July 29, 2015 | By Alec

Product developers often dream of Kickstarter success, but few stories are as inspiring as that of the Coolest Cooler. Started in July 2014, it was successfully funded through Kickstarter within 36 hours – before setting the Kickstarter record of highest sum pledged at more than 13 million USD. Who doesn’t dream of a result like that? While there has been a few delays, the Coolest Cooler has just begun shipping this week, while a lot more has also been revealed about the extensive 3D printing development process.

The Coolest Cooler, for those of you who don’t remember, is essentially a portable party machine disguised as a cooler. Not only can it cool your drinks, it’s also a cocktail station, a 21st century stereo set and an all-round container for everything you need to start a party anywhere. While that sounds fantastic, few (including its developer Ryan Grepper) imagined it would explode the way it did. In a way, this tremendous success also made the entire project far more challenging, as Ryan had hoped for a few hundred backers – not thousands. Especially in the case of a complex cooler, with 55 parts needing development, the challenge was a big one.

Fortunately, Ryan already extensively used 3D printing while inventing stuff, and again turned to the technology when faced with his previously set deadlines for shipping. Things became even more complex when the Coolest Cooler team was approached by Time Magazine to be part of the 25 Best Inventions of the Year just weeks after to Kickstarter campaign had finished.

Without a product to show Time Magazine, Ryan and his team decided to team up with high quality 3D printing experts FATHOM. Based in Oakland, FATHOM specialized in high quality, high speed design iteration and prototype fabrication. As the FATHOM team explained on their website, they not only assisted the Coolest Cooler team with making an advanced prototype that looks good, but they also supplied them with the 3D printing equipment to continue their high-speed development.

Perhaps most remarkable, is that the model visible above was created at a hitherto unseen speed: instead of weeks or months of prototyping, it was created in just a few days. That includes 55 3D printed functional parts, including components for the Coolest Cooler’s Bluetooth Speaker and USB Charger, the Rechargeable Blender, the LED Lid Light, the Gear Tie-Down and Wide Tires, as well as options for the plates, cutting board, knife and bottle opener.

Now Ryan had been working on a large number of CAD files that had gone through various (3D printed) iterations already, but taking those to physical prototypes in a matter of days (and looking good enough for a photoshoot) is quite a challenge. ‘The FATHOM team had to consider the most effective ways to simplify the creation of the Coolest Cooler to meet such a tight deadline. Over the course of eight hours, Ryan and FATHOM’s experts worked diligently to assemble the Coolest Cooler and create what would be an exact replica of the final design, complete with high end finishing and functional electric components,’ they explain on the FATHOM website.

Aside from extensive 3D printed and CNC milled parts, they also modified a series of stock components, assembled parts with snap fits and sonic welding, installed the functional electronic components, did the finishing and processing work and provided the paint job. And at the end of the day, Ryan was able to take a complete 3D printed Coolest Cooler on a plane to New York for the photoshoot with Time Magazine.

Now that the finished product is finally ready to be shipped to all those loyal supporters out there, Ryan is doubtlessly very relieved, though he already told MakerBot that 3D printing was a core technology behind the Coolest Cooler. ‘Without MakerBot, 3D printing and hours of fun in the garage, [the Coolest Cooler] would not exist. Your real expenditure once you have your 3D printer is the cost of raw plastic, a bit of electricity and time. When you compare that to any other prototyping process, it’s a huge saving. It has never been easier than now,’ he says. Check out the interview below.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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unknown wrote at 8/2/2015 1:16:42 AM:

this is amazing

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