R&R Racing Products - CNC Fixture Controller
What is the first thing that needs to happen after an idea for a new product is born? In most cases the answer is the creation of a prototype. Relying on the imaginations of people to fill in the blanks of a rendering or computer model has never proven itself to be a very successful method of presenting a new product idea. To make an impact, you must present a high quality “Looks like, Feels like” prototype. This prototype will be a valuable tool that can quickly and easily explain your new product. The following is an example of a prototype that was made in less than 6 weeks to be displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas. A client contracted Blue Sparq to design and fabricate a prototype of a new consumer product idea. The client only had a simple 2D rendering of the new product idea.
From this rendering, I was asked to build a functioning “Looks like, Feels like” prototype that would be displayed at CES. With only 6 weeks to do the full mechanical, electrical, and software design there was no time to waste. Getting it right the first time was extremely important! I have always believed that having the right tools for the job not only ensures high quality results, but also makes the job fun. I started this project by making a simple solid model using SolidWorks, which is my favorite solid modeling mechanical CAD software. It is important to start with the overall outer dimensions specified by the customer. This rough model gave me the space available for the electronics. With the product’s functionality in mind, I designed the electrical schematic Using Altium Designer, which is an electrical CAD software that has a connection to SolidWorks. From this schematic I moved into the circuit board layout. At this point I was designing both, the circuit board and mechanical enclosure simultaneously. Having a background in mechanical and electrical engineering not only sped things up, but really helped with the overall accuracy of the design. The positioning of electrical components such as the LCD panel, USB port, Ethernet port, and power jack were very critical since the holes in the plastic enclosure must line up perfectly to match. Once the initial solid models of all the parts were complete, an assembly was made. SolidWorks really makes the design come to life, and exposes any potential interferences or issues.
From this point, I released my PCB design to Advanced Circuits. Their ability to make the circuit board in one day makes them one of the best tools in my rapid prototyping toolbox. The capacitive touch keypad, which really makes this product futuristic, was made by RapidKeypads.com, a rapid prototype capacitive touch switch design service capable of providing keypads and electronics in 5 days or less. During the production of the PCB and keypad, I turned to my own rapid prototyping equipment. We used our Stratasys FDM rapid prototyping machine to make the plastic enclosure parts.
Once the new PCB and keypad arrived, I hand soldered the components to the board and test fit it the electronics assembly into the RP plastic enclosure. It was a perfect fit!
The next stop was the software department. The software engineer had already started writing the software before the hardware was finished. Once the electronics arrived, it was just a matter of time before the software engineer could finish the project.
While the software engineer was finalizing the code, I took our prototype to the next level. It was very important that we present a “Looks like, Feels like” prototype to limit the amount of questions pertaining to the look and feel of a product. Now that we had good fitting mechanical parts, it was time to have the parts finished. The trim ring in the rendering was chrome, and the enclosure was a glossy black, so the parts were sent to get plated and painted. The results were stunning; the prototype looked like a real product that we had purchased from a store! The prototype was displayed proudly at the Consumer Electronics Show, and its look and feel spoke for itself.
UltraSonic Power Corporation
UltraSonic was in need of a helping hand with their existing user-interface controller, with Blue Sparq, they achieved a more beautiful and easy-to-control interface.More Projects
Blue Sparq, Inc. incorporated its high speed rapid prototyping capability with its Rapid Keypads - Capacitive Touch Keypad Technology to produce this stunning prototype in just a couple of weeks! The mechanical parts were first made using the Blue Sparq FDM machine and then the final parts were produced by a high precision SLA machine. Finally, the parts were given a gorgeous high end paint job!More Projects
Vagabond Vending LLC, partnered with Blue Sparq to create three types of telemetry devices. The CDMA, GSM, and Wi-Fi modules.More Projects
Lighted Capacitive Touch Keypads for Consumer Products
Using our translucent conductive ink and projected lighting technique we were able to acheive a bright and uniform keypad lighting. Our customer wanted the look and feel of an iPhone without using a full LCD touchscreen. Blue Sparq was given the task of creating this "Looks Like, Feels Like" prototype for the consumer electronic show in only 3 weeks! We exceeded our customer's expectations!Learn More
Capacitive Touch Interface
Blue Sparq was contracted to give this exercise equipment a new look and feel. This was acheived by changing the old fashioned mechanical membrane switch keypads over to the new Capacitive Touch Technology found in the latest smart phones and tablets. After the prototype development was complete, this customer expected the production of these new touch panels to be done overseas, however we were able to beat the foreign pricing and keep this a MADE IN AMERICA product!More Projects
Selective Lighting - Glass Overlay
This is a single button capacitive touch keypad with a dead fronted glass overlay. This keypad has 2 icons that are controlled by the main controller. When the button is pressed, the LOCK icon appears. When the button is pressed again, the LOCK icon will turn off and the UNLOCK icon will be displayed.More Projects
Foy Automation Control
Flying by foy contracted Blue Sparq to give their automation controller a new look and feel. They wanted to integrate special custom touch sliders and a touch screen with mechanical buttons. We added special dead front back lighting and indicator lights to give this panel a very modern look. This control panel communicates via ethernet as well as USB.More Projects
DreamWorks SKG contracted Blue Sparq, Inc. to build a capacitive touch panel that has media controls for their mobile kiosksMore Projects
Mission: Build a beautiful, state of the art, interface for a high tech vending machine.
Project Spec: Full USB Capacitive Touch Keypad using Selective LED Lighting for each button. Custom Dead Fronted Graphic Overlay made of 0.125" thick Glass. Custom RFID Reader with USB interface
Explosion Proof Capacitive/Film Method Keypad
Half Inch 0.5" Thick Glass used for an explosion proof capacitive touch keypad interface. The user now can touch the outside of this thick glass window to control the explosion proof device. RapidKeypads.com can use its rapid prototype capability to make a capacitive touch keypad that can sense through any non conductive material.
In this case, the capacitive touch system is sensing through 0.5" thick glass. This is perfect for an explosion proof control panel. In this demonstration you can see our multi touch system in action.