August 2, 2011

Jellypods Zipper Mk III

Posted in Design, Factory, Frequent Flyer, Materials, Modelling, Production, Prototyping at 8:33 pm by Kilo

Now that we have identified the strength and weaknesses (literally) of the revised zipper design, it’s time to move forward with what will hopefully be the final design, barring a few small amendments for fit and finish.

The new design seems to be much simpler, and more elegant, and also hopefully includes a couple of rather neat little innovations we’ve never seen anywhere else before on a ziplock bag or similar.

We’ve also taken this opportunity to adjust some things on the bagitself, such as the thickness of the skin and the length of the internal ribs.

Right now the design is back with our friends in Wisconsin, Veritas Forge, for a quick makeover from hand drawn rough technical sketches to full 3D CAD velvet.

More soon!

 

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July 3, 2011

Jellypods Zipper Mk II/III under way

Posted in CAD/CAM, Design, Materials, Modelling, Prototyping, Uncategorized at 4:52 pm by Kilo

It has been a pretty quiet few weeks on the Jellypods blog, but behind the scenes there is lots of work going on to fix the zipper issues we discovered in the first prototypes revealed in the last few blog posts from the China trip.

Below you can see a shot of the first zipper molded in hard silicone, which was very bulky, unwieldy and despite looking good in CAD, did not work at all.

So after a few days of hard thinking, we went back  to an original concept from a few months back and our friends in China molded a protoype of that old deisgn to see if some new ideas and materials would work in practise.

The Mark II zipper has been moulded in a special mix of hard plastics and other special materials, and bonded to a rough of the top of a Jellypods body. This zipper was never really expected to work fully functionally, it was what Formula One teams call a “mule” – a development half-breed between a racehorse and a donkey:

Although never expected to be brought to life in final form, this mule gives us is enough solid information to move forward with the Mk III zipper, which will hopefully be a big step forward and close-to-final.

And the sketches for that design, which were worked up in a notebook  on an airplane flying between Sydney and San Francisco, are already sent to our partners for working up in to CAD and moving forward to the next steps.

Check out the next blog for more details!

April 21, 2010

Jellypods in four gorgeous colours

Posted in Blue Ocean, Design, Modelling tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:26 am by Kilo

One of the key things we wanted to offer in the Jellypod was the chance to have transparency with colour. It’s one of those characteristics that will make Jellypods look completely different to other options.

And to that end we have a range of four colours in the initial limited Launch Edition Jellypods lineup. Here are a couple of them:

Sea Smoke Grey

This is the first time we’ve shown a nearly complete Jellypod – this is still not the final version – in delicious, full colour, full shaded 3D. And now maybe you can start to see why we think these little podlets are going to be the hot “must-have” travel accessory in the coming months.

Atlantic Ocean Green

Unlike the basic ziplock or other alternative bags, the coloration is actually part of the basic fabric of the Jellypod, while still allowing us to maintain full transparency to ensure compliance with airline rules. You can see how the subtle tint manages to allow both characteristics to work together at the same time. This is just one of the special characteristics we are adding into the mix of the special material used to make Jellypods.

And in case you are wondering, the other colours are Ribbon Reef Red and Arctic Ice Blue. We’ll drop some shots of those wonderful colours into the blog soon!

April 20, 2010

The first full scale Jellypod prototype!

Posted in 3D printing, CAD/CAM, Design, Modelling, Prototyping tagged , , , , , , at 6:57 am by Kilo

As part of the design process we have been regularly “printing” 3D models of the first Jellypods products, to check that they look right and work as designed in practice. And here, finally, is the world’s first full scale prototype of a working Jellypod:-

What a cool toy these 3D systems are – a few days and a few hundred dollars ($650 in this case) and you get a full scale, fully functional model of the product in your hands, in a material (Objet Tango Grey) that has soft and pliable characteristics similar to the final mix we will use (but obviously nowhere near as transparent, tough or stretchy). Before you do this the first time you question the value, but it is an immensely useful step.

