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The Brief

Step2 Design were approached by an individual with an idea to change the way we wash and clean microfiber cloths. As someone who was involved in the cleaning industry, they found that using traditional washing methods or machines did not adequately clean and freshen up microfiber cloths leaving them dirty as well as the harsh nature of washing machines breaking the fibres down in the cloths. We were tasked with developing a desktop-sized washer that could effectively and efficiently clean four cloths. Initially the unit needed to be manually powered with options to make the unit electrically powered in the future.

Concept Design

The team set out by exploring the current market, looking at existing washing solutions and the correct process for cleaning microfiber cloths. From this information, we were able to generate a clear direction and produce several concepts to show to the client, looking at form as well as function we wanted to get a design that was able to show the workings of the unit while not having an industrial look. Settling on a barrel design with a clear case we were able to provide an efficient cleaning profile while showcasing the intricate details of the barrel design.

Moving forward we began the technical development process and developed the idea using our chosen 3D CAD software; SolidWorks. With this data we were able to provide the client with a detailed analysis of their design and talk through all the design features we had included. We also took the opportunity to provide visual renders and 3D images to showcase how the final product would look when manufactured.

Prototype Manufacture

Upon agreeing on the technical details and design style we proceeded to produce a working prototype of the design, utilising our in-house prototyping facilities, we 3D printed the main housing and unique drum design whilst also integrating off-the-shelf components and fixings. Providing the client with a working prototype was a beneficial way to analyse the design and make informed decisions on any amendments that needed to be made. Furthermore, the prototype allowed for the user interaction to be observed and assessed as well as the overall look and feel of the product to be experienced.

We then moved on to version two of the design implementing the design improvements and beginning to incorporate electronics into the system, going through a similar process as before and keeping the client informed and up to date with our working progress. Upon completion of this phase, the project was passed back to the client who opted to continue their manufacture phase elsewhere.

Project Challenges

One of the main challenges with this project was designing a system that not only contained moving water but also provided a continuous mechanical connection from the inside to the outside of the unit. We had to get creative with sealing methods and the types of seals used, specifically looking at double O-rings as well as sealant glues to help connect clear panels to the bodywork. The challenge encouraged the team to look at alternative design styles as well as ensure the technical aspect of the design was looked at from all angles and functionality was not compromised.

Being one of the company’s earlier projects it was ideal to help us understand our design processes as a team and highlight how we could improve this, and implement in future projects, enabling us to provide a fully rounded service to our clients.

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    Trading Address

    Step2 Design Limited HERE
    470 Bath Road
    Arnos Vale
    Bristol BS4 3AP