3D Printing at SPOR
For most, 3D printing is still a hobbyist activity used to print trinkets and prototypes, not real products.
However, with General Electric using 3D printing to manufacture 85,000 fuel nozzles, Nike employing the process in its cleat plates and Hershey's latest partnership with 3D systems to build a printer exclusively for chocolate, a number of bigger players are pushing the technology closer towards the mainsteam market.
People often ask us why we utilize 3D printing at SPOR.
As an early stage company, committing to an injection molded design can carry a lot of risk regarding inventory levels, possible re-designs and expensive upfront tooling costs. Undoubtedly, the final product will "look more professional," but at what cost?
One of SPOR's most distinct values is adaptability through collaboration, which is one of the reasons we pursued an open-source model. After all, our team only represents a fraction of our product users, why not solicit ideas from those using it the most?
Should we offer a shell with ribbed edges? A carabiner clip? A whole new design altogether?
All those changes are possible, and available for anyone to make through our downloadable shell design, currently hosted on Thingiverse and YouMagine. In turn, this makes our flagship solar charger ultimately adaptable.
How We Beefed Up Our Shell Design in 36 Hours
SPOR Shell Before and After Re-Design
Wednesday May 27, 3pm: Testing of our SPOR shell shows signs of potential weakness on one of the connection ledges.
Wednesday May 27, 5pm: The team meets for a brainstorming session on how to improve the shell design.
Wednesday May 27, 8pm: Resident inventor and arguably the most interesting man in the world (sorry Dos Equis), Steve Webb, settles into Solidworks and begins the re-design process.
Thursday May 28, 1am: 2 bulletproof coffees later (the savior of startups, salute Dave Asprey!), the first re-design is complete and begins printing on our Ultimaker 2.
Thursday May 28, 3am: The print is complete, assembled and tested. Better! But some tweaks still need to be made.
Thursday May 28, 1pm: The second re-design is printed out and tested. We're getting there, but not quite yet.
Thursday May 28, 9pm: We realize Steve's been listening to 4 songs on repeat for almost 28 hours now. We don't question it. The man's so deep in the zone that Bob Marley has taken the last 8 tracks off from singing.
Friday May 29, 1am: The third re-design is ready to print. Fingers crossed as we set her up on the Ultimaker.
Friday May 29, 3am: Print complete. Components inserted. Shell snapped into place. Great news: it's a doozy.
...and just like that, we've solved a potentially troublesome problem in 36 short hours and designed a badass shell in the process. The only question left; what if 3D printing was 100x faster?