Project image
)}
$372
pledged of $19,500pledged of $19,500 goal
6
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, September 21 2018 7:23 PM UTC +00:00
Steve and Cindy BrinkBy Steve and Cindy Brink
First created
Steve and Cindy BrinkBy Steve and Cindy Brink
First created
$372
pledged of $19,500pledged of $19,500 goal
6
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, September 21 2018 7:23 PM UTC +00:00

What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

8217827db6a86e02e546e8c7a390bb45 original.png?ixlib=rb 2.0

Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

About

Project Description  

First, thank you for visiting and reading our campaign and also, please share this link and story, Best Regards. 

Cool Cat Fans are almost ready for limited production, but needs capital for some minor tools, equipment, materials for production and general business expenses. By achieving the pledge goal we can start limited production and internet sales. Help is needed to kick-start the production and sales process. Most of the tooling has already been developed and purchased. The design is solid from hundreds of proven tests. We have 3 different injection molds already purchased for the different fan parts, but need one more minor injection mold. The motor and fan assembly, which is the heart of the fans, works well under tests and we are confident that in the future the design of the motor can and will be used in other products. If the target pledge goal is exceeded, this will allow us to reduce the price of the product, even more than planned, through improved design for manufacturing and adding more technology to our manufacturing process. Our goals are simple: build the best product, continuous improvement, continue lowering costs, and keep components simple and easily obtainable from here in the US. We started down the path of designing our own Brushless Direct Current (BLDC) motor and integrating it into the fan blade as a result of the difficulties in finding and trying to work with some foreign companies. Problems arose in the timelines, quantities, and costs of components, particularly in limited quantities. Therefore, we rethought our approach and successfully designed the BLDC motor into the fan blade along with the needed electronics for motor control. We have run our brushless motors thousands of hours and they remain cool and reliable.

Specifications  

  • Stylish and compact for the desk environment
  • Power from 240-100 AC to 12 VDC Adapter or;
  • Powered from Special USB 3 cable
  • Brushless DC motor (high reliability)
  • No wire windings (ease of manufacturing) 
  • No laminated Stator (ease of manufacturing)
  • High air-flow (approx. 150 CFM) 
  • Adjustable air flow
  • Quiet even air distribution (7 inch fan blades) 
  • Low power consumption (4 Watts) 
  • U.S. Designed and Manufactured

Lessons Learned

The US needs to bring back manufacturing of commodities products to provide jobs, stabilize our manufacturing capabilities and improve our work force. Small, inexpensive motors for fans and toys, for example are manufactured in other countries. We truly believe that small businesses can manufacture these types of commodities here in the US with innovation and high technology manufacturing to compete with cheap overseas labor and high volume manufacturing. This is a chance to support this effort.

History  

Three years ago, in May of 2015, our electric bill reached more than $180 in a single month in Orange County, California with no air conditioning. So, we went on a hunt to find our wasted electricity, reduce our electric usage and thus our carbon footprint. We measured everything, removing vampire AC adapters, replacing all lights with LEDs, put timers on TVs that were being left on by the kids, installed ultra-low power ceiling fans, and even put a timer on the modem and router to turn off between 1 and 6 am. This got the electric bill down to about $60 a month and we were rather proud. We also thought that if everyone did this it would go a long way towards helping reduce the need for energy and reducing our carbon footprint. As we got more into the summer and it started to get hotter and more uncomfortable in our home office while working on the computers (no fans in the room) we started looking at different types of desk fans and purchased one. We got out our Kill-a-Watt meter and noticed it was drawing 35 watts of power. It was also very noisy and it took up a lot of space (close to a square foot on the desk) but curious, the fan blades were small, only 7 inches. We looked at other smaller fans and found many that were loud, took a lot of power and simply didn’t move much air. We wanted a good working fan that was comfortable, quiet (for conference calls), and used less power. So little power, that it would run on a USB 3.0 port. We don't like all those AC wall adapters. Being an electronic engineer I started thinking about fans that were used to cool entertainment systems that had to be quiet. This is what we called going into Phase 0.  

