Finally, A Real Product In Our Hands!
Updated: Sep 28, 2018
Several days later, a package came in from Shapeways. It was very small and light, but it was a real product! Here is a picture of the very first prototype on the left. You can compare that to the current pre-production version on the right. You can see the evolution as we moved from idea to reality.
I was amazed! I was holding an actual item in my hands that has never existed before. Lisa had an idea, we did the design work and now we were holding an actual product!
3D printing is an amazing tool for an inventor. You can quickly get versions of your product manufactured and that allows you to assess how the vision translates to reality. We had initially thought the SeaClutch should be very small so that it would not detract from the picture frames themselves, but we realized that design created several practical functional issues. By making it very small, it didn’t have a large enough area to adequately grip the frame. It also was so light that it provided no practical stability, so for the first time we realized that we needed to determine a way to stabilize it on the horizontal surface.
The downside of 3D printing is that the material that makes it a cost effective option makes it difficult to imagine what a production version would look and feel like. After we spent a day or two thinking about the prototype and what changes we wanted to make, we decided to make the SeaClutch larger so it would have more gripping power and stability. With that decision, we realized that we would need to ensure the material ultimately chosen for the final product would need to be high quality.
We met with Mike and discussed the design changes. One of the great things about using a local expert is that they can begin to really understand what you are trying to accomplish and offer great ideas and design change suggestions, and Mike was excellent at that. Because of his expertise, he was also able to help us research potential manufacturers.
I realized that I was going to need to understand how to mass produce a product. Mike provided me with several leads on manufacturing, so we began to investigate that.