We are using these prototypes to check that the product will actually behave as expected in the hand, and also to spot weaknesses before we go to production. A good example is shown in the shot below: you can see all the uncured 3D material from the printing process in the box, and also a crack in one of the corners of the Jellypod prototype.

This crack was caused by handling the brittle material but it helped us identify a couple of issues with the zipper that would definitely not have been obvious without this modeling process. These weaknesses and other early stage issues have been fixed in newer designs, and these new variants are now in the hands of a variety of potential manufacturing partners based in Asia and Europe for discussion of full scale production. The confidence these prototypes give you in the final design is really quite helpful, and we are acquiring a lot of knowledge that is not simple to replicate.

This Jellypod has brought the whole concept to life, as was demonstrated when we took it on an airline trip in hand luggage. Later this week we will be telling the story of that trip – and a nice little moment when x-ray security staff saw a Jellypod for the first time…

Thanks for various photos to Gordon Crum at VeritasForge.

April 19, 2010

Skeletons in the Jellypod

Posted in Design, Modelling tagged , , , , at 8:26 am by Kilo

One of the simple but useful innovations in a Jellypod is the way we mimic nature to create visible internal structure – a skeleton.

In the renderings below you can see several variations on the skeleton theme, ranging from a full semi-rigid frame to soft dividers that allow users to organize their toiletries a little better – for instance keeping hair brushes away from liquids and toothbrushes away from  hair brushes.

The Jellypod above features a component that we eventually put to one side for later incarnations, the full internal skeleton made form a slightly harder grade of material (by the way one of the technicalities we have come to understand during this process is the specification of material hardness, graded on the Shore A scale). The Jellypod below shows a more natural internal structure with soft radii that is a more pleasing visual effect but actually much harder to make technically.

In this last picture you can also start to see we are experimenting with coloration. To comply with security rules it is really important that the Jellypods are transparent, but they can also have a very slight coloration to allow for personal taste.

The really nice thing about all these designs is the way we could play with the structure and form in CAD and examine in minute detail the impact of design changes on the way the Jellypods worked. Below you can see another intermediate design in a cutaway view on the CAD system – the light green plane is the cutaway section through the Jellypod. This allows us to see inside the bag and check tiny details:-

Later this week we’ll let you experience this aspect of our process yourself – we’ll be releasing short video showing the capabilities a modern 3D visualization system and allowing you to zoom into the very tiny recesses of a Jellypod. Stay tuned!

April 14, 2010

Rapid prototypes: printing curvy zippers in 3D

Posted in CAD/CAM, Design, Modelling, Prototyping at 5:00 am by Kilo

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.

April 12, 2010

First images of the product in glorious 3D

Posted in CAD/CAM, Design, Modelling, Production, Prototyping at 8:50 am by Kilo

As we moved through the design process we started getting early colour 3D renders out of the CAD systems and the Jellypods started looking good enough to eat! This was a very exciting moment – we were seeing ideas start to take form in a way that looks quite real.

Below you can see a sneak preview of one of the earliest designs. This was one of the very first 3D renders of the basic shape, without any additional features like internal compartments, skeletons, logos or the zipper closure. But you can already see the form of the product and at least one of the key styling features – the trademark curvy opening slot on top.

These kind of very basic renders are great for understanding the look and feel of the product – the shape, styling, translucency etc – and for communicating with manufacturers, but they are still a few steps removed from something you can make in the real world. Many key features needed exploration and integration. For example, we had to look very closely at the closure system – the shape, the reinforcement, the materials, the way the slider would work, the interaction  with the rest of the Jellypod. You can see one detail of an early iteration below:-

We went through several implementations as both design issues and production limitations became more and more clear. Those changes will be at the heart of the next few blogs, where we’ll be exploring:

  • how ERIC helped us decide which parameters were important for value creation and differentiation
  • how we solved issues with materials that had great marketing appeal but weak mechanical properties
  • how the design changed as we got to grips with actually making this in a factory
  • how we used rapid prototypes to explore and fix issues
  • how working with manufacturers early saved us tens of thousands of dollars on bad tooling

There will much more gorgeous eye candy in the coming days as we build up to opening the website.

