Top News from Leading Digital Manufacturing Solution Providers
July 23, 2012
Small Startup Dreams Big with iPhone Accessories
3D printing and simulation applications have gained popularity in the manufacturing sector. The ability to test without fabrication and subsequently print out prototypes has helped traditional manufacturers accelerate their time to market. The process saves money too, which means these tools are also helping smaller startups.
Recently, Digital Manufacturing Report spoke with Nate Justiss, one of the three members that make up distilunion. The South Carolina startup is currently in the process of building and marketing their first product called Snooze. It’s a small stand that replaces a classic alarm clock in favor of an iPhone.
DMR: Tell us about the distilunion team. Have you or your partners been involved in product development / manufacturing in the past?
Nate Justiss: The team consists of Lindsay Windham, Adam Printz and Myself. We all worked together for Philips inventing, designing, packaging and marketing iPhone, iPod, and iPad accessories. When our office moved to Stamford, CT, we stayed in Charleston to do freelance work but after about 6 months of that, we decided to band together and produce our own products. We missed the teamwork and camaraderie of collaborating on new projects. Snooze is our first offering but we have a ton of ideas we're developing behind it.
DMR: Can you break down the process of developing the Snooze? What tools did you use?
Nate Justiss: Snooze started out as a silly conversation on our way to do product research at a local Best Buy. We often go shopping together just to see what sort of problems have been solved out there and how they've missed the mark in some way. It really is good to get out of the office and organically talk about ideas. You never know what might inspire you in solving a problem, applying a material or even packaging a product. Sometimes we come back with 20 or more ideas that can sustain us for a year. Ideas are cheap. The execution is the tough part.
This is the part of development where we've really benefited from the tools we use, from a Wacom tablet to sketch up initial ideas and the wood working tools we use to rough out prototypes, to the CAD we use to refine them, to the 3D printers we use to realize them. All this digital technology aids us in rapidly accelerating our product development cycles. We're in an industry where speed is key. Apple is very tight-lipped about what is coming out so our ability to react once they release a product is of great importance.
DMR: How many prototypes did your team design prior to fabricating the first physical unit?
Nate Justiss: We're really still in prototype phase with Snooze. We're up to the level of prototype tooling for our rubber and plastic pieces and our wood samples are being produced as they would in a factory. The level of precision in manufacturing the wood is quite impressive. We're still making tweaks and changes but what we have now are very close to production.
Including the rough prototypes we made here in our office, we're now on our 8th proto. Since about model 4, the tweaks have been very minor. Prototyping for us really helps us get to where we're going quickly. We learn the most in our first rough mockups. We often call those Frankenstein models because we'll pull pieces and parts from stuff we have lying around just to prove the concept. If we can't get it to work at that level or don't see promise or usefulness, we'll often leave it at that. If, however, we see a spark of promise, we'll quickly refine that and get a model printed up or otherwise manufactured to approximate a realistic product. We regularly use FDM, SLA, Urethane castings, and milling to build these.
DMR: Have you created products without CAD or 3D printers? If so, how would you compare the design and manufacturing process?
Nate Justiss: CAD has always been involved in our process for smaller products. We've found that using CAD in conjunction with 3D printers always keeps the control in the hands of the designers and engineers. Adam and I went to school together at Auburn University where we studied Industrial Design. We were trained in basic drafting and marker rendering to get the fundamentals down. We enjoyed it, but soon realized that later in the curriculum when we were taught the more advanced tools, we could do so much more. We taught ourselves Rhino and have been using it ever since. We've come of age, as designers, in a time where CAD is king. We're always impressed with products made before CAD was available because we know how much work had to go into it. However, we're not going back.
Simulations may be increasingly taking advantage of HPC to become more and more sophisticated, but the way those mountains of data are displayed don’t always keep up in terms of staying on the cutting edge. But one avenue for reviewing digital designs, called a cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE), looks to be making up for this trend by combining engineers’ modeling information with virtual reality. Read more...
The ability to control fluid streams at microscale is of great importance in many domains such as biological processing, guiding chemical reactions, and creating structured materials. Recently, it has been discovered that placing pillars of different dimensions, and at different offsets, allows fluid transformations to “sculpt” fluid streams. Read more...
So far, the story surrounding the industrial Internet has been centered around GE, and their plans to infuse their factories with thousands of sensors that will bring big data to manufacturing. But after record-breaking floods from Hurricane Sandy took their toll on New York and New Jersey, environmental and civil engineers have found a new application for the Internet-connected sensor system. Read more...
May 23, 2013 |
In the wake of plastic gun stories, a unique use case for 3D printing helps demonstrate that the additive manufacturing technology's potential to save lives deserves its own place in the spotlight. Now, doctors at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor have combined medical expertise with 3D printing's flexibility to save a three-month old. Read more...
May 23, 2013 |
Researchers have been studying fire ants hoping to learn about their underground navigation skills. They want to apply their findings to making robots that will be able to assist in search and rescue missions for people trapped underground. Read more...
May 22, 2013 |
While advanced carbon-fiber composites have been used in the recent years, researchers are searching for materials that are even stronger and lighter. Composites made with carbon fibers coated with carbon nanotubes are being considered because they can be hundreds of times stronger than steel and only one-sixth the weight. Read more...
May 22, 2013 |
NASA has awarded a $125,000 grant for a project intended to 3D print food for astronauts in space. The printer will mix together basic nutrients such as oil and protein powder to create the food. It will also allow the user to input their sex, age, and weight so that it can make the food based on the individual's own nutritional needs. Read more...
May 17, 2013 |
This week, Airbus towed its newest airliner, the A350 XWB, out of its hangar and is poised to roll it into the spotlight of the upcoming Paris Air Show. The A350 XWB has been designed with the goal of surpassing the 787 in fuel efficiency and comfort, and has forgone metal for composite materials to make it happen. Read more...
03/20/2013 | SAS | This white paper examines how an enterprise-wide quality platform can turn existing data into substantial and sustainable revenue growth and cost savings for global manufacturers. The paper is based on the findings of the IW/SAS Enterprise Quality Survey completed by more than 400 manufacturing executives. The objectives of the survey were to determine concerns about quality among manufacturers; investigate the tools used to measure quality; and examine how using enterprise-wide analysis on quality data improves performance.
07/19/2011 | Univa | TATA Steel Automotive Engineering’s concern grew when open source Grid Engine support and development was discontinued by Oracle. Grid Engine is a business critical application in their environment. They recognized the likelihood that product enhancements and innovations would cease. Read how TATA Steel Automotive Engineering moved from a self-support solution to Univa Grid Engine. You can get more out of your environment and your budget with Univa Grid Engine.