip’ Clothesline Clip designed by Paul Sandip is just one of those designs that brings up such questions regarding how it’s molded. It has lovely clean, curvy lines, but it looks like a tooling nightmare. So how do you suspect this simple design is molded?
So apparently there’s been a lot of conversation about the #yellowclip going on in Twitter-land. It started out as discussion about the design, the price and the fact that it’s currently only a prototype, but the interest quickly turned to the tooling of this single-piece gem. The Clip is being sold for $20.00 ( currently on pre-sale for $4.00) at Moq7. Yes, $20 for a single clip. As mentioned above, it’s a prototype which will be manufactured if 10,000 are pre-ordered. Currently, only 15 have been sold (yes, I ordered 2 for myself ’cause I’m just that much of a manufacturing dork).
All they’ve been able to get out of Paul is:
Regarding my thoughts on how it will be manufactured…i would not like to disclose much details as it is lisenced to a manufacturer and we have signed a Non-disclosure agreement. The only clue is…it is definitely a two part mold.
Follow along at SolidSmack and the SolidWorks Forum.
Published July 20, 2009
Tags: mold design
So if you’re really into the nut and bolts of injection molding, here’s an informative blog: Injection Mold Design Tutorial, Technology and Engineering. It’s primarily aimed at enginees and mold designers, but it have some really nice illustrations and could be helpful to industrial designers as they think about different ways to form features in an injection mold.
Of particular interest is the post on Mold Classification which describes the basic types of molds (example shown above), showing their construction and how they work. You might even be into the nitty gritty of a 3-plate mold.
While you probably wouldn’t have to design any of this stuff yourself, having a basic understanding of how these mold works will make you more comfortable and confident in those engineering review meetings with the engineers and molders. I little bit of basic technical knowledge and understanding can go a long way towards building confidence and trust between team members.