Initial Concept Design - Phase 0

We went to our local electronics store and found a couple of 200 mm (7.8 inch) pancake fans. At home we connected them up to an AC-to-DC power supply and on to a DC-to-DC converter so that we could have variable control of the speed and thus noise of the fan. We cut out holes in a board, mounted the units and this was our concept prototype fan. The unit worked well and we used it the entire summer. The power usage was low, but even with 2 fans was still less than 10 watts. We liked the design, it was quiet, used less power than other units, and provided more than enough air to be comfortable during warm and hot days that reached into the low and mid 80s within our office. We decided to develop a single fan version and learn how to design plastics. Cindy would continue to review and research other fans. We discovered Protolabs.com, a Minnesota based injection mold company that would take 3D models and build injection molds for high rate production. These guys at Protolabs are fantastic! This began the real design work, which we call Phase 1.

Fan Housing Design - Phase 1

We proceeded for the next year by developing two 3D models for the housing and the housing feet that we then converted into injection molds. The housing held a 3rd party modified pancake fan and motor assembly that was connected to a DC-to-DC converter for controlling the fan speed. The fan didn’t have a name at this time, so my wife and I developed a label, and the Cool Cat Fan was born. This was the design we initially wanted to go into production and sell, so we created iBrink LLC a manufacturing company. There were several problems that were solved and new problems for taking the product into low rate production discovered. The problem stopping this prototype from going into production was the cost of one important component, the pancake fan.  An analysis was performed and we discovered that this cost could be reduced considerably if a new fan and motor could be designed and produced in-house instead of purchasing the pancake fan from overseas. Success would mean every major component of the fan would than be built, designed and assembled in the United States giving us better control of parts for manufacturing.Therefore, Phase 2 of the fan design began.   

Fan and Motor Development - Phase 2

Designing fan blades and motors is not easy! It took a year of study, building, and testing different motor types and fan geometries that were integrated and tested. About 8 different fan blades and motors were built until the performance goals were met for speed, low power, low noise, and reduced cost. Once the fan blade, motor, and controller design was completed, the job of making a silent bearing design was started. Again, a few prototypes were developed then improved and tested until the correct balance of airflow, power consumption, low noise, and low cost was achieved. Once designed into the housing and retested for a number of months, it was clear that the design was solid and ready for low rate production for which Kickstarter.com is needed. With capital from the campaign, Phase 3 will begin.

Limited Manufacturing - Phase 3

With new capital we will update the printed circuit board, design and buy one mold (simple adapter), automate hole cut-outs of fan housing, buy new back labels, develop a website for marketing and sales, test-test-test, buy fan components and manufacture Cool Cat Fans. With money that exceeds target pledge we will update our manufacturing for more speed, efficiency and performance.

Future Opportunities  

  • It is possible that we over-calculated manufacturing costs for large quantity builds. We might be able to lower the cost to less than $35.  
  • Popularity of the Cool Cat Fans might be greater than expected, with more people realizing the benefits to save air-conditioning costs, and having a more comfortable work space, which will allow us to develop more styles and offer the fans in different colors.
  • The very light weight and highly reliable Brushless DC motor may be offered separately, without the fan, to be designed into other applications generating another market for iBrink LLC.

Risks and challenges

Calculation of manufacturing costs was carefully considered but there might be a cost related to manufacturing not realized. Mitigation is to keep the manufacturing steps simple, continue to design out touch labor, keep all components basic with sources that are purchased local and optimize manufacturing without causing performance issues.

Popularity of Cool Cat Fans might not support manufacturing quantities or the ultimate target cost of the fans of less than $35 US. Mitigation is the response and information from our Kickstart campaign and continued market tests and study. Also, to be cautious on our initial limited production making improvements with each batch of fans made.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Thank You!! Friend of Cool Cat Fans

    This helps to get our production going and we thank you for your support.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Supporters of Cool Cat Manufacturing

    We are grateful for your support of small business commodities manufacturing in the US. We will add your name, country of origin, and pledge amount to our wall size wooden plaque that will hang in our main office plus provide quarterly reports of our status.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Cool Cat Fans in June 2019

    You will receive a Cool Cat Fan when production is producing higher volumes at lower costs. Includes A/C adapter and/or USB adapter optional.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    Cool Cat Fans in April 2019

    You will receive a Cool Cat Fan in April 2019. Includes A/C adapter and/or USB adapter optional.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Cool Cat Fans in December 2018

    You will receive a Cool Cat Fan early with AC adapter and/or USB adapter optional.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Cool Cat Fan Limited Build and Signed

    You will receive a special Cool Cat Fan that has a hexagonal grille (premium) that is also signed and numbered. Choice of AC or USB adapter. This pledge helps us to really grow and we are ecstatic for the support!

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Funding period

- (30 days)