Industrial Design, CAD, Virtual Prototyping, Physical Prototyping, Tooling, Production
Disposable Beach Ash Tray
A Flash of Inspiration
Marty, the inventor of the Beach Ash Tray and his wife are admittedly "beach bums." While they love the refreshment of walking along a beach, they hated finding it littered with discarded cigarette butts. This gave him an idea for a product that beach goers could use to responsibly discard their used cigarette butts. He envisioned something simple and inexpensive to manufacture but stackable so that they could be distributed in a manner similar to “Dixie” style disposable cups. A conical design, in conjunction with the vertical blades, also made it easier to “corkscrew” the ash tray into the sand for use. Here is a patent drawing from his original patent application.
The market for the product would be beach front resorts and municipalities that wish to cost effectively maintain more attractive beaches. The cone-shaped ashtray could be placed at beach access points so that beach goers can grab one from the dispenser as they are walking onto the beach. The ashtray can be twisted down into the sand easily to firmly secure it next to their towels, blankets and chairs for convenient and safe disposal of unsightly cigarette butts.
Proof Of Concept Prototyping
Marty, being somewhat technically skilled, developed a handmade proof-of-concept prototype to make sure the general invention would work as intended. It did. Though there was still a lot of design, development and testing to be done, the inventor was satisfied that his idea worked well enough to pursue further development. You can see in the image that the prototype is a bit rough, however, appearance is normally not a primary concern with a proof-of-concept prototype concept because prototypes at this stage are primarily designed for the purpose of proving that the concept works. Here is the inventor's proof-of-concept prototype.
Product Development Assistance
After Marty had tested his proof-of-concept prototype, he still had not determined the best functional design, wall thicknesses, or even the final material for manufacturing. Having taken the product development as far as he could himself, the inventor hired our team to design and engineer his product so that it would be suitable for high quality prototypes and mass production. Surprisingly, even though this is a one piece, simple mechanical device, there are often more complexities and design challenges than the casual observer would expect. In fact, the industrial design and CAD engineering required six more weeks of brainstorming and fine tuning the final design.
The prototypes in this stage were created from the CAD drawings. Two prototypes were made so that Marty could test the nesting feature. Upon close examination, you will notice that the edges are not perfect. This is because, with some inventions, it is not easy to build a perfect prototype until it has been tooled up for mass production. Materials and processes used for making prototypes are typically very different than the materials and processes used to manufacturer the actual products. The inventor, having knowledge of the prototyping process, was aware that the prototype of his product design would have some visual imperfections, but for his purposes of testing the strength and function of the new design, it was more than adequate. Here is an image of the finished prototypes:
“The DCP product development team has been very hard working, up front and honest. Having years of hands on product development tinkering I know how challenging physical product development can be and I truly feel I found the right team to work with. They put 100% into my product and made it as important to them as it is to me.
It has also been nice to be have conversations about my legal, manufacturing and marketing strategies with one group of professionals who understand everything as opposed to many unrelated people and companies."
Marty E. - VA
Client's Proof of Concept Prototype
Solidworks CAD Models
High Quality Physical Prototypes
Industrial Design Exchange with Marty
“My original design concept was to have the doors open outward to bring the sand in more quickly... But the problem was that the pressure of the sand pushing on blades when pushed down into sand caused the blades to open inward... So I designed around that.
That being said... "WOW"... Your idea is genius! If we form the blades in a closed position even with walls (still need a gap around it to allow sand to exit) and then design the lid so that it pushes the blades open would work much better!! And would allow more space inside of ashtray and make stacking perfect. The blades need to open as much as possible to work best. The part of the lid that pushes blade open may need to be reinforced with a rib underneath the lid so it will not bend when snapped into place and it then pushes blades open.
What a great idea! :O)
Pleased with the prototypes and being confident in the working relationship developed Marty moved forward and ordered the tooling and samples for his product in the spring. The production samples were received by mid summer.
After significant product testing Marty determined there were several minor adjustments that still needed to be made to the design and part thickness. Upon review of the adjustments it was mutually agreed to make the changes.
Marty has now received and approved the product samples from the tooling.
Engineering & Design
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