Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

How 2 Make a Prototype with SolidWorks

You can probably recall hearing someone say “I should make that” or “that’s a great idea”, but it never comes to fruition. Babson’s How2Tuesday hosted the session How 2 Make a Prototype with SolidWorks for that very reason. The session was lead by Abhishek Bali and Sal Lama, both employees of 3DEXPERIENCE Labs. The 3DEXPERIENCE Lab is a 3100 square foot lab with machinery for prototyping, such as 3D printers, laser engravers, a CNC precision mill, to name a few, and even a Virtual Reality zone. “It’s like a big home coming,” says Lama about the space, who shared that a lot of the startups come out of schools that have tools like this. The space seemed to draw interest from the event attendees, especially since it holds a lot of competitions and events, including “Rap Thursdays” (jazz music plays most other days).

Lama got into the workflow of a typical prototyping project, specifically using a skateboard that he built as an example. He started out looking for inspiration, researching current boards on the market that he found interesting, and eventually settling on one with a specific design feature he desired. His next step was to build a design for the board in SOLIDWORKS Xdesign, a recently release browser based 3D CAD.

Once the design for the board shape was developed, concaves and all, Lama built a mold design around the board, and then made it using 2 x 4 planks of wood, which he joined together and chopped down to make a block that was the correct size. A CNC machine connected to the 3D model of the mold and created it out of the block. Afterwards, using a number of clamps and a lot of glue, Lama glued some wooden planks together to the thickness of the board and place them under clamps on the mold. The final steps were to place the graphic on the board and then cut the shape out and smooth the edges. All of the skateboard building process has actually been documented by Lama, who was eager to start a new board and asked the class for feedback on the best design out of a selection of 6 he had already created.

The idea of creating something seemed to spark a lot of interest from the crowd, and fortunately there are many help sessions available from the Lab. One Babson Summer Venture Program alum, Chloris Yang MSEL’17 of Thero, got a great deal of help at the Lab. Thero is a “Magic Mug That Saves Your Tongue and Time.” It actually started at Babson’s Design Zone, where Chloris Yang had the idea to use space materials in consumer goods. Eventually, through the help of Summer Venture Program and the 3DEXPERIENCE Labs, the idea transformed into an amazing product.

A final project that attendees of this How2Tuesday heard about was very much in the works. A member of the 3DEXPERIENCE team is blind, and uses a cane. However, he has difficulty using the cane to know when an obstacle that is above waist height (like something coming out of a truck bed) is in the way. Thus, the team decided to create a wearable sonar emitting device that vibrates at different frequencies when an obstacle is in front of the wearer, the frequency increasing as the obstacle comes closer. Attendees were able to see a number of phases that the project has gone through, and are eager to see the outcome!

The big takeaway from the night was that if you have an idea, there are many resources available to help you reach your goal. The Lab is available to members of many institutions, including Babson students. So if you have an idea, check out the space and see if your idea might be something worth building.