Pic: The paper prototype for a tin put-put boat.
After a group chat, we noticed there were very steep obstacles to tackle when dealing with the put-put boat kit.
The fire problem was first shrugged off because of the presence of water while the boat was in use.
Then our product designer Shim started calling manufacturers who specialised in diecutting, stamping and water cutting so we could produce foldable metal nets in tin/aluminium. One of the quotes for 1000 minimum quantity was £4.50pp (est.) When we enquired about making a single diecutting tool for the net, they quoted us £2,100 estimate. This was becoming less of a lean startup of around 10-50 cheaply made kits, into a huge investment.
Johanna was also having trouble creating a net from metal that would be harmless when folded and secured in place. Sheet metal is generally quite dangerous, expensive and difficult to fold correctly.
We then became worried that this scenario would reoccur every month if we didn’t find a solution. After a chat with Ben, ex-foundry member and seasoned product-designer, he suggested that we should stick to a single manufacturing method. That way, we wouldn’t have to deal with several different manufacturing companies and conduct a long list of quotes every time we created a new product.
A single method, such as laser cutting, would simplify the process. Then, we would think of the lesson we’d like to teach, think of the medium/toy to teach it, and then see how we can construct it from flat pieces and store-bought components.
This also makes producing different iterations of the product quicker as it would involve editing a net on Adobe Illustrator and sending to the machine again.
This also eliminated the problem of bulky parts fitting into the “Large Letter” sized box we’ve created, but we’ll see what the future throws at us.
Now our plan is to create a neat laser-cut version from wood which is still fun to create and play with.
The mechanism is being discussed- motors are an option, though electricity and water is a nono. We’ve seen balloon-powered propulsion but everyone thinks it’s not the most elegant solution. Elastic-powered boats are charming in their own way though kinetic energy runs out fairly quickly.
The direction we’re going for seems to be a New Orleans style paddle steamer. Tomorrow morning we should see the first prototype.