In this post I’ll follow up a post from over a year ago in which I discussed a wallet prototype that I designed and fabricated. To recap, I never had a wallet that I felt was well designed for me so I decided to design one of my own. I had a couple of key criteria including that it was super thin, protected my business cards, and allowed my to get my cash and license out of my pocket without having to take the entire wallet out. My first prototype was fabricated out of duct tape and worked quite well. It survived a surprisingly long time as well, till about a month ago.
Granted, it had some issues that prevented me from fabricating another one out of duct tape, but it was clearly good enough to keep me from making something better until it literally fell apart. It’s amazing how durable duct tape is! One downside of the material is the fact that it can get a little sticky at the edges where the adhesive is exposed. It also tends to stretch out over time which wasn’t ideal. Ok, so on to the next generation!
Before fabricating something usable, I decided to make some prototypes out of paper to determine the best possible fabrication pattern. Now that I was going to use a sheet material (rather than strips) the parts would be quite different. I can up with four potential fabrication plans which put the seams in different places … and one that was made from a tube of fabric. Some required glued, or bonded, seams others did not. Ultimately, I settled on a minimal design that requires only six straight-line sewn edges, or six heat-bonded seams depending on the fabrication material.
The final design uses lass material, requires three pieces of material and includes several other improvements. These include:
- better business card protection due to a slightly deeper pocket.
- reduced lint/dirt contamination due to openings at the bottom of the pockets.
- slimmer, due to less material used.
- better edge protection for bills due to outside seam placement.
- easier card access due to shortening of the inside pockets, fabric with less friction, and the removal of triangular cut outs.
- more durable, due to synthetic fabric.
Now that I’ve got a super solid design that I’m happy with, I’m looking forward to moving away from the white material (which was helpful far marking) and fabricating samples in higher fidelity with the use of a heat cutter and sewing machine. For those interested in seeing some of the process I went through to get to this design, I’m including images of some of the earlier prototypes below.
A good friend and I are working on an invention that we believe will solve a problem faced by urban bikers. I can’t say much more than that, but that’s probably all you really need to know in order to consider my prototyping conundrum. It deals with a common problem, I believe, that arises when prototyping to test your concept versus prototyping for manufacture.
When should we be thinking in terms of the final (manufactured) design and when should we be thinking in terms of the design that is required to test and get feedback on the concept? You see, we’re planning on doing a short run of the device (say 100 units) so we can do some testing and it doesn’t make sense to have them cast. Following this, we have to change some elements of the design to accommodate manufacture by other means.
Should we have two separate prototype paths? In reality, the details aren’t THAT different but it can be confusing because we haven’t been good as saying “with respect to the testing prototype, I think we should …” My gut tells me that we just need to add some structure to our process to resolve this issue for now. But, you do have to wonder how to balance your time and effort between the two prototypes.
Is it a marketing issue? Some of the details in question are purely aesthetic or at least partially aesthetic and it’s unclear how much weight to give them. Though clearly, that’s more of an issue with the manufacturing prototype. There’s also the issue of cost of goods sold and how our choices will effect that. Our designs have evolved quite a bit so we haven’t had the chance to speak with potential manufactures about the impact of our choices. My partner is an engineer, but still we don’t really have a sense of if we’re talking about dollars per unit or cents for some of our choices.
When should we think about cost? For me, and with regard to this device,Â it boils down to the fact that no matter what we do our device will cost significantly less than other devices in the same category …. so I’m not really worried about cost too much at this point. Maybe that’s wrong, but it seems to me that we should come up with the “best” solution and try to control costs from there. I guess this stems from my belief that people are willing to pay for great products and that pricing is in large part irrational (refer to Predictably Irrational if you want more on why).
I welcome your thoughts!
I recently produced an event for Sprout entitled Building Brands on Social Networks and am writing to share some of the presentations and content from the half-day summit. We had an overwhelming response and ended up with a packed room, which was very exciting. I hope you’ll find value in the assets below.
I also want to put out a big thank you to our presenters and to San Francisco Social Media Week and the San Francisco Chapter of the American Marketing Association for their help getting the word out. And, thanks for Justin.tv who produced the live video feed which is archived below.
Building Brands on Social Networks
Note: the video from the event did not start until part way though this preso, so we’ve added the audio to the slide deck on slideshare.
Alexandre Roche’s presentation
Dog Book: Lessons Learned from the Popular Facebook Application
Deborah Schultz’s presentation
It’s the People Stupid
Kaz Brecher’s presentation
Rock The Space Toyota/MySpace from the Schematic Perspective
Archived video from the event at Justin.tv