To Die or to Mould


In this article, we will cover the aesthetics design of the device shell. In previous articles, we have covered how we went about designing the guts of the device. The device aesthetics is an important part of the overall design and development process.
After the device circuit was tested and everything was found to be working ok, we started thinking about device aesthetics. The decision of what we should aim for was mainly based on the roadmap of the device (should be able to cram the future version in the same shell ?), and what kind of functionality we should cram, in the first release. Other than the obvious design questions related to heat dissipation, interference from shell, opaqueness and, connectors size and sockets, that we left for the design engineers to solve.

Figure 1: 3D modelling of the device shell
With these design parameters, we started working on our initial design. Once we were satisfied that we have taken care of parameters that were important to us, then we went for 3D printing. 3D printed models are not of good quality and you cannot really try to screw in your stuff as they easily peel and chip off. These models only give you a neat idea about things to come. Figure 1 shows the 3D model of the CloudCam. The pictures below show the 3D printed models.
3D model

3D modelFigure 2: 3D printed prototypes
3D printed models went thru few iterations. We tested rigorously for various things like different sizes of micro USB connectors, snug fitting of device parts inside it, fitting of standard sizes of various components purchased off the shelf. This is the area where you need to have good experience of what is cheap and abundant in the local market. Once the team was satisfied we went for the next step of mould assembly design. This is a set of drawings that will help in carving out a mould that can output the shell in a mould maker machine. Figure 3 shows the design of the mould assembly.

Figure 3: The mould assembly drawing for the shell.
After the mould assembly drawings were ready we approached the local mould making outfit. They are also a startup as our own. At the start of our work, we have decided that we will give preference to local providers and among them, the ones that are open-minded, creative and in the startup phase. The idea was that we will work on this startup ecosystem and help each other grow.
So finally the work on building the mould started!

Mould design 1 – cavity and heat treatment completed
cavity and heat treatment completed

Mould design 2 – Core insert edm
Core insert edm

Mould design 3 – CNC complete
CNC complete

Mould design 4 – The mould ready to be casted
mould ready to be casted

Mould design 5 – The very first output, will require some iterations
After some fine-tuning, we went from sample generation to bulk manufacturing of the CloudCam.

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