As we finalize our vendor decisions, we want to let you in on the making of our kit! Since the connector is such a crucial and heavily designed piece, we’ll start the maker series with this component of Boxly.
After iterating upon several designs and prototyping several shapes, we came to the hard part: gripping the cardboard. We wanted to create a gap small enough to grip tightly but wide enough so it wouldn’t severely deform the cardboard after every use. It was a surprising challenge to achieve this balance, but after altering the gap thickness several times, we went back to our original design and made some modifications.
To get consistently strong grips every time, we added a tiny bump towards the end of each slot. This prevented the cardboard from slipping out, and made a satisfying clicking feeling when you slid in the cardboard all the way.
From a mechanical perspective, there were a lot of stress points along the inner ring of the connectors. To counteract these forces, we added “stress risers” (a.k.a. “ribs”) to both faces of the piece. It made the connector a lot stronger and we haven’t had issues with connectors breaking since the change.
After these design modifications, it was just a matter of 3D printing the connectors to test out our changes. We found the new connectors to be extremely effective, and we’re excited to move forward from the expensive process of 3D printing into the realm of injection molding!