Feature Stories Archive
Manufacturing Snowballs with CAD, Rapid
Spring Brook Mfg.
and ATI used CAD and rapid prototyping to refine the
snowshoe designs and reduce the
prototyping played a critical role in the design
and marketing of the Saguache snowshoe, saving the
company six to 12 months of process
When Spring Brook
Mfg., Grand Junction, CO, finalized the design concept of
its new Saguache snowshoe, the company turned to rapid
prototyping to streamline the development process and
accelerate market introduction.
Hebron, KY-based Accelerated Technologies Inc. (ATI), a full
service rapid prototype development company, Spring Brook
was able to create and produce the new product in nine
CAD and RP
The design concept
of Saguache was first sketched by Spring Brook in AutoCAD.
As the concepts were refined to a workable design, Spring
Brook moved the design data to a SolidWorks' solid modeling
Spring Brook took
the SolidWorks model to L.L. Bean, and the two companies
developed an agreement to jointly develop and market the
Within three days
after finalizing the agreement, Spring Brook commissioned
ATI to produce two selective laser sintering (SLS)
prototypes of the snowshoe deck. The SLS prototypes were
fabricated from DuraForm GF, a glass-filled polyamide chosen
for its high definition features, smooth surface finish and
mechanical integrity. The models were later used to display
the product line at the first industry trade show of the
and testing functional models of the complete assembly,
Spring Brook turned its attention to the bindings.
Using the SLS
prototypes, ATI fabricated a room temperature vulcanization
(RTV) mold for the snowshoe deck. The rigid urethane
castings were produced in a translucent green.
ATI utilized rapid
prototyping in conjunction with RTV molding, a process which
the company says is a fast and economical solution for
prototype quantities of up to 100 parts. Within a short
period of time, functional Saguache prototypes were produced
for testing and a complete design review that included an
evaluation of the aesthetic appeal.
(SLA) was used to build a master pattern to create an RTV
rubber mold for the bindings. The first urethane prototypes
were cast in a Shore A 80 material that mimicked the
soft-touch, low durometer production bindings. After
evaluating these prototypes, a second set of binds was cast
in Shore A 90 material to increase the binding's
the Prototypes to the test
shoes were fully field tested. This "on-snow" functional
review proved that the design delivered the targeted
characteristics of being lightweight, rugged and functional.
After the functional review, Spring Brook released the
tooling order for the snowshoe decks. The design information
was delivered through IGES files which were exported from
SolidWorks and transmitted to the injection molder. The IGES
files were used to design the tooling and generate the
cutter paths. The first injection-molded decks were
delivered within six weeks.
There was one
positive surprise when the the first decks were reviewed:
the chevron pattern of the traction ribs was highly visible
through the translucent Lexan. According to Spring Brook,
the dark, shadow-like appearance of the ribs accentuated the
modern, high-tech look it had wanted to achieve
played a critical role in the design of the Saguache
snowshoe, said Todd Grimm, director of marketing for ATI.
"Without this technology, the development process and market
introduction would have been delayed by six to 12 months."
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