imagiLabs’ mission is to get more teenage girls interested in coding. Their first product, the imagiCharm is a customisable accessory that has 64 LED lights which girls can program in any colour and any design using the imagiCharm app. The app comes with basic tutorials to enable the user to create their own 8×8 grid. And in the process they will master the basics of coding.
imagiLabs joined THINGS in mid-July 2019, the startup was founded by Beatrice Ionascu and Dora Palfi in 2017. They met at NYU Abu Dhabi where they founded the student club Women Empowered in STEM, weSTEM, to increase diversity in these largely male dominated fields. A tight bond developed between the two and whilst studying at the Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm they formed imagiLabs. It was Palfi that hit upon the idea of a programmable accessory for teens, a result of a design project.
Designing with 3D printing
The co-founders spent most of 2018 developing prototypes. To develop the product, they turned to 3D printing to test various designs before settling on the final imagiCharm design. The advantage of 3D printing is that each new design can be ready in a few hours. The imagiCharm contains a printed circuit board and battery which is housed in plastic and silicon. All components can be 3D printed to ensure compatibility.
Having a great design does not necessarily make it manufacturable due to limitations in the production process because of the injection molding technique. 3D printing uses layers to produce the product so there is flexibility to create virtually any shape. To manufacture at scale, the outer shell needs to be produced in two parts which then slides seamlessly together. During their first three months at THINGS the imagiLabs tech team have been adjusting the design and 3D printing to meