I was hired by Melissa Dowell to turn her concept for narwhal-shaped grilling skewers into a manufacturable product.
Melissa is a professional illustrator who has managed a number of large art projects including organizing Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School and managing Molly Crabapple, INC. She came up with a whimsical product, and needed material research, a manufacturing plan, CAD to deliver to manufacturers, and prototypes created to evaluate human factors and DFM strategies.
Melissa sculpted a first prototype by hand. I used a scan of the design to evaluate different manufacturing approaches, including lost wax casting, die casting, and injection molding. We also 3d printed different versions of the design to combine with metal skewers to evaluate what was easy to grip by hand, handle with tongs, and use as a serious cooking tool. After honing in on a final design, I modeled the skewer in SolidWorks to optimize for casting and material thickness, and we assembled a printed metal prototype. We used this design to stage shots for the successful Kickstarter campaign.
From there, Melissa shepherded the design through to final manufacture – finding a factory in China to handle the casting and assembly, and designing packaging both for the early backers and the retail product.