I built a mould to make elastic prototypes of my flashlight holder. It gave me a good picture of the manufacturing process.
Childs play As a youngster I moulded small tin figurines to play with. Well, in lack of money I mostly melted lead bullets I got for free from the local rifle club.
An engineer friend of mine demonstrated how he made silicone moulds for his machine parts. I could clearly do it the other way around and pour soft hobby silicone into a home made mould and make elastic prototypes.
Eventually I managed to make a functional plaster mould to pour my silicone solution into. There were lots of problems getting the silicone out of the mould without ruining it. The blue colour you see inside is glossy paint to protect the plaster. Otherwise the solidified silicone sticks to the plaster breaks it apart. There was a lot of trial and error before I got reasonable results from this one.
Are you special or very special? Can you distinguish between good and bad advice?
You are not an expert of everything, so input from others is essential. Ask many stupid questions and count on the experts to put you down. Don’t be discouraged and make sure you understand their point of view. Even the experts don’t know everything, but they are experts of something you aren’t.
Film of a very special guy.
I’ve often experienced when receiving advice that the expert goes out of their field of expertise and mainly express their personal opinion of your venture. Gather the facts, ignore their personal opinions and evaluate the information. Don’t expect them to completely understand what you’re doing. You probably don’t completely understand it yourself.
If you’re very special
Sometimes you get blinded by your brilliance. If everyone*, friends and family excluded, tell you it won’t work. You really have to question yourself more than once why, how and by what degree it won’t work. Perhaps you can improve your crazy solution into something really useful. But don’t quit your day job just yet.
Often the issue is that you identified a real problem but your solution isn’t perfect, not commercially viable or is just plain stupid. Even if you prove that it works, will anyone buy it?
* Most people will actually try to be nice even when they think your idea stinks. Listen carefully to them who plead you to quit your insane venture.
With the flashlight holder concept working and no money to spend I had to figure out a cheap way to prototype this gadget. An empty cookie jar was the base to my first mould.
Free ingredients From stuff I had in my basement.
Plexiglass (From the shower cabin we trashed over ten years ago. I knew it would come in handy some day!)
Plastic ginger bread cookie jar (Annas pepparkakor)
A leftover piece linoleum mat (Wood imitation)
Deodorant (To shape that floppy linoleum)
Hot glue gun
Hobby silicone (Very cheap ;-))
Tricky to shape
The theory was still as the meat grinder solution. I made a loaf in silicone to slice as bread as in the previous sketch but its really hard to cut elastic material. The other problem was to get all these plastic mould parts to stand straight. The deodorant was put inside the linoleum mat for support.
Great stuff, you just mix two components and pour it in your mould. Normally people use silicone mix to make elastic moulds for decoration plaster gnomes. The runny consistence gave me problems with future generation prototypes but right now it worked perfectly.
It’s a good idea to consider the production in the early stages. Even if I was in the forefront of ignorance and missed the mark this was a fun brain exercise.
Work in progress
This was at the same time I sketched some Alternative solutions of the Flashlight holder with different sized holes. It was in the beginning and I wondered how this holder was supposed to be manufactured. This sketch resembles a meat grinder squeezing out the rubber to be cut in appropriate lengths. I cleverly added a rotating logotype stamp on the side.
Now its very clear to me you don’t manufacture it this way. But it still was a good brain exercise and fun to look back on. Eventually I got it right and no harm was done.
In the early stages I searched alternatives for my rubber flashlight holder. The hand gun market seemed perfect. But how could I fuse together guns with my peaceful product?
Rubber only stretches so far
My rubber flashlight holder was supposed to fit any hand held drill or screwdriver. It couldn’t fit on a thin rifle barrel, I had to come up with a solution.
Cut the slack
I figured out that it would be more versatile by giving the user some choices. Fitting the rubber holder with three different sized holes made it able to fit more devices. You could easily cut off the holders you didn’t need.
Crude but effective
Perhaps I’m a bit too pragmatic? The function was ok, but it was a ugly solution. Back to the drawing board and come up with something better.