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How to machine prototypes for product design

Prototype for power tool design: the Skil Heatgun

Utrecht (NL) based design consultancy Brandes en Meurs has a successful track record in (public) seating and power tools. Complex, double-curved geometry and ever important ergonomic criteria are what these subjects have in common. Brandes en Meurs intensively uses DeskProto in combination with their in-house CNC milling machine to create ergonomic evaluation models, like for the handle of this heatgun.

Two hand-made concept models in PS foam
The design process starts with handmade concept models in PolyStyrene foam.

At Brandes en Meurs the design process start with manually creating foam models, in order to truly evaluate all concept ideas for the new product. These models are made using PolyStyrene foam, using sculpting methods like hot-wire, scraping and sanding.

Screenshot of the design in ProDesigner
Screenshot of the design in ProEngineer
The design in 3D CAD.

This project is for a heatgun, to be made by Skil in the Netherlands. A heatgun is a handheld appliance used to remove old paint before applying a new layer.
CAD tools used were ProDesigner and ProEngineer (now called 'Creo').

machine model of a handle
A CNC machined model of the heatgun's handle, used for ergonomic evaluations

Important design requirements are the Skil family looks, good ergonomics (easy to hold as it may be used for many hours), and of course that all inside parts will fit inside the housing. For ergonomic tests a CNC machined model as shown above is a great tool.

Finished model
Final product
The styling block model and the final product.

In all cases a final presentation model is needed, which is a perfectly finished styling block model, machined by Brandes en Meurs in tooling board. Try and find the differences between this model and the final product - (check the chrome plated nozzle, and some small text engraved in the final injection mould).

Photo of heat gun, box and manual
The finished product and it's packaging.

The picture of the styling block model has in fact been used for the packaging design, saving time for the final product release.
The Skil heatgun has won a GIO (Good Industrial Design) award.