CAD Tech News (#39)13 Apr, 2016 By: Cadalyst Staff
Headed by a team of female designers and engineers, the crowdfunded startup approaches brassiere design from a user's perspective.
By Cyrena Respini-Irwin
One hears a lot of talk these days advocating greater diversity in engineering, mathematics, and other disciplines that have, in this country, traditionally been dominated by white men. We're all familiar with the calls for including more women and minorities in technical learning and work environments. But apart from the obvious — excluding talented people because of their gender, race, or any irrelevant factor unfairly limits their growth and hobbles their earning power — why does it matter?
If you're a designer, an engineer, or another kind of professional problem solver, it matters because one person who sees the situation differently can be more valuable than 100 people who think along the same lines. A more heterogeneous group naturally brings a broader range of perspectives and experiences to the table. That can pay off when seeking answers — and identifying problems in the first place.
An example is Trusst Lingerie, a startup company that was showcased on the main stage at the SolidWorks World user conference in February. Two Carnegie Mellon–trained industrial designers — CEO Sophia Berman and CPO Laura West — founded Trusst to tackle a common design problem that few of their male counterparts are even aware of.
Berman and West knew from experience that underwire-based brassiere designs aren't perfect, although they've been in use for decades. "The weight should be supported in both the band and the cups, but most bras are ineffective and a large portion of the load is distributed by the shoulder straps [instead]," said Berman. That pressure can cause shoulder, neck, and back pain, especially for larger-busted women. In addition, underwires can poke and squeeze uncomfortably. "It's a really widespread problem that isn't really talked about," said West.
Old Problem, New Approach
In 2014, Berman and West joined AlphaLab Gear, a hardware startup accelerator program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and began looking for solutions. "We wanted to create a product that would be impactful," said Berman.
To better understand breast volumes and the variety of body shapes, the team tried collecting data with a Sense handheld 3D scanner from 3D Systems, but ultimately found it was most helpful to get measurements — and input — from volunteers the old-fashioned way. "We just looked at the way weight was [positioned] on the body, and how to support that," said Berman. Read more »
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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.
Newest PolyJet system from Stratasys promises highly realistic product prototypes without post-processing — for a price.
By Cyrena Respini-Irwin
On April 4th, Stratasys launched the J750, which it calls the "world's only 3D printer to produce full color, multi-material prototypes and parts in a single 3D print." These capabilities improve on those of the company's Objet500 Connex3, launched in 2014. The Connex3 combines as many as three materials in a print job, yielding a limited number of color choices. The J750, in contrast, has the capacity for six materials per job (plus one support material), yielding more than 360,000 color combinations and full-color gradients. The color is also repeatable from part to part and from one machine to another, confirmed Roger Kelesoglu, general manager of global sales enablement for Stratasys. Texture mapping enables the replication of text, logos, patterns, and designs on the printed object.
Those features come in handy at the OtterBox product testing lab in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the J750 is used to print prototype smartphone cases in a rainbow of colors and patterns. A prototype with an elaborate floral design would be infeasible to paint by hand, pointed out Brycen Smith, engineering technician supervisor, but it is no more difficult for the J750 to create than a solid-color case.
The team prints multiple iterations of each case design to check the location of buttons, tweak snaps, and ensure that camera openings do not obscure the lens. It's essential that every detail is perfected before moving to full production, because the company will build as many as 1,500 steel molds in preparation for a major product launch, said founder and Chief Visionary Officer Curt Richardson — all of which would have to be changed in the event of an error.
His company has been using 3D printing to create OtterBox and LifeProof case prototypes for about 10 years, said Richardson, but now, thanks to advances in the technology, "they're real close to production parts." Read more »
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