Copyright ©2018 Protobee, LLC
concept, design, prototyping and mass production
This customer had a product they had been selling for years but they wanted to redesign for mass production and add some spice along the way. We created various concept drawings and renderings showing the design intent and proposed functionality. After arriving on a final concept, we designed a custom circuit board, plastic enclosure and sourced and produced over 5,000 units.
Working from their previous models, we were able to capture the essence of their device while designing in modern components and technologies. We were careful to choose components that were powerful, inexpensive and easily sourced while taking care to address DFM/DFT (Design For Manufacturing/Test) philosophy.
The circuitry is powered by a 32-bit micro-processor and has a Class-D amplifier at it's heart. The firmware uses PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) in order to obtain multiple steps of light with only 4 LED holes per feedback section. This simple design trick enabled us to deliver a truly minimalist industrial design while providing precise feedback for the user. Driven by an 18650 Li-Ion battery, this handheld audio device will run for 2 days straight at full volume and will last for over 3 years on the shelf (drawing less than 0.1mA in standby mode).
The mechanical design includes 3 main PC (Polycarbonate) sections, 4 custom light pipe arrays and 4 custom plastic switches. Polycarbonate was chosen for its durability, UV resistance in sunlight and cost effectiveness. Working with our plastics factory, we created 4 steal family molds for the plastic elements and mass produced the parts once the color was right. This also includes the 4 custom light pipes that were created from clear plastic to bring the light from the various LEDs outside of the case. With the core of the design finished, we then designed and prototyped a custom wire-frame belt clip and headband.
With the design complete, we moved to mass production. We sourced all of the accessory items (USB power adapter, USB cable, audio cable, batteries, and PCB components) and worked with various factories for the custom parts (PCBs, plastics, belt clips, headbands and packaging). We ended up needing to set up partial deliveries from all of the factories to meet the schedule and organized this, and the rest of the assembly procedure, with our final assembly shop.
With the assembly process down and the first units tested and approved, our contract manufacturer went on to produce over 5,000 units according to our specifications. All units were shipped according to the original schedule and the entire project was delivered according to the original contract. It's worth noting here that the entire project, concept to production of over 5,000 units took under 6 months to complete.