Sustainability, Prototyping and the Future of Zone4
Zone4 is a software and hardware company that focuses on race timing systems. We have been working in collaboration with them to design an enclosure for their one-of-a-kind race timing chip. The Part 1 discussion provided background information regarding Zone4 and their founder Dan Roycroft. Part 2 will provide details on how ONETWOSIX Design’s expertise has aided Zone4 in improving their product.
Although they had a creative chip design, Zone4 was not satisfied with the design of the enclosure that they were using. The previous design was largely based on the premise to fulfill large batch orders. It was injection molded, and the system utilized an epoxy resin to seal the chips into the enclosure. This production design required Zone4 to spend additional time and effort to complete post processing. Consequently, this process resulted in an increase in valuable time and money on Zone4’s behalf. Furthermore, as the chips were permanently sealed in the enclosure, they could not be examined for deficiencies or re-used if they outlasted the lifespan of the casing. Not having an industrial design team in house created an opportunity for ONETWOSIX Design to become involved in the design process of this innovative product.
“We used passive chips for years and every time I saw one of those passive chips go in the garbage I thought, ‘you know, we as a company are personally responsible for that garbage.’ You can say that the market demanded it, but no, your company produced that, you did that, and you are responsible for that.”
— Dan Roycroft
By re-designing the enclosure, as well as a system to fabricate the enclosures using 3D printing technology, we were able to help Zone4 create a design where they will have full control of the batch quantities. As a result, the post processing work was eliminated, and the chips were reusable. The chips are embedded in the print part way through production, and then as the print is completed, the chips are sealed inside. Zone4 felt this was an important aspect of the design not only because of a moral obligation to the environment, but also to ensure that their hardware would not become obsolete.
“If there’s something that doesn’t make sense from a first principles perspective—like if there’s no reason why you couldn’t reuse that—someone someday will figure out a way to do it, and they’re going to make you obsolete.”
— Dan Roycroft
By teaming up with Zone4, we have been able to drastically improve their enclosure design in not only the area of sustainability, but also in performance. In racing, weight reduction is crucial, and we are pleased to say that the new 3D printed design is 30% lighter than the previous version.
“If I knew back when I began this in 2011 with the guys, I would have leveraged outside expertise a lot sooner.”
— Dan Roycroft
By teaming up with a design team, Zone4 was able to focus on their strengths as a company, and let us handle the design work. The new 3D printed design is in its final phase of refinement, with the first real world testing to take place in the fall of 2016. For the future, Zone4 continues to strive to produce innovations in the race timing industry, and we look forward to continued involvement in this process along their journey.