Behind the Scenes: Slimline
posted ago by Invention Ambassadors
Inventor Leanne Luce had the dorm room setting in mind when developing her idea for Slimline. She wanted to create a compact drying rack that could fold up flat, providing everyday functionality while taking up minimal space. After designer Adam Paskow and the community took their first crack at the project, they came up with a slim and stylish design made primarily of wood, which would hang discreetly in a closet or on the back of a door.
However, when we obtained retail interest in the product, and began to prepare it for manufacturing, we found that using wood as the primary material was making the product too expensive. To compensate, designer Jess Fügler decided to change the material to metal, which reduced production costs enough to make Slimline competitive at market. Designer Kate Vallon then set about refining the product, to work out any final kinks in the manufacturing process.
After receiving the first off-tooling samples from our manufacturer, Kate decided to try hanging the new design from doors around the office, and immediately noticed that some doors were not shutting properly with Slimline hanging from the top. To allow these doors to close, Kate asked our manufacturer to stamp down the tubular metal rod located on the product’s hangers. By stamping the metal, thereby crushing the hollow metal tube down to a flat piece, the hanger would be slim enough to allow any door to close properly. In order for this stamped piece of metal to attach to the rest of the product, Kate also asked the manufacturer to slip the stamped metal into the unflattened metal tube, then weld it in place. We used the image below to explain this process visually:
Upon further inspection of the first off-tooling samples, Kate also decided to change the location of the clip that connects the drop-down rack to the hanging frame. At first, we thought that one clip located on the top of Slimline would be enough, but we noticed that this format was presenting a few problems. The clip was rotating around the top bar too easily, and was also coming loose from the top bar. We also found that the clip was too high for certain users to reach. Here is Kate’s visual indication of the problem, as relayed to the manufacturer:
To solve for this in the second off-tooling sample, Kate suggested that we remove the clip from the top of the unit altogether, and place two clips between the third and fourth rod on both the left and right side of the product. After receiving the second sample, we liked the way that these clips were holding the drop-down rack in place, but found that the clips were still rotating around the metal rod too freely. The solution to this was blessedly simple: Kate asked our manufacturer to add a small hole in the metal rod and a small hole in the clip, allowing a pin to be inserted to stabilize the clip in place.
After receiving the second off-tooling sample, Kate made a few more changes that she thought would benefit the user’s experience with the product. She suggested that we move the cord connecting the body of the product and the drop-down rack, repositioning it on the outside corner of the U-shaped rack. This was to prevent the wire from getting caught between the two pieces when Slimline is folded up. In order to make sure that our manufacturer got this right, Kate went to the design lab and drilled a hole in the proper place, depicted in the photograph below:
Kate also asked our manufacturer to make sure that they slightly bend the top part of the product, where it hooks on to the door. When these hooks are not straight, they prevent the frame of Slimline from laying flat against the door. Kate conveyed this change to our manufacturer using the image below. She also asked that they slightly reduce the width of the product as a whole, as further testing revealed that the original format was too large for certain doors.
After all of Kate’s design remarks were met by our manufacturer, we received the final off-tooling sample (pictured below) and gave the manufacturer our approval to put the product into mass production! It should be hitting the Quirky Shop page sometime soon, so keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.