About this project
Plinth is the essential companion to your tablet computing life. It can go with you anywhere, and you’ll hardly notice it in your pocket or bag. Whenever you need your tablet placed at the perfect angle for working or viewing, Plinth is ready to provide rock-steady support at the touch of a button.
Thank you, everyone, for your marvellous support, help, encouragement, and company.
The story so far
Since I bought my first iPad in 2010, tablet computers have become increasingly important in my life – both at work and at home. From reading books, surfing and emailing, to watching movies and playing games. I now do a substantial amount of my design work on my iPad, and carry it with me everywhere.
Over the years, I have tried smart covers, folio cases, minimalist cases and big rubber waterproof jobs, and for me I favour something minimal. I like to pick up my iPad, switch it on, and go. I also find it really important to prop the tablet at the right angle for what I’m doing – whether typing on the screen, sketching, or watching a movie.
Because I carry my iPad with me wherever I go, I wanted a stand that would come with me too. That meant it had to be as small and discreet as possible, and had to set up as near to instantly as possible.
I've spent the last year prototyping various ideas, initially focusing on adjustment and stability. Then I turned my attention to speed of setting up the stand, and once people started saying 'Wow!' when I pressed the button, I knew I was on to a winner.
Who am I?
My name is John Bull, and I'm a product designer, based in Somerset in the UK. I've run my own product design business for 20 years, designing all sorts of stuff. I'm married, with 3 kids, a boxer, and a passion for trying to live with a little more kindness towards our world.
This product works incredibly well, and I'd like every aspect of the Plinth to reflect that quality and attention to detail. I therefore propose moulding the Plinth in high specification engineering plastics, co-moulded with soft rubber pads to hold your tablet still and prevent scratches.
You can see CAD renderings of how the plinth will look on my website - myplinth.co.uk
Timescales and work still to be done
- November 2012 - First model 3D printed.
- October 2013 - Patent applied for. Prove-out prototype built by CALM, Exeter.
- December 2013 - 1st Kickstarter project launched.
- February 2014 - Project relaunched with revised goal. CAD work to be completed. Obtain final costings for bought-in components. Liaise with company to complete design and production of packaging.
- March 2014 - Commission design and production of injection mould tools (6 weeks). Seek orders from retail distributors.
- Late April 2014 - First tool trials. Product testing and possible slight modification of moulds to optimise function, strength and performance.
- Early May 2014 - Fulfil rewards to Kickstarters. Ongoing production.
I have put a lot of time into developing a product which ticks all the boxes for those who use tablet computers in their everyday lives - both at work and at home.
Everyone who has used one of the prototypes has loved it, and the feedback from our first Kickstarter project has been overwhelmingly positive. However funding the whole tooling investment from one project proved too steep a hill to climb, so we have now have the backing of private investors who will enable the tools to be made if this campaign is successful. As a result, this relaunched project has a much lower goal of £21,000, although the ideal would be to raise enough money so that loans will not be necessary.
The costs are not insignificant:
- Injection mould tools - £23,000
- Packaging design and production - £5,000
- Patent protection - £3,500
- Cost of fulfilling pledge rewards, including shipping - £10,100
- Campaign costs - £2,000
- Initial Marketing costs - £1,000
Partners to make Plinth happen
In my career in product design, I have for many years worked closely with a first class tooling and moulding company called Hayden Products (http://www.haydenproducts.co.uk), based in Maidenhead, and they are my preferred partner to manufacture and assemble Plinth. We have been liaising for some months as the design of Plinth progressed towards completion.
I have also had a lot of support from CALM (Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing) at Exeter University, who have built the prototypes used in the video, and are available to send to magazines/technical review websites (please contact me if you'd like to review one).
Also in support is SWMAS - the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service, who have been invaluable in support and helping me put together a feasible production plan.
Finally, there are a number of companies and private individuals, some whom I have known for years, and some only met during the first Kickstarter campaign, who have offered advice, support and backing to help fund the balance in addition to the Kickstarter goal, needed to enter production successfully. We've got a pretty good team now.
We have already had interest expressed by a major UK distributor, and we have relationships with companies marketing through Amazon.
We also see Plinth has a massive appeal as a promotional corporate gift, as shown in the following visual.
I'm also keen to pursue some more fun opportunities - Plinth would look cool in black with funky coloured rubber pads, or maybe white with soft colour.
There have been several enquiries for an aluminium Plinth, and this is being currently investigated. In fact, there are lots of doors which could be opened once the basic product is in production and selling well.
Risks and challenges
As a product designer with 20 years experience, I am comfortable with both the design and the process of arranging manufacture. I have selected a first class tooling and moulding company in Maidenhead (England) - Hayden Products, and am already working closely with them as we move towards production.
The fields of marketing and PR are more of a challenge, particularly during the Kickstarter phase, and my first campaign taught me a lot about engaging sufficient momentum to successfully reach our target.
We also have made some good contacts who are providing a lot of support.
As the project progresses, we will be working to set up arrangements for warehousing and distribution on an ongoing basis, and welcome enquiries from companies who may wish to work with us.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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