Nov 15, 2016 | By Tess

If you live in a city, chances are you’ll be all too familiar with the woes and frustrations of finding a parking spot downtown. More than just a source of frustration, however, driving around in circles looking for parking is actually detrimental to the environment, as more emissions are needlessly put out into the air. Fortunately, a Dutch startup called PARKEAGLE is hoping to making parking easier for drivers through an innovative IoT system that uses smart sensors and 3D printing to help guide drivers to available spots.

PARKEAGLE has devised a system wherein a network of smart wireless sensors are installed in parking spots and can connect automatically to a driver’s smartphone or even directly to their car, letting them know where there is an available spot. Founded in 2014, the Dutch startup is still in the process of developing its innovative and much anticipated sensor system, but is receiving much positive acclaim. We can see why.

From its beginnings, PARKEAGLE has incorporated 3D printing into its development process to prototype versions of its smart sensor encasement. Initially, the company turned to SLS 3D printing through a service, but found that the process was costly and too time consuming for prototyping. At this point, PARKEAGLE reached out to Dutch 3D printing software startup Printr to help them prototype and further advance their innovative parking sensor.

Printr, founded in 2014, has become known for its comprehensive 3D printing platform Formide, as well as its accompanying tools The Element, a USB device which wirelessly connects your 3D printer to Formide, and Katana, a free slicing app. In teaming up with PARKEAGLE, Printr was able to help the startup create physical models of its designs to show to potential investors while further developing and optimizing the sensor enclosure design.

As a parking sensor device, the 3D printed enclosure had to meet certain criteria, such as being durable and able to withstand heavy loads, being water resistant, being portable, and of course, being easy to install. Initial prototypes for the enclosure were made up of three parts, though after some consultation with Printr, were reduced to only two parts. With Printr’s guidance, the Dutch parking startup was also able to switch from SLS to FDM 3D printing, which helped to cut down on both production costs and overall production time.

The developers were also able to optimize the sensor enclosure design for FDM 3D printing and account for the model to be printed in durable PLA plastic. According to the company, the 3D printed prototype also allowed for the inclusion of electronic components so that PARKEAGLE would more sufficiently test its product and the efficiency of various prototype designs. In the end, the startup found that a wide and low enclosure was the most effective as it distributed weight more efficiently and was thus able to resist it.

PARKEAGLE recently participated in Get in the Ring’s startup pitch competition, which took place in Amsterdam this past September. The startup also gained additional attention at the Rotterdam Mobility Lab, where it won another pitching contest. So, while it might be a while before you can benefit from PARKEAGLE’s innovative 3D printed parking sensors automatically guiding you to a free parking spot, the startup is well on its way to readying the product for commercialization.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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