The first step in any project is defining and communicating what you want to create.
Recently a client came to us and asked us to produce an addition to their tradeshow display. They provided a couple photos of similar displays and even drew up a spec sheet showing the approximate size and look they wanted to achieve. In this case we are making flag toppers, with a pyramid base.
- They must be easy to transport, setup, and remove
- They must have a minimum of fasteners and parts
- They must be durable
- They must be as lightweight as possible
Producing the initial concept and design
With the basic idea in our hands we set about coming up with a way to produce them. We sat down and brainstormed several different ways to build the pyramid – Metal, plastic, welded, glued, taped, folded, interior frame, no frame, combinations of materials, etc. After several discussions we decided to try folding Sintra and creating inner bracing that will give it strength and structure while also guiding the flag pole in to place. It was decided that the flag pole would be made of thin wall aluminum or PVC. Aluminum is preferred as the final finish is durable. The base will attach using locating pins or magnets.
Moving on to prototyping
For this project we needed to test our concept before producing the final pieces. This means we need to cut some sample parts to identify problems with the materials and methods of construction. After we dial in the best methods for cutting the parts we want we move ahead and construct a full prototype. Some prototypes go through multiple stages – testing fitment, cutting new parts, adjusting and repeating. The prototype has some blemishes and some fitment issues to correct in the final parts, but overall it shows how the pyramid will be constructed and it provides a real world test for our design.
After a successful prototype is produced and all issues are fixed or noted for the final production we call the client in to inspect the prototype. The client was happy and we got the go ahead for final production.
Now that the client has signed off we need to get to work.
- The final materials, tools (bits), and parts are ordered and inspected.
- The toolpaths are adjusted to reflect issues found in prototyping and are arranged to maximize material yield for the final quantities.
- The production area and shop are cleaned and prepped for work.
Work begins and the parts are being cut. As each part is finished it is cleaned, trimmed (if needed) and inspected.
Back in the production room assembly begins. Using the knowledge from our prototype construction we have already developed methods for ensuring proper construction. Work progresses in stages, the parts are prepped and assembled in order.
With all the individual assemblies completed we move on to final assembly.