Archive for the 'Sample-licious' Category

Sample-licious: Protomold’s Protogami

[Editor’s note: Sorry I’ve been so delinquent in my posts. I promise to do a better job of keeping the blog current. If you have any suggestions for future posts, please feel free to send them to me (warrenginn at gmail dot com). Thanks for your support!]

For those of you keeping score at home, you know that I’ve been a big fan of Protomold and their most-excellent part samples/teaching aids. Last year saw the introduction of the Protomold Torus featuring a plethora of common injection molded features crammed into a lovely plastic doughnut for you to display on your desks:

New for this year is the Protogami:

The Protogami demonstrate the interaction of materials of varying durometers and surface finishes. It is made up of 3-dimensional “flexagons,” creating a kaleidocycle that exposes a different set of faces with each turn. An informational guide, highlighting the materials, finishes and design features used, is included with the Protogami components and assembly instructions.

The base structure of 6 polypropylene parts that snap together serve as an excellent example of living hinges, clips, slots and pockets. The snap-in plaques represent 6 different materials (polycarbonate, ABS, HDPE, acetal, glass-filled nylon and TPE) featuring 4 different surface finishes as well as a fifth part that you can snap in half to experience how the material breaks. A very nice addition to their portfolio.

You can check out Protomold designer Kevin Crystal’s blog post on the Protogami.

[Get your own Protogami or Torus]

Sample-licious: Color Trends from Americhem

I got me a treat in the mail today: The 2010-2011 Color Trends Projections from masterbatch and color concentrate manufacturer Americhem. This collection 48 chips (molded from what feels like polyethylene) features 12 variations of what they feel will be “each month’s most popular color.” Because plastic part color depends so much on surface finish, the chips have a gloss on one side and matte finish on the other.

A friend of mine e-mailed me a few days back asking:

I am looking into purchasing a new Pantone set and I just want to cry.  There has to be a better system that is adopted by INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS than PMS or Munsell.  I don’t need to color match so much as color select. I often find myself looking through the new Ralph Lauren interior paints color book at Home Depot or a Sikkens color book of the latest automotive finishes.  And Sabic or Eastman have some great online tools, but where is the standard? I was in China late 2009 and the design firm/ manufacturer I met with had no fewer than 9 color systems mounted on their wall to reference.  I like the selection and color consistency of Akzo Nobel, but not everything is painted.  Do you have some insights?

Damn good question, Mike. Thanks.

I wish I had a magic answer for him, but I don’t. I know, $3300 for a bunch of styrene chips (from Pantone). Despite their being the standard in the printing industry, I have a hard time with matching a color chip for a plastic that has subsurface scattering and the quality of the color is so different. I know of folks who use automotive chips for the compounders to match, but that’s particularly difficult if it’s a metallic. There really should be a standard, but because colorant packages look and react differently in each resin, I can’t imagine anyone would be able to afford a complete set. Until then, it’s probably still paint chips and a colorimeter.

So I wandered around the Interwebs, looking at the big colorant suppliers like Clariant, Ferro, Spartech, PCC and others… and then I found this Color Trends available from Americhem. It’d be great if more colorant suppliers could find a cost-effective method of producing color samples. Maybe there are…

So, is there a standard? What have you guys found?What do you use? Let me know.

Sample-licious: Móz Metals


Móz Designs is a supplier of high-end architectural metals for architects and designers. While the majority of this might be more interesting to an interior designer, there’s a lot of beautiful stuff here that can inspire industrial designers in furniture, exhibit and POP fixture design. I really like their “How To Spec” videos which explain their process and terminology for their products… verify well done.

Samples can be ordered here.

Sample-licious: Dimension uPrint Salt Shaker

Dimension is now promoting their sub-$15K uPrint desktop “personal” 3D printer. It build parts out of its ABSplus material, which is apparently tougher than you average printed 3D part. I wouldn’t mind having one of these babies sitting next to me spitting out concept forms, but at $14,900, I’m going to have to wait a little longer…

You can get a free sample part (a little twisty salt shaker with integral threads) here.

Sample-licious: Quickparts


Lovin’ those samples… This time it’s from rapid part manufacturer Quickparts. Based in Atlanta, these guys are capable of supplying prototypes, low-volume production, tooling and full production.

Continue reading ‘Sample-licious: Quickparts’

Sample-licious: Protomold


Gotta love those samples – particularly those that can can be used as a 3-dimensional design guide. One of the best collections out there is the collection created by Protomold. The best-known sample is the purple Protomold Sample Cube (above). Carl Alviani mentioned it last year on Core77 as one of his new favorite things. Molded out of polypropylene, this part ships flat and snaps together. Described by one of Carl’s friend as “an ME degree in a box,” the Cube is a single molded piece that folds into cube shape, and features physical examples of over a dozen guidelines of good injection-molded part design including snap fits, pass-core features, live hinges, ribs, knit lines, textured surfaces, and several examples of how to design and not design a boss to minimize sink. The order form for this part can be found here.


The next sample to come out of Protomold was the Resin Puzzle, featuring 9 of the most popular materials offered out of the dozens available in stock. The puzzle come with a guide to the materials and the solution to assembling the puzzle (which is shipped disassembled) is available on their site (but don’t peek). To order, use this link.


Their latest offering is really fun and geeky: The Protomold Demo Mold is a simulated mold used to demonstrate specific mold and part features. This thing comes complete with the two mold halves, ejection system, the part with gate and runner system – even a side action slide. You can order it here. And when you do, check out the little video showing how it’s assembled…


Guys, I know this is so dorky… But this really IS a great teaching tool. I’m not sure how freely Protomold is letting these things go to anyone who asks for one, but I seriously hope that every industrial design instructor that teaches materials and processes out there gets one of these things to show their students. Actually, I’m hoping they get all three of them.

And, just to make the post complete, here a little promo video:

Sample-licious: Northern Engraving


Dude, there is nothing I love more than free samples of cool materials and processes… And Northern Engraving has all kinds of goodies to share with their adoring public. Take, for example, the Designer Disc Collection (above). This variety of printed and mechanical textures on aluminum will get your creative juices a-flowin’. The textures on the finishes are created through screen printing.  The colors are applied through traditional offset lithography, screen printing or roller coating. Tasty…


Next, we have the Metal and Plastic Nameplates and Labels (above) featuring aluminum, stainless steel, brass, polyester, polycarbonate, vinyl substrates and others… These will prove quite handy to whip out at client meetings…

They’re pretty cool about supplying samples if you have something specific in mind, so give them a call. You can find links to request free finish samples and concept drawings from their home page.