On the Job: Daka Dives into New Market with Recreational Seascooter

14 Apr, 2005 By: Cadalyst Staff Cadalyst

Global design firm cuts development time and costs in half using SolidWorks and COSMOS software

Daka Designs is using SolidWorks and COSMOS software to develop new dive-propulsion vehicles -- similar to those used in James Bond movies -- in half the time and at half the costs of using other design software. The group's most recent product, the SEA-DOO Seascooter Dolphin, is the first DPV geared toward the multibillion-dollar swimming pool and family recreation market.

Users eight years and older can glide through pools, lakes or oceans, embarking on new adventures as if they were Jacques Cousteau. As much a swimming aid as a DPV, the Dolphin (figure 1) weighs about 12lb, floats and can propel users to almost 15ft under water.

Figure 1. The SEA-DOO Seascooter Dolphin was Daka's first venture into the family recreation market.

A New Direction
Daka is an award-winning design and development company based in Hong Kong. It offers a range of products and services from industrial design and product engineering to full-scale turnkey product development and manufacturing. The group develops and markets innovative products in the lifestyle, sports and leisure products and marine electronics categories. Daka relies on SolidWorks reseller Cadtek for ongoing software training, implementation and support.

To establish and compete in the family-oriented DPV market, Daka needed to develop the Dolphin, test it and manufacture it in a short timeframe. The group chose SolidWorks 3D mechanical design and COSMOSWorks design validation software to speed the product development process and to reduce prototyping costs.

"We had half the time to develop the Dolphin that we had for the original SEA-DOO Seascooter, which took 13 months," said Alex Kalogroulis, managing director of Daka Research, the group's design team based in the United Kingdom. "That meant we had no margin for error. For example, we only had a month to refine the original design so that it would be easy to manufacture. Since SolidWorks is intuitive, we could check for part interference on the screen with just a couple of mouse clicks without having to go through extra design steps."

COSMOSWorks (figure 2) helped the team troubleshoot problems such as gear tooth strength prior to production, Kalogroulis added, "So we could reduce time spent on prototyping and develop the product faster."

Figure 2. Daka engineers used COSMOSWorks to analyze the Dolphin design, pin-pointing problems prior to production.

Better Prototyping Saves Time
Kalogroulis and his team finished the Dolphin development in just a little more than six months. SolidWorks and COSMOSWorks allowed the engineers to dramatically reduce prototyping costs because they identified and fixed problems prior to building expensive prototypes.

"We had enough confidence in COSMOSWorks that we only needed to build one prototype," Kalogroulis said. "We had to build two for the SEA-DOO Seascooter using our previous CAD system, and the product-development process took twice as long."

SolidWorks eDrawings, an e-mail-enabled design collaboration tool, also helped accelerate time to market. With the engineering team based in the United Kingdom, group headquarters in Hong Kong and the toolmaker and product manufacturer in China, design collaboration was a challenge. But eDrawings allowed Kalogroulis to e-mail solid models to the toolmaker so its engineers could understand the nuances of the design.

"With eDrawings, we sent the toolmaker models of the design in progress. So its engineers not only provided feedback, but also let us know if the design could be manufactured cost-effectively," said Kalogroulis. "It also provided the toolmakers a chance to anticipate what queries we were going to raise, thus they could prepare accordingly. As a result, they could conduct mold analyses and suggest design changes, all of which saved time and eliminated the potential for rework."

This streamlined collaboration allowed Daka to cut development costs by 50%, reducing the time to build and test a rapid prototype to just three weeks.

A Winning Design
"Consumer product design emphasizes both style and function, and the Dolphin capitalizes on both," said SolidWorks Chief Operating Officer Jeff Ray. "Daka wanted to create a new market, and SolidWorks, COSMOSWorks and eDrawings helped them accomplish the goal."

The Dolphin won the Consumer Product Design Award at the 2004 Hong Kong Awards for Industry. It is now available at Toys 'R Us, Sharper Image, and Canadian Tire -- one of Canada's top retailers, which initially ordered 20,000 units.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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