The culmination of i4’s 10 year relationship with the Husqvarna group.
Flymo was one of i4pd’s first clients back in 2003 and from the very start of our engagement with the R&D team at the Aycliffe it was clear that the relationship would be fruitful for both companies. Up until the restructuring of the company’s European R&D locations, i4pd supported the development of 17 new products which included mowers, grass trimmers, chainsaws and more.
During this time we were utilised as an extension of Flymo’s architectural, industrial design and engineering development team to add to their capacity and accelerate the development program. Through close communication and understanding of the company’s internal requirements, i4 was trusted to work within he Husqvarna Group’s design language and support the ID team, fusing practical experience with the ability to capture design intent in a manufacturable “A” surface CAD model.
Typically for a Flymo project, i4pd was approached with a feature list and an approximate architecture with a target part count. There would also be a fixed timescale based on the company’s yearly development/launch cycle which was based around testing prototypes during the summer months to allow the validation of the design during the height of the grass growing season. i4pd’s task was to develop and deliver the cosmetic surface and detailed engineering features that would include all of the prescribed details to allow direct transition into plastic part tooling.
From i4pd’s perspective, one of the key product requirements was keeping the part count to a minimum and assembly as brief as possible to allow the product to be viably built in the UK. Other challenges in the project were to;
i4pd acted like the glue between Husqvarna's Industrial and Engineering teams to ensure that the final design functioned as intended, but also represented the aesthetic intent as closely as possible. We came on board at an early stage in the project, firstly helping support the manufacture of a functional model which helped the team rationalise design thoughts before progressing further into the development of the detailed design of the product for production.
Three of the critical features relating to the ergonomics of the product were the overall lift, basket removal and blade height adjustment. All of which were to be considered for gloved users.
User assembly had to be fool proof and encompass all levels of users to minimise potential returns/complaints. i4pd utilised our past experience of garden equipment self-assembly to evaluate further avenues of improvement.
The i4pd’s Mechanical Engineers were provided with the overall product architecture and user constraints (e.g. “walk behind” length) and were tasked with detailing the parts and engineering the junctions / interactions between these parts whilst maintaining a simplistic, clean look. It was also i4pd’s responsibility to develop the functionality of the individual components (excluding the blade and motor drive).
In discussion with Flymo, certain interacting critical components within the overall product design were identified. i4pd generated engineering solutions for these components which were prototyped and tested by Flymo. This provided confidence to debug and commit to the complete product prototype. This full prototype unit was then utilised in “field” testing, communication with tool makers and marketing material.
Every component part was developed in 3D CAD for Flymo with split lines / line of draw, fully drafted surfaces and coring details fully discovered. To get the functionality and maximum usage from each plastic part required extremely complex tooling. This delivered on our goal of minimising part count and assembly time.
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