Chipboard prototype of a wireless phone charger with style.

Prototyping Your Way To Better Prototypes

If you’ve ever made a prototype of something before making the “real” one or even the final prototype, you probably already know that hands-on design time can’t be beat. There’s really no substitute for the insight you will glean from having a three-dimensional thing to hold and turn over in your hands for a full assessment. Sometimes you need to prototype an object more than once before investing time, money, and materials into making the final prototype for presentation.

This is [Eric Strebel]’s second video in series about making an eco-friendly wireless phone charger. He made a paper prototype in the first video, and in this follow-up, he refines the idea further and makes a chipboard version of the charger before the final molded paper pulp prototype. The main advantage of the chipboard version is to design the parts so that each one will be easier to pull from its mold in a single piece without any undercuts.

By building the chipboard version first, [Eric] is able to better understand the manufacturing and assembly needs of this particular widget. This way, he can work out the kinks before spending a bunch of time in CAD to create a 3D-printed mold and making the paper pulp prototype itself. He emphasizes that this process is quite different from the 2.5D method of laser-cutting a single piece of chipboard and folding it up into a 3D object like it was a cereal box, which is likely to hide design issues. Be sure to check out the video after the break.

We think this prototype is quite nice-looking, and believe that everything deserves good design. Why should a wireless charger be any different? [Eric] has prototyped in a lot of media, but he seems especially skilled in the art of foam core board. Start with the masterclass and you’ll have a better appreciation for his foam armored vehicle and one of the many ways he smooths out foam parts.

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Cardboard And Paperclip CNC Plotter Destined For Self-Replication

Last November, after [HomoFaciens]’ garbage-can CNC build, we laid down the gauntlet – build a working CNC from cardboard and paperclips. And now, not only does OP deliver with a working CNC plotter, he also plans to develop it into a self-replicating machine.

To be honest, we made the challenge with tongue firmly planted in cheek. After all, how could corrugated cardboard ever make a sufficiently stiff structure for the frame of a CNC machine? [HomoFaciens] worked around this by using the much less compliant chipboard – probably closest to what we’d call matboard here in the States. His templates for the machine are extremely well thought-out; the main frame is a torsion box design, and the ways and slides are intricate affairs. Non-cardboard parts include threaded rod for the lead screws, servos modified for continuous rotation, an Arduino, and the aforementioned paperclips, which find use in the user interface, limit switches, and in the extremely clever encoders for each axis. The video below shows highlights of the build and the results.

True, the machine can only move a pen about, and the precision is nothing to brag about. But it works, and it’s perfectly capable of teaching all the basics of CNC builds to a beginner, which is a key design goal. And it’s well-positioned to move to the next level and become a machine that can replicate itself. We’ll be watching this one very closely.

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