About this project
Below you will find everything you need to learn about Squizmo. When you realize you need one, please visit www.squizmo.co to place an order for whatever your dispensing needs may be.
Squeeze and Seal
The concept for Squizmo(TM) was actually born out of trying to refill travel sized toothpaste with the contents of larger tubes. I was very frustrated with the cost of travel sized toothpaste vs regular sized toothpaste (travel sized toothpaste is more than twice as expensive per ounce than regular sized.) I also noticed that the number of toothpaste sizes close to the TSA limit of 3 ounces was limited, and I wanted to be able to reuse my 2.7 ouncer. After realizing that refilling tubes through the mouth would be limited by different manufacturers' designs, I started thinking about refilling the tube from the back, where it is normally sealed (see video below for an in depth explanation.) The basic design of the sealing Squizmo followed soon afterwards, and I quickly realized that it was also a very effective, stand alone tube squeezer that would work on any tube. While explaining what Squizmo does gets a little more complicated, the additional functionality could not be ignored. Squizmo is a tube squeezer. It is also a sealer. Most importantly, it's both at the same time.
Squizmo saves you time by eliminating the hassle of trying to dispense a tube's contents, especially as it gets closer to empty. It saves you money by maximizing the amount of material you get out of the tube. It also saves you money if you choose to refill smaller tubes from larger ones because toothpaste in travel sized tubes is more than twice as expensive per ounce than when it is sold in larger sizes. Also, if you think about most containers, one of their fundamental characteristics is that they are refillable (and reusable.) For most products sold in tubes, this isn't the case. By utilizing the sealing functionality of Squizmo, all tubes become reusable. With the various products sold in tubes, this product could help "save the environment" by putting a significant dent in the number of tubes that are thrown away.
3D Printed Squizmos?
I have been working with FDM/FFF style 3D printers for 7 years. As I was prototyping Squizmo frames, I realized that the production versions could also be made using the same method. Very capable machines are available at reasonable prices, and bulk purchasing filament would further reduce costs. Most importantly, the complex geometry and low part volume makes 3D printing a very competitive option compared to injection molding, even in high volumes. The 3D printed parts have been extensively tested, and will continue to be tested to ensure performance over each Squizmo's life. By choosing a 3D printed reward, you will be helping to build the capacity to potentially make Squizmo the first 3D printed consumer product available in high volumes!
Squizmo as a Lesson on 3D Printing
What better way to learn about 3D printing than to do so with a completely functional product in your hand? Then use it for as long as products are sold in tubes! Included in every reward will be the document, 3D Printing Squzimo. Learn about everything from support material to overhangs, layer thicknesses to fill density, and the trade offs between build orientation, part strength and surface finish. For those interested in the various 3D printing technologies, I will also cover as many of them as possible and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Print your own Squizmo
The CAD file will be available as a reward for you to print your own Squizmo. You can choose whether or not to source the non printed component (see further down for in depth explanation of this part.) Here is a picture of the end result of this option being completed by Form Labs on their Form1 printer which uses Stereolithography to build the part. The CAD file was sent to them, as was the gripping material, then they printed and assembled it.
Customized and Personalized
Squizmo will be available in various colors. In the interest of keeping the number of rewards to a minimum and to accommodate backers' various preferences, a survey will be completed after the campaign. The number of colors will be limited though. Squizmo can also be personalized with text on a 1/2" x 1" area on the lever arm. A machine capable of printing with two colors will be used for this, so the text can be a different color. As with the frame colors, color options will be decided by a survey after the campaign.
Custom length Squizmos can also be made to accommodate wider tubes than the standard rewards. Tube width will be limited to 4" and the thickness must be less than 1/16".
This is the printer I will make the personalized Squizmos on. For those that are familiar with the industry, it is a Stratasys machine that I've completely retrofitted with parts that are now commonly available.
The Design Process
The design process involved continuously refining the Squizmo design using CAD and then verifying performance using 3D printing. What started off as a tubular shape turned into the current design that incorporates lever arms to open the Squizmo for easier tube insertion.
All versions of Squizmo were made up of the frame, the knob/pin assembly and the gripping material. After the tube is inserted into the frame, the gripping material pulls the tube through it, while simultaneously compressing it. The gripping material is rubber tubing found in hardware stores, big box home improvement stores and a variety of other locations (including Mcmaster-Carr, of course!)
The thicknesses of the different features were also optimized using FEA software to evenly distribute the stress of opening the Squizmo as well as squeezing the tube.
Qualifications and Production Plan
I've worked as a manufacturing engineer, and as an engineer in product development and research and development roles. I also have extensive experience with 3D printers. From my experience in manufacturing, I have experience building high volume production systems. More recent professional experiences have included procurement and logistics, in addition to engineering roles. As the campaign is wrapping up, the number of printers necessary to meet the demand will be purchased. The final quantity of Squizmos will also determine the level of tooling and equipment needed to aid in their mass production. Packaging design and reward fulfillment will be coordinated while the machines are running.
Risks and challenges
3D printers can be fairly finicky. My experience with the machines I intend to use has proven that the are very reliable though. With the number of Squizmos I'll need to make, there may be some unanticipated down time that may lead some capacity constraints. If this happens, these issues will be communicated. If worst comes to worst, new models of printers will be investigated and sourced.
I recently made approximately 50 3D printed versions of Squizmos and it took a considerable amount of time. The assembly equipment is a crucial aspect of getting the Squizmo to ship on time. While I have designed and built machines many times over, I have yet to build a toothpaste tube squeezer assembly machine. If for some reason things don't progress as expected, I have several resources (both individuals and companies) that I can bring in to assist me.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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