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How to CNC machine an ergonomic test model

Styling block model to test the handling of a camera

The Microsnapper is a device in which a digital camera, a PC and a memo-recorder are integrated. After making a photo all types of extra information can be added, using the built-in touch-screen, the microphone or the barcode-pen. Some important demands were present for the housing:
  • Sufficient grip for the user to handle it using one hand only
  • Easy handling, for all functions
  • Good looking: the appearance suggesting a light and small device
  • Room for all parts to be built in (of course)
To really evaluate these demands a prototype was needed. Where renderings like the one shown below give the designer much information and can be used for presentation purposes, for both ergonomic evaluation a real prototype is needed. A styling block model (solid model) has been created, using an STL file exported by Microstation (tm).

This is one of the earliest DeskProto projects: the model was created in 1994.

screenshot: simple rendering of a camera
screenshot: presentation rendering of a camera
A presentation renderings of the Microsnapper

We have created a number of massive prototypes of the camera, using PUR (PolyURethane) foam (finished with one simple layer of paint), for a visual evaluation during the design process.

Screenshot of some toolpaths
This DeskProto screen (Version 1!) shows the toolpaths used to machine the prototype of this camera.

After that we have created a prototype of the final design, using Cibatool (Renshape) model-material. This prototype has been used as a mould for thermo-forming: the shells created this way are used to make a completely functioning prototype, thus testing the fit of all inside parts.

Thermoformed camera model
A prototype made by thermoforming plastic sheet over a CNC machine mold.

The Microsnapper has been conceived and designed by the Dutch company Chess in Haarlem, designer Mark Fleuren.