Well, we’ve finally received our first prototype and to say we are excited is a massive understatement! It has been a hard road getting to this point but to see something tangible is a big boost.
We are aiming to have a truly Australian made, water and dust proof, ‘Expedition Grade’ product that provides real competition for the big boys with pricing, but also has a stack more usable features designed for people like us.
The box idea has now morphed from multiple 3D models on a computer screen, to its first real iteration and we are confident we are on the right track. The idea of prototyping is basically to prove your ideas and concepts are solid and work properly before you go and spend a lot of cash on expensive injection moulds.
In cases such as ours, designers and prototype makers will try to keep costs down and will make a version of the product in a similar material but with a different method of construction. In our case, as our product is quite large, the prototype is made from three or four solid blocks of ABS plastic that are each placed into a CNC router, shaped up, and then glued together in layers. The end result is not perfect and can be a bit rough, but it allows us to proof our ideas and design.
Our validation and testing process has now begun and we will test each feature in a step-by-step process and then put it under some serious stresses to see what breaks.
In testing so far we have been able to prove that the stacking features on the lid and base work well together and the tie-down points on the corners for ropes and turnbuckles also work nicely. The box is beautifully smooth and easy to clean out, handles those tall items like wine bottles and cereal boxes perfectly, and is really comfortable to carry due to the contoured grips. The dimensions are also sorted to fit better in the cargo bays of various 4wdrives, quadbikes and boats.
The latches work well but have given us some grief with pinching so we have engineered in a fix for the next prototype. We’ve also managed to break several of the hinge pins and found they just weren’t up to scratch. The water and dust seal is being upgraded to a larger version and then we can properly test the Gore-Tex pressure equalisation valve.
This means we are going back to computer modeling for more engineering refinements and strengthening and then will put the new upgrades to the torture test until we are happy with them. Once we are happy with it, we’ll build a second one to make sure all of the stacking and nesting features work together as we planned.
When it comes to colour selection we thought we might also do something like these above in addition to the usual Black or Grey.
At the end of the day, we are aiming to produce some Aussie made quality that will compete at the highest levels and yet be much more affordable to buy.