At this stage in our Design to Manufacturing Series, we’re starting to wrap up our headset/cellphone project. The industrial design of the “Transporter Project” and the “Holster Project” share the same family look and design details. It’s important to vary the aesthetic so that each product stands out on its own.
With the help of SOLIDWORKS Visualize, the Industrial Designers could explore different surface treatments, colors, and LED configurations. SOLIDWORKS Visualize has a very intuitive, “what you see is what you get” interface, and the recent A.I Denoiser (which filters out noise from unfinished or noisy images) lets you create renderings nearly in real-time. It is operational in Fast and Accurate render modes for both setting up your renderings and rendering out any format (images, animations, Interactive, 360-VR, etc.) A rendering that would take several hours in previous versions now takes several minutes.
The Holster vs. The Transporter
The Transporter design has an ultra-thin profile with a front and back cover. Any color or color combination will work just fine without visually adding mass. The Holster design has an inside and outside housing and is suspended off the side of a laptop monitor. We explored transparency and translucency to visually lighten the overall appearance.
Other options we considered were metallic surface options, soft matte textures, printed patterns, and molded-in patterns. The Transporter uses the integral PCB’s LED to create a sleek ribbon of light, emitting from within the housing. The Holster incorporates the auxiliary LED strip to create an internal glow from the inside housing.
With SOLIDWORKS Visualize Professional, we could model the effects of the LEDs using Emissive appearance techniques combined with the Bloom camera option. This creates a realistic lighting effect on the render.
With these unique color and LED options, we were able to create two aesthetically individual, yet similar design directions.
SOLIDWORKS Visualize helped determine the final design direction for both the Holster and the Transporter, so now it was time to 3D print our final designs.
3D Printing Models
To produce our designs, we used a Stratasys J750 PolyJet 3D printer, which is capable of printing multi-material and multi-color (including clear) prototypes in the same build. The Holster incorporates the clear outer housing and a soft durometer material on the front and back clamp to protect the surface of the laptop monitor. The Transporter also includes clear material in the cell phone support and near the PCB to allow the LED to be visible.
Once the 3D print was complete, the support structures were removed. In the case of the Holster, the clear surfaces containing the support structure were frosted. These surfaces required a light sanding to bring back the clarity and then sprayed with a clear coat. The larger outer housing was wet sanded with 400-grit sandpaper, dried and checked for missed areas. The clear part looks great!
All of the engineering challenges for mass production have been resolved, the prototypes are printed and assembled, and we have arrived at the end of our Design to Manufacturing Series.
During our product development journeys, we have experienced challenges our customers face every day such as tight deadlines, not having access to the PDM vault, delays in shipments, machine delays.
Development using the SOLIDWORKS suite of products was the easy part. We feel confident through the use of SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, PCB, Simulation, Plastics, and Flow, that our final designs can be manufactured and will perform as expected with normal use. And our 3D printed models provide visual feedback, furthered insight to our designs, and validated our findings.
In the end, we have produced some pretty sweet, manufacturable cellphone charger stands with headset supports for those of us with a messy desk.
Want to check them out in person? Join us for one of our SOLIDWORKS 2020 Design to Manufacturing Events!
About the Author
Laura Nickerson is an Application Engineer with Fisher Unitech. She has 17 years of experience in the consumer appliance industry working as an industrial designer and mechanical designer. Laura is detail-oriented, a problem solver, and is listed as co-inventor in over 40 patents.