ALCHEMA team visiting working sample manufacture factory
By Po-Fu, Lin (Problem Solver)
Maybe this is the feeling when hearing the first cry of your own baby!
After developing for over a year, we finally completed all the industry and mechanical design of Alchema, the first smart cider-making device, and started producing a working sample!
Working Sample is the model to “validate the real function and usability of the product.” Although we had tried our best to achieve all functions during industrial and mechanical design process, without testing a tangible model, how can we assure we didn’t make any mistake at the design stage?
Maybe you would ask us, why not just test when mass production? Well, that’s an expensive mistake to make. If you find out something is wrong after having molds, it would be very costly to remanufacture the molds, say, several thousand dollars, or even hundreds of thousand dollars if the product is big or complicated. Therefore, between the design stage and mass production, we must go through the process to test the working sample, which is relatively lower cost.
You might also wonder: what is CNC(Computer Numerical Control) ? What’s the difference between it and mass production? Why is a CNC working sample relatively low-cost? The way CNC works is cutting off unwanted parts from a bulk of raw material which is bigger than the component you desire to make, just like carving an ice sculpture from a big chunk of ice. On the other hand, mass production is injecting liquid material into molds, which has the notch of the shape of the wanted component. Then you wait for it to solidify. It’s similar to pouring water into a ice mold and freeze it. To make one piece of component, CNC surely costs more than mass production. However, the cost to manufacture the molds itself may cost ten times more than the material. That’s why we must make a working sample by CNC and validate the real function and usability before let it go into mass production.
We can roughly separate CNC process in three stages:
1.Cut the bulk material into stair-like shape which is similar to the desired figure:
It’s hard to precisely get the shape we want with only one shot. So, we should cut a rough figure first, in a stair-like style.
CNC start cutting the material
2. Smoothen the stairs to become coarse surface:
After several rounds of cutting, the curvature of the surface of the piece starts coming, but it’s still very coarse.
The curvature of the front door starts showing
3.Polish the surface before applying paint on it:
At last, polish the component with final treatment, then the manufacturer can paint it before assembling.
Polishing it into smooth surface
In about 2 or 3 weeks, our working sample will be finished! How exciting! We will share it with you as soon as we get it!
Finished CNC piece of the front door. Two sides.