How We Helped Latrice Go From Concept to Production

By March 10, 20173D Printing

When Latrice first contacted SD3D in February of 2016 she had a vision for a new product that she simply couldn’t stop thinking about. At the time, she wasn’t sure if it was going to be a marketable product or just a one-off security device for her house. Her only certainty was that it was going to solve a major security flaw in her home which would allow her to sleep soundly at night and while she was away.

Like many of us, Latrice is a dog lover. To give her pets the flexibility to move in and out of the house freely, she installed a sliding glass pet door insert like the one shown here.

However, it quickly came to her attention that this new luxury for her pets came with a major security flaw. Since the sliding glass door is left in an open an unlocked position, it could easily be breached by intruders.
Common solutions to this problem are to simply stick a wooden block cut to size in between the end of the sliding glass door and the door jam. While this would seemingly prevent the door from being opened further, this solution was inadequate when it came to quelling Latrice’s concerns for her family’s safety. As an employee of the Department of Homeland Security, her husband was also unimpressed by the existing security solutions that were available. He demonstrated to her how he could easily breach the existing door jams within a matter of minutes and without alerting the occupants.

It quickly became clear to Latrice, who happened to be pursuing her MBA at the time, that there was a gap in the market that needed to be filled. She first envisioned an adjustable locking door jam which would provide significant pressure between the door and door jam. Breaching such a device would undoubtedly require significant effort and alert the occupants. To be confident that the occupants or neighbors were alerted, she also wanted to add an audible alarm which would be triggered if the door jam was disturbed. Without an engineering or design background, she turned to SD3D to help her bring her concept to life.

The SD3D engineering team first met with Latrice to understand her project requirements and provide some suggestions that could potentially improve her product further. To keep costs down, the team created a staged deployment strategy for her which started with developing a proof-of-concept prototype that satisfied her basic requirements. Within two months of that initial meeting, Latrice had a prototype that she could bring home and test out. After spending some time with the prototype and getting feedback from other pet owners, she decided it was time to move forward with commercializing the project.

As Latrice gathered feedback, it became clear how the final product should look and function. She also came up with a name for the product, the PJ Guard. The PJ Guard would be a premium security solution for security sliding doors or windows in an open position. Functional security wasn’t enough, the product needed to look more secure than any device on the market to deter intruders from even pursuing access to the property once they saw it. The device also needed to be able to provide remote alerts to the homeowner to provide peace of mind while they were away, at work or on vacation.

Discussions continued with the SD3D engineering team until a final featureset was agreed upon. The production PJ Guard would have the following features:

  • Fully adjustable range for universal use in sliding door jams
  • Locking mechanism capable of holding at least 50 pounds vertically
  • Rigid and lightweight construction
  • High-precision accelerometer based motion sensing
  • Programmable siren
  • Wifi enabled with custom app for controlling/monitoring the device
  • Adjustable motion sensitivity
  • Remote alerts via phone call and SMS
  • Completely wireless operation
  • Battery and solar powered for up to 14 days of continuous unattended operation

The product also needed to be cost effective to produce an initial run of 500 units, including the amortized cost of tooling. Meeting this last requirement was critical for Latrice to be able to market the product over KickStarter, which she chose as the crowdfunding and pre-order platform for the PJ Guard.

The SD3D Engineering team was able to design an assembly that would meet all of her functional requirements while still satisfying her budgetary constraints. By leveraging SD3D’s automated 3D printing workflow and incorporating lean additive manufacturing design practices, the engineering team reduced the tooling cost for the PJ guard by over $30,000. This corresponded to a drastic cost reduction of $60 per unit when amortized across 500 preorders. Additionally, Latrice decided that she would join SD3D’s high volume production membership program to further reduce the cost of the 3D printed parts on the PJ Guard. In all, Latrice calculated that her costs through SD3D would be at least $100 per unit cheaper for the initial production run than if she went with any other production partner. For Latrice, the path forward was clear.

After everything was said and done, it took exactly twelve months to take Latrice from her initial concept to a production ready product. Throughout the entire project she was able to maintain control of her budget and timeline to ensure each stage was completed to her satisfaction before continuing. As the design phase progressed from initial prototype to the production ready product, Latrice knew she had made the right decision to come to SD3D. Instead of exhausting her resources on contracting independent electrical, mechanical and software engineers to piece the project together, Latrice was able to rely on the expertise of a vetted project engineering team that could help her understand the full costs involved with pushing the project through each major milestone. With the help of SD3D, Latrice was able to avoid the pitfalls of product design and manufacturing without breaking a sweat.

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