April 14, 2010
Rapid prototypes: printing curvy zippers in 3D
As we have moved through the Jellypods design process, we have learned lots of new industrial process terminology and discovered some very cool technologies.
One of the coolest so far is 3D printing. If you don’t know what that is, watch this Objet 3D printer in action. These printers literally print, layer-by-layer, life-sized objects from CAD inputs, in a wide range of hard, soft, coloured materials. They are so good that some parts are being used directly on Formula 1 cars.
Each phase of the Jellypods product development is being tested using the same techniques and process. We print the key mechanical components to check how they work, or sometimes the entire Jellypod. One of the early designs we have been featuring on the blog to date includes a separate zipper slider, and we needed to produce the components in two distinct materials – soft, silicone-like Objet Tango and hard ABS – to see if it would work in practice. You can see these components in the shots below:-
It is quite hard to describe the delight we felt in opening up the package and taking out real, live working Jellypods parts and playing with them in our hands. It is really quite staggering what is available to small ventures like ours nowadays that help us make things the best they can be without needing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars; this series of zippers and sliders cost about $500 to produce.
It’s really amazing how much you learn about the strengths and weaknesses of a design by actually making something real and handling it – it always leads to refinements and improvements that will hopefully make Jellypods a great little product from the very first unit. Later on we’ll show you much more rapid prototyping we carried out using 3D printing, even of a complete full-sized Jellypod.