Alpha Prototype

posted Nov 28, 2013, 9:41 PM by Rose Almond   [ updated Nov 28, 2013, 9:45 PM ]
My refined gap is a way to take fresh hot or cold drinks on the go.

The key user needs for the Coffee Mug (CM) are:
  1. The CM feels good in the user’s hand.
  2. The CM maintains an ideal liquid temperature
  3. The CM is hygienic to use.
  4. The CM is rugged to last a long time.
  5. The CM does not leak. 
  6. The CM mouthpiece feels good to the user.
  7. The CM is easy to use.

Unfortunately I lost almost all of my time to work on this project (weekends) this week as I'm finally taking a short weekend vacation! This meant I was unable to spend much time building physical prototypes. 

Regardless of this time constraint the complexity of this product, even though seemingly simple, means that any foam or wood model are simply not adequate to give a true representation of the product, that can be tested in any of the normal use conditions of the product. To do this I need to complete the 3D manufacturing model of the unit and send it for 3D printing in plastic, which while still not accurate for material properties or clear material aesthetics will be able to be evaluated for dimensional properties and mechanical functionality, though will not be food safe. The cost for this is however quite high and so not justifiable for this product at the current level. Instead high quality renderings of the model can be used to give users a feel for the product to make costly refinements before proceeding to the physical beta model. By creating this in SolidWorks design software I will be able to add the specific and intricate details of the design such as the plastic snaps fastenings to my model over the next week to further refine the design.

In total I was able to both create an alpha 3D model with 90% of the features of the final product and build a simple representation of the mechanism for brewing the coffee which I presented to potential users to gain feedback on their initial reactions. 

Overall the user feedback was very positive, however the closing mechanism for the spout is not yet finalized. Users stated that the effectiveness of the spout to seal and prevent leakage would be critical to their decision making to purchase this product. They did like the methods of both being able to get the coffee very freshly brewed and of locking the coffee grounds away to prevent the drink strengthening while the liquid is sitting and were keen to try this in a final version. One user also commented on the choice of metal for the plunger rod and referenced the ability of the unit to be microwaved, so this may be an area for me to revisit during final material selection.