Nearly a year ago I was having a rant about how I felt that some categories of product are almost universally ugly. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I should do something and I decided that designing my own razor would be a good place to start.
My experiments began with sawing the end off a razor and attaching my own handle to it. For this I used a length of aluminium tube I bought on eBay and epoxied it to the razor head. I used this razor to shave with and really thought I was on to something. To make sure I wasn’t crazy, I gave it to a couple of friends to try (with fresh razor cartridges obviously!).
It went down well and it made me want to pursue the idea of a simple, beautiful, solid metal razor handle.
I made some more prototypes by hacking up razors and metal but there came a point where I needed to get a bit more precise about what shape this thing was going to be. I thought about getting a handle machined out of aluminium but that would have been crazy expensive. Then I realised that 3D printing could be the answer.
I’d had some experience with 3D printing a few years ago when working for a large scientific product company so I knew roughly what the capabilities were. There were two significant problems though: I didn’t have a 3D printer and I didn’t know how to do my own CAD modelling.
Luckily for me my background in engineering meant that I knew people who could help out with the CAD modelling – people who would understand me and put up with the back-and-forth that it takes to get these things right. Another piece of luck was that I had just heard from a good friend in New York that she had started working for this thing called 3D Hubs.
A little aside is that my very first 3D printed razor prototype was made high in the Swiss Alps. As I was spending Christmas there with my in-laws it turned out that my brother-in-law knew that the local school had their own 3D printer. They were kind enough to let me use it and immediately I could see the value in having a solid, usable razor to test my design. Even though this is a pretty simple product, the shape and feel of it are critical to the success of the project.
So back in London I got straight onto the 3D Hubs website and found that there was a hub right down the road from me that I could cycle to!
Just yesterday I picked up my third iteration of the design printed by the excellent Loh Hu at Maker’s Affair. She has been really quick and the quality of the printing is excellent. She was also able to help me out with choosing the material and getting the right settings for the job – something I’d have struggled with on my own.
As well as painting some 3D printed razors for pictures of the razor on our website, another thing 3D printing has enabled us to do is give away some of the latest 3D prototypes for people to actually use to shave with. This kind of feedback is invaluable and now really accessible because of 3D printing.
So 3D printing has been instrumental in turning my idea into a potential business. There is no other way we could have got this far so quickly and managing to keep costs down. We have a manufacturer lined up for full production in metal and now we just need to get some backing via Kickstarter.
Latest 3D print details:
Printer: Duplicator 4X
Infill density: 20%
Layer height: 0.1mm
Skirt outline: 20 without any offset (1 layer of it)
Printing speed: 60mm/s
Travelling speed: 80mm/s