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.
At 30,000 feet, equipment failure is simply not an option, which is part of why additive manufacturing has been a bit slow to catch on in the aerospace industry. But according to Michael Idelchik, vice president of GE’s advanced technologies research, GE Aviation is still looking for more ways that additive manufacturing can help to create a better airplane... Read more...
Despite reassurances of automation professionals throughout the industry, some experts simply aren't convinced that technological advancements in robotics and automation aren't negatively impacting U.S. employment rates, which is what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of the MIT Sloan School of Management have been arguing over the past year and a half. Read more...
As far as modeling and simulation are concerned, nautical transportation isn’t one of the first things to come to mind. Still, it presents a unique use case for computer-integrated manufacturing, as the focus of the modeling and simulation is on the construction process itself. By coordinating the insertion of massive hull blocks, it not only streamlines construction, but it improves safety as well. Read more...
Jun 14, 2013 |
Last month’s news of 3D printers entering brick-and-mortar Staples stores may have represented a major step in mainstream commercialization of additive manufacturing tools, but in what is perhaps an even bigger step, online retail giant Amazon recently added a dedicated section of its site to 3D printers and supplies. Read more...
Jun 12, 2013 |
In the wake of the economic downturn, reshoring efforts and increased emphasis on STEM, there’s plenty of uncertainty about where global manufacturing is headed in the next several years. Helping to give us a better sense of this trajectory is a group of thought leaders who have come together to try and answer the most pertinent questions about the future. Read more...
Jun 11, 2013 |
As the U.S. manufacturing sector fights to stay competitive on a global scale, the issue of improving STEM education has been key. But in a recent study measuring how workers in STEM fields are putting their educations to use it was found that half didn't need a bachelor's degree. Read more...
Jun 10, 2013 |
Chevrolet has added digital manufacturing technology to its arsenal. Abandoning clay for their latest Malibu, the automaker has turned to two types of additive manufacturing to meet their rapid prototyping needs. Read more...
Jun 07, 2013 |
When you think of the aerospace technologies, the term “cutting-edge” doesn't often lag far behind. Even so, GE Aviation's new jet engine fuel nozzle is helping to take that association one step further: rather than being made from 20 different parts, it's manufactured in a single step with a 3D printer, which has made it 25 percent lighter. 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.