Many of our clients are inventors, entrepreneurs, and other innovative individuals who want to bring their ideas to life. Mike Velasquez at Prolids was one of those clients. Mike’s inventive process began when he had trouble getting his twin boys to wear helmets while skating or riding their bikes. They didn’t like the way the helmets looked, and were concerned that they wouldn’t look “cool” in front of the other kids. This convinced Mike that there could be a real demand for a stylish and cool form of protective head gear, which the younger generation wouldn’t balk at. He was inspired by the flat rimmed ball caps his kids were wearing that had become so popular over the last few years. So Mike began to design a hard rimmed cap that would emulate their shape and style and the “Lid” idea was born.
His prototype development process started by forming the “Lids” using automotive body repair Bondo. And though he was able to create the overall shape he desired, the surface was rough and unrefined and the prototype was heavy. The ultimate goal was to get to an injection molded “Lid” that would be stylish, light weight and durable. However, creating an injection mold requires a clean 3D CAD model from which the mold will be cut. After working with other CAD developers, Mike still couldn’t replicate the subtle differentiations in his handmade prototype that gave it the appearance of being soft like a ball cap. This is when Mike reached out to Professional Image 3D, where we were able to utilize our high-end scanning technology and 3D modeling tools to accurately capture the surface of his hand made prototype.
Once the scanning had been completed, we set about the task of cleaning up the geometry from the scan data, and prepping the file for reverse engineering in Solidworks. Our task was to adjust the model to not only make it sleek and professional by removing any imperfections, but also ensure that the final product could be easily manufactured, paying close attention to wall thicknesses and draft angles. This meant that several modifications needed to be made. We began by removing any of the imperfections from the surface, the Bondo material finish left bumps and ridges in unruly places and required the part to undergo a retopology process. We also had to even out the bottom opening of the Lid, giving it a more fitted and rounded look. We then created an even wall thickness to help with the injection molding process. Finally we straightened out the bill of the Lid aka FlatBoy, and created an additional version with the bill slightly curving upward aka DoBoy.
Once the reverse engineering had been completed, we began to look at the various different solutions for 3D printing the first prototype. A prototype’s 3D printing process and material choice is very important. The geometry, size, surface finish, budget and the intended purpose, all have to be taken into consideration and discussed. Mike prototype required both, a smooth finish and a high durability. For a smooth finish on a part of this size, we knew that SLA (Stereolithography) process would be our best option, and we printed it out of a high-impact ABS-like material.
The end product looks incredible! Prolids has utilized the hydro-graphics process to incorporate beautiful designs on the “Lids”. Mike’s ProLids is now in the marketing and production stage. They have a Kickstarter running to rally interest in the project, and he is having his Lids painted by local artists for special purchases as he prepares to produce them in larger quantities. You can find out more about Mike’s ProLids on his website, and see how Professional Image 3D services helped to inspire innovation, and transform Mike’s vision into a product reality.