Virtual Reality is defined as “a realistic and immersive simulation of a three-dimensional environment, created using interactive software and hardware, and experienced or controlled by movement of the body.” Contact CI plans to take this new technology and push it even further. Tom Buchanan – Chief Product Officer at Contact CI explains that there are still some opportunities for virtual reality to improve. “Right now you put the headset on and your given a controller that you’ve never seen before and don’t know how to interact with. With a headset on you can’t actually see it so for some people it isn’t intuitive to use.” Contact CI’s solution is to develop gloves that bring your fingers and hands into the virtual reality space. “If you are actually able to put a glove on and reach out and use your hands like you have since your toddler days it makes the entire interaction much more seamless, much more immersive and that’s what we are trying to do.” Tom explains.
When the project first started, the Contact CI team would 3D print different prototypes using the makerspace available to them through Syracuse University. However, using the makerspace came with limitations on hours as well as quality of prints. As their business continued to grow Contact CI partnered with Axiom Product Development and was introduced to 3DVision Technologies for their 3D printing part build services. Tom explains the advantage of using a professional service, “being able to come to 3DVision Technologies allows us to step up and ramp up scale and get more quality prints done. Being able to come here and work with you guys has been really helpful for us to get a more market ready product.”
With its intricate design, the VR glove needed both Stratasys FDM and PolyJet technology. Many of the small parts used in the fingers of the glove required fine detail and flexibility. To create these parts, the Connex 260 PolyJet 3D printer was used. Other parts including the housing, buttons, and locks needed to be tough and durable. For those parts, the Fortus 450 FDM printer was used. Tom shares, “You guys have been great with consulting with what printer, and what material to use for different parts. Everything you’ve printed has been just what we needed.” With several trade shows and demo requests, Contact CI often has strict deadlines to meet. All the parts are designed in SOLIDWORKS then sent directly to the 3D printer. This results in parts being completed within hours which Tom says, “has been really helpful for us to hit our deadlines.”
Summary and Metrics
- Improved part build quality by using commercial 3D printers.
- Complete prototypes produced in hours which gave more time for design.
- Ability to print parts using both Stratasys PolyJet and FDM technology.
- 3DVision Technologies consultation ensured the correct material and 3D printing technology were used for each part of the product.