April 11, 2010

First visualizations using CAD

Posted in CAD/CAM, Design, Modelling at 7:39 am by Kilo

Although the original technical drawings for the Jellypods were created by hand in an A3 sketch pad using pencil, rulers and lots of eraser rubber, it was really necessary to move to a more professional medium to allow us to communicate the design to production partners and slot into CAD/CAM work flows.

The modern age of internet communications is revolutionizing the way many businesses work, and Jellypods has also been able to benefit from the information age. A good example is the collaboration with our CAD/CAM design partner, US-based VeritasForge. Owned and run by Gordon Crum, VeritasForge has been with us since the very first sketches, helping to formalize ideas and rough technical drawings into full scale CAD-originated technical drawings, full colour 3D renders and even full scale 3D rapid prototypes.

Above is the very first rendering of the Jellypod basic squircle-inspired shape in 3D, and below you can see some of the technical specs of one early component in the zipper design. Having this level of technical detail is crucial when it comes to working with production partners, who need very specific inputs to ensure their machines can be set-up to create the products we want.

We’ve been working with Gordon and his team remotely via email, Elance.com, Skype video conferences and Fedex, and we’ve been able to produce some nifty results in just a few short weeks in a highly iterative design process via the miracle of a broadband network. With the time difference between our two locations, that has meant burning a lot of midnight oil to stay on track, but the results have been well worth the effort.

In the next few posts we’ll be revealing more pictures and renders of the Jellypod design as it progressed. Stay tuned!

April 9, 2010

Assessing the flaws in ziplock bags

Posted in Modelling, Prototyping at 9:25 am by Kilo

Many of the issues of using a ziplock bag as a travelling case for liquids were well known to us from many hundreds of thousands of air miles travelling with them in hand luggage over that past few years:-

  • splits in the plastic
  • contamination of medicines that break open
  • accumulations of gunk from various small leakages
  • weak closure strength
  • the need to constantly replace the bag
  • lack of organization inside the bag

But during the design process we also tested a few quite strange areas of weakness, such as the ability of the ziplock sandwich bag to withstand being frozen full of water. When water freezes it expands in volume by about 9%-10% – with a force that has literally crushed the hulls of ships. Below you can see a picture of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition ship ‘Endurance’ being crushed by expanding ice, even though the ‘Endurance’ was one of the strongest wooden ships ever built, with a hull that was up to 75cm thick.


We wanted to know what would happen to both a ziplock bag and a Jellypod if someone choose to use it for making large ice cubes. So we filled one with water and put it in the freezer. Below you can see a photo of the ziplock bag full of an icy block – and the zipper popping open as the water freezes and expands into ice.

Strange but quite interesting tests like this gave us some ideas of the properties needed in a Jellypod, and also gave us some good ideas for differentiation and marketing of Jellypods. In later blogs we’ll show you some other interesting tests we carried out – some of them were quite destructive and fun to watch!

Playing with silicone molds

Posted in Modelling, Prototyping at 9:10 am by Kilo

When we first started to investigate shapes and designs, we used a bunch of simple  modelling techniques to get an idea of how the Jellypods design would come together. One of the most basic was of course pencil and paper, but that quickly moved onto an investment of about $100 in modelling clay and casting silicone and a some messy hours in the kitchen.

In the picture below you can see the very first attempt to cast the curvy Jellypods zipper opening, to see if the shape worked in practise. This model was made using a silicone baking dish as the mold frame and some modelling clay shaped as required to make the form of the top opening slit of a Jellypod.

Although a very basic and rough model, it was useful to see if it opened and closed with some springiness as expected, and how the end points would react to being stretched. You can also see the embryonic Jellypods logo embedded in the casting, made from a finger print in the modelling clay!

Of course this material is not the final material we will use in the Jellypods, but it was a useful exercise to test a couple of ideas. Testing like this, where we actually build something and see if it works, has been part of the Jellypods design process throughout. We want these thing to work, because we want to use them ourselves. And that means lots of time and energy playing with ideas. In later blogs we’ll show you how far we took the modelling process – into the realm of very cool three dimensional printing using machines called Objets and ZPrinters.