Showerbuddy shower chair and accessories project
Showerbuddy hired Pro-Dev to design, engineer and manufacture their upcoming premium range of shower chairs for disabled people with limited to major mobility issues. The product range consists of three shower chairs and 12 accessories.
The project began with a comprehensive discussion on the design requirements and the direction the brand was to take. We decided that there needed to be a platform of three products sharing common parts, that stand out from a design perspective and be multi-functional. They needed to be easy to use and developed within the agreed budget. About 30% of the features designed were to be unique to the industry sector and the accessories had complex requirements that needed to stand out from other products on the market.
The next step was to define the scope of the project in a detailed 3-page document that spelled out the form, function, cost and compliance requirements. The scope document made a good starting point but constantly evolved throughout the project.
We then broke down the overall project into manageable chunks and started the initial design work (conceptual stage). During this stage we designed sketches or CAD concepts to present to the client and seek feedback. We did this for a number of iterations, eventually settling on what the client needed and was happy with.
The next step to was detail the parts and assemblies to make a physical prototype to present to the client. This gave them an opportunity to again see, feel and review the design, look and function to see if that was what they wanted or if any improvements or changes were needed. We went through this multiple times before the design was approved for tooling and manufacturing.
This is where we detailed the CAD and created 2D drawings which were used in the manufacturing process. Releasing parts for tooling/manufacturing is the most critical step in a project such as this because large investments are involved and care needs to be taken.
The above images show the sketch concepts, the CAD 3D drawing, the 3D printed prototypes of individual parts, the complete product and the 2D CAD drawing.
When making the complete product prototype (shown above), we used our workshop skills to machine the many 3D printed and handmade parts needed. Except the wheels, all the 3D printed or handmade parts were manufactured in our studio workshop. We used plastic, metal, plywood, and other materials to create a looks-like prototype, including some works-like features.
When we presented these life-sized full product prototypes to the client it gave them an opportunity to review it and gain a feel for the functions. This all occurred for a very small outlay and without any large amount of tooling or manufacturing. This is one of the major specialties of Pro-Dev – providing this kind of R&D product development service at a very affordable cost.
Once the client was happy with the prototype’s form and function, we moved on to manufacturing. We have been using both Pro-Dev and the client’s networks of factories following discussions and agreement that this was the best course of action as we were playing to each supply chain’s strengths.
We have been working closely with all the factories involved to ensure the highest quality standard. Independent compliance testing labs are also used to ensure the products meet compliance requirements for all the markets in which the product is going to be sold (USA, EU, AU, NZ, Canada).
This project demonstrated Pro-Dev’s full suite of services and how a potential client can best use us. Clients can work with us up to CAD stage, to prototype stage or use our full range of services up to and including manufacturing.