From stabiLens to stediLens
stabiLens was a handmade cottage industry product and as such the production was labour-intensive and very time consuming.
There was no way we could have supplied a large order without major time delays.
To crown it, a company in New York, used our stabiLens name to launch a totally unrelated photographic product.
In our ignorance we had not reserved the stabiLens.com URL and were faced with a potential conflict on the digital marketing front. We then decided to bite the bullet and move from a relatively unsophisticated handmade product to a modern injection moulding product.
We also decided to change the name to stediLens and reserve all the digital URLs.
In for a penny, in for a pound. We hired professionals to establish the new brand and production processes:
- Welma – Design and Digital Marketing
- Mark – Covenant Tool and Die – Product and Mould design/manufacture
- Basil – ADV Plastics – Injection moulding
- Charles – DD Group SA – Box printing
- Letitia – Beata Promotional Printers – stediLens printing
- Jacques – 3D Replica – Silicon inserts
Where to start?
Many hours, many meetings with Covenant to get the first drawings. A solid ball would not work in injection moulding as it would shrink when it cools. The genius of Caleb at Covenant to design a ball that has even wall thicknesses in all dimensions and the strength to carry a heavy lens.
Then discussions and meetings around how to do away with all the cutting and glueing of components i.e. reduce handmade to a minimum.
Then discussions and meetings on what to use as a window insert. Rubber foam for the window and rubber feet for the base were the original ideas.
Everybody is happy.
The drawings were done and accepted, and a first 3-D model was printed at the University of the Free State.
Big excitement. Real sample of a what it will feel and look like.
We get round rubber feet for the base unit, we experiment, and they don’t work. Back to the drawing board. Maybe we must use silicone.
The silicon insert works perfectly – except for a bubble when inserting them. New design, new print, and it works!
The original Window unit insert was glued foam rubber. No more of that. We design a rubber, foldable insert; it’s not great.
We try silicone and it’s too floppy. We strengthen it with a plastic insert, much better.
Then we decide to cast the silicone into the window unit. New drawings, new 3-D prints and it works!
We want a modern, sturdy, expensive looking box.
Ideas, arguments, meetings and finally agreement. What box to use? What finish? What size?
More ideas, arguments, meetings and again agreement.
Sample box made. Nice but too big, will cost a fortune to ship.
Smaller size, still looking good, agreement. Then eventually, injection moulding.
Four trials and every time something was not right, and the mould had to go back for tweaking. What a process!
Finally, in the last week of July the whole act came together. The product was moulded, printed and inserts cast. The boxes were printed. A first order, 100 window units to Canon. What a joy and relief.