Plinth - a stable pocket-sized stand for ANY Tablet / iPad
The ultimate stand for any tablet, smartphone and even books, which deploys at the touch of a button and fits in your pocket.
Tablets have changed the way we interacts with computers, and new uses and possibilities are being discovered every day.
Although tablets get better and better, no one has really cracked how to position them on a desk, table or worktop in an instant, easy to use way, that is as portable and flexible as the tablet itself.
Why did I design the Plinth?
I carry my iPad with me wherever I go - everywhere! I've been using one since they first came out in 2010, and have tried all sorts of cases and stands. But no stand I've found offered me the portability, speed and usefulness that I wanted, which is why I set out to design my own.
To me, a tablet is at its best when it is a simple, clean form that I can pick up and use instantly; I wanted a stand that is as unobtrusive in my pocket as possible, and which is ready for use immediately. If I'm going to carry a stand at all, I'd like it to do all the things I need - from typing an email, sketching design ideas, to watching a movie and surfing the web. I wanted a stand to do all of that, and more!
I also wanted a support which would be incredibly stable - it's annoying to be typing on a surface which moves around. Early prototypes proved to me the importance of supporting the tablet as near to the corners as possible, so the idea of the flip-out wings was born.
Once I had resolved the design of the basic functional necessities of size and stability, other desirable features begged to be added - such as instant deployment at the press of a button (it's fun, too!), single-handed set-up and the ability to hold the tablet steady regardless of the case it is in. My design will hold any tablet, in any case - either portrait or landscape. It's also really cool for holding your phone (maybe you should buy two?!), and even works with notebooks and hardback books (as long as they'll sit in the channel).
It even works really well when there isn't a desk or table nearby - like on the train, or sofa at home.
Over a year ago, having tried several stands for my iPad, I decided to design one which was super-stable but would also fit in my pocket - something I couldn't find on the market.
Being a product designer with my own 3D printer, I played around with a number of ideas, each of which I modelled into CAD and built as a prototype. These taught me the importance of widely spaced rubber feet as a key feature.
The next challenge was how to achieve a range of supporting angles which had sufficient strength within an overall footprint and which would still be unobtrusive to carry around.
By the time I had got these features resolved, the importance of single handed, instant deployment was demanding resolution. Once the springs were added to the design, people started saying 'Wow!' when I showed it to them. At that point, I started exploring potential ways of getting the design into production.
This is the first time I've tried Kickstarter. I'm excited at the potential to bring my idea into production quickly and without complication, and am really enjoying designing a product how I think it should be - with no compromises.
The working prototype (shown in the video and photos above) was made by the Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing at Exeter University. It has confirmed that the design is amazingly useful - far better than any other stand I have tried. There are a number of innovative features to the design and I have applied for full patent protection.
I want the Plinth to be the best it can possibly be and I have therefore detailed the design as a two-shot moulded product (like most modern toothbrushes). This enables qualities like moulded-in rubber feet and soft-touch protective surfaces to prevent slipping and movement, and prevent scratches. It also makes the product more versatile in terms of colour schemes, as shown below.
I am lucky to have known and worked for many years with an excellent toolmaker and moulding Company called Hayden Products, based in Maidenhead (near London). I have been working with them to optimise the design for 2-shot moulding. Hayden are fully equipped to mould, assemble and package the products ready for shipment.
Two-shot mould tooling for this product will cost over £20,000, to which we must add funding for the design and production of packaging, trialling and optimising first mouldings, and then initial production.
Injection moulding of plastic parts is a fascinating process, and Hayden Products have agreed to allow Kickstarters sponsoring £150 or more to join me for a tour of the toolroom and see this product actually being made.
Timescales and work still to be done
First model 3D printed.
Patent applied for.
Prove-out prototype built by CALM, Exeter.
Kickstarter project launched.
CAD work to be completed.
Obtain final costings for bought-in components.
Liaise with company to complete design and production of packaging.
Early February 2014
Commission design and production of injection mould tools (6 weeks).
Seek orders from retail distributors.
Mid March 2014
First tool trials.
Product testing and possible slight modification of moulds to optimise
function, strength and performance.
Mid to late April 2014
Fulfil rewards to Kickstarters.
Injection mould tooling - £23,000
Continuing patent costs - £2,000
Packaging design and set-up costs - £5,000
Cost of producing and posting rewards to backers - £5,000
Risks and challenges
I have been designing successful products for over 20 years, and have chosen to work with a toolmaker and moulder that I know and trust - and with whom I can work quickly and efficiently. I've therefore asked Hayden Products, in Maidenhead (UK) to ensure this product gets the best start in life that it can.
The biggest challenge will be to raise such a large sum of money (the tooling is very expensive) with very small pledge amounts. We therefore need a LOT of people to join the project, which will largely depend on how popular it becomes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)