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Creating a fully functional prototype of a shopping trolley

01 March 2006

In late September 2004, Supercart, a leader in the supply of plastic shopping carts, approached ARRK to help it develop a fully functional prototype of a new model for design assessment purposes. Site manager and project leader, Craig Vickers, was able to guide the company through the various processes available to them, including stereolithography, selective laser sintering, fused deposition modelling and down stream services, such as polyurethane castings and paint and texturing services.

Supercart's primary concerns were how its model would work, stack and look. Stackability, in particular, is a vital factor for potential buyers of the product, given the limited space available to most retailers for shopping cart storage. Based on these criteria, ARRK advised Supercart that a full-sized selective laser sintering (SLS) prototype model would be able to address all of its concerns. Using glass filled nylon powder to produce the trolley in a series of sections, this process also delivered excellent strength, durability and rigidity.

An initial three prototype SLS models were produced over a two to three week period by Martin Burgess and his team at ARRK. Numerous design changes were accommodated during the period, but the three SLS machines operating at the Gloucester site offered considerably reduced lead times for the client, saving him both time and money.

Following the assembly and trial stages, several modifications were made and incorporated successfully by grafting them into the existing units. Adopting this approach at the outset saved valuable time and avoided the unnecessary additional expense of having to undertake complete rebuilds.

With the whole project having gone so smoothly and to schedule, Supercart found itself in the position of being able to exhibit its new trolley at the global retail trade exhibition "EuroShop" in Dusseldorf, Germany in February 2005. In order to create additional visual impact, one of the prototypes was fully finished and painted red and silver, before being packed and delivered direct to the show, where it attracted a lot of attention.

In the wake of this successful project, Supercart has asked ARRK to produce prototypes for a number of other launch projects.

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