To get final input of the right amount of bit holders for the gadget I made one last plaster mould.
Only bits The flashlight was no longer with us. It had given me a heap of problems with quality, packaging, pricing, battery and usefulness issues. Now it was time to go from prototyping to production but I had to decide how many bits the drill bit holder should have. Time for one last prototype.
For the Lampowitz moulds I had huge problems with the holes for the bits. The small plaster “pins” for theese holes were braking off. And this time I needed ten pins in each half of the mould = a total of twenty brittle ”pins”! So I made a really simple clay dummy to cast in the plaster, cut the plaster in two with a saw and simply drilled holes to glue small metal “pins” into. It wasn’t pretty, but it was faster and worked good enough.
I just needed one prototype so I did it rather hasty. Unfortunately silicone is extremely fluent and it ran straight through all the cracks of my poorly made mould into a elastic puddle on the table. Problem fixed with some plastic foam (the grey stuff on the right plaster mould).
Now the silicone was kept inside my mould but air bubbles ruined a few more attempts. Big pieces of the mould were chipped away for every failed attempt and I had to glue stuff back on all the time. Finally I got one functional prototype. It would have saved me lots of time and effort by doing the job properly to start with.
The main feature of my flashlight holder was the flashlight. It turned out to be a much better product when I removed the main feature.
During the prototyping process I added small drill bit holders to the rubber band. It quickly became obvious the bit holders were much more needed than the flashlight. When the flashlight problems became overwhelming the Lampowitz evolved into Gearfix – a drill bit holder.
It was hard for my ego to finally realise the original idea was bad. Could I really remove the main feature of my product? Yes! The flashlight was obsolete when I started but I had a hard time getting that into my head.
If I from the beginning had come to terms that Lampowitz was rather crappy I probably would have stopped there. Clearly, you don’t have to have a great idea to start with. It might just transform into something completely useful if you’re open minded enough.
It soon turned out that my rather crappy idea transformed into something great and the fear of sneaky bastards almost paralysed me again.
The flashlight was working fine. I even added a small tongue to direct the light beam with. But when I added small drill bit holders something happened. The need for a flashlight is limited and the drill bit holders turned out to be extremely useful.
By adding drill bit holders this gadget suddenly got a lot more useful. The idea of having the bits attached to the machine wasn’t new. But doing it this way was both more versatile and completely unique.
Suddenly, having a really good product was frightening. This was no longer a simple learning experience and messing things up wasn’t an option any more.
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.
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.