When snowboarding in Zillertal, Austria, sports enthusiast Felix Kochbeck consistently failed to video his activities smoothly and without jitter. Seeking a solution to the problem, he designed a self-stabilising, hand-held camera mount, founded a company in Berlin called LUUV (www.luuv-is-awesome.com), and produced his first prototypes with the help of EOS additive manufacturing technology.
A video camera, action cam or smartphone is attached to the top of the stabiliser mount and a handle is attached to the neck to function as the grip. A lower section incorporates precision mechanics that give the camera its stability by compensating for the cameraman's movements or motion caused by, for example, a gust of wind. The principle is loosely related to that of a self-balancing two-wheel scooter, which is able to maintain a rider's equilibrium on a single axis.
Mr Kochbeck commented, "What we wanted from the beginning was to work quickly and keep our sights set on our goal, to ensure that we would be able to get our product to market as quickly as possible.
“Moreover, as a start-up, it was very important for us to maintain strict control over costs.
“Traditionally, the construction of prototypes is costly and time-consuming, so we needed a viable alternative production technique.”
The housing had to satisfy all functional requirements, such as ergonomic design and mechanical resilience; and to be accepted for trendy outdoor use, it also had to be attractive.
A fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printer was used at the outset to produce the first functional models, but Mr Kochbeck quickly reached the point where he needed a small series of parts produced to industrial standard. As FDM printers are unable to produce that level of quality, LUUV turned instead to an EOS FORMIGA P 110 additive manufacturing machine to achieve aesthetics and mechanical properties to a professional level of quality.
The EOS solution also offered the advantage of being able to continually incorporate customer feedback into redesigns and produce subsequent iterations quickly. The additive manufacturing technique employs a laser to fuse successive layers of plastic powder based on 3D digital design data. A key feature of the technology is its suitability for the production of prototypes with particularly stringent requirements in terms of functionality, speed and cost.
Mr Kochbeck confirmed, “This production method offers a start-up great advantages. We have no set-up costs for injection moulds, for instance.
“We can employ component geometries that would not be possible using other manufacturing techniques and we can easily make changes to parts during the ongoing prototyping or production process."
For instance, the team was able to reduce the size of the mount considerably, thanks to the ability to perform intensive testing with the various prototypes. The tenth prototype generation is currently in test, something which would be barely imaginable using traditional methods. Mr Kochbeck is already planning to use EOS additive manufacturing for serial production.