I am new to working from home, and one of the things I really like is not having to leave my house in the mornings. No messy commute, no searching for a good parking spot at work, and no worrying about scraping my windows when the cold Ohio winter blusters in. My car is parked in the driveway and hasn’t moved for days, saving me precious gas money. However, not everyone can enjoy life from a home office. There are about 7 billion people on the planet, with over 1 billion of those people driving a car. With that many cars on the road, thousands of cities are experiencing a pretty major problem: coordinating drivers to available parking space. Dutch startup PARKEAGLE has teamed up with 3D printing software company Printr to work on a solution.
Printr is helping PARKEAGLE to rapid prototype their parking sensor enclosure with 3D printing. PARKEAGLE came up with a revolutionary area: build a network of smart sensors, which directly transmit parking occupancy data to mobile phones. They wanted a sensor that was easy to install, quick to create, water resistant, portable, and durable under heavy loads. They created the first version of the enclosure, consisting of three components, to incorporate all of these key aspects.
In order to show potential investors their innovative product idea, PARKEAGLE printed their first product prototype through an online 3D printing service using selective laser sintering (SLS). Unfortunately, the process took longer and cost more than they expected, and it included little consultancy from the 3D printing party they used. Searching for an alternative prototyping partner, they turned to fellow Startupbootcamp alumna Printr, renowned for Formide, an online cloud-based platform which allows users to easily prepare, queue, print, control, and monitor multiple projects on multiple printers.
“3D printing enabled us to get tangible results of our vision and design. With the consultancy provided by Printr, we were able to optimize our product design more cost efficiently and in a much shorter timespan,” said Peter Wit, PARKEAGLE’s CTO.
By working with Printr (who memorably raised $820,000 in seed funding last year), PARKEAGLE quickly realized that 3D printing could be used to not only visualize their idea, but also for rapid prototyping, and ultimately optimizing their product. Printr suggested that PARKEAGLE reduce the enclosure down from three components to two, and also to switch from SLS printing to fused deposition modeling (FDM) printing. Both of these suggestions made the prototyping process more time and cost effective. The ultimate product was also more efficient in terms of material use.
By optimizing the model for FDM printing, Printr made the prototype more durable and enabled PARKEAGLE to incorporate electronic components. They were also able to test the functional and mechanical validity of their designs. Since the PLA prototype was designed to carry heavy loads, PARKEAGLE could run carrying capacity calculations with a vehicle, which allowed the following prototype to be lower, broader, and more weight resistant.
“Rapid prototyping with 3D printing is changing the way startups operating and scale,” Printr stated. “We’re proud to see a company like PARKEAGLE make good use of our extended experience and knowhow.”
The PARKEAGLE sensor is tailored to fit the customer’s needs and, unlike their competitors, requires no additional equipment. Their network of smart wireless sensors communicates directly to your car and mobile phone, guiding you to available parking spaces. Some of its other features include:
- Ultra low power
- Long lifetime
- Battery powered
- Robust for all kinds of weather conditions
- Two variants (surface vs. flushmounted)
While PARKEAGLE was continuing their work with Printr (which is no stranger to offering custom solutions), the IoT company decided to showcase their parking sensor prototypes at Startupbootcamp’s Demo Day. This decision paid off, as they were the proud winners of Amsterdam’s 2015 Get in the Ring startup pitch competition. Discuss in the Smart Parking Sensors forum at 3DPB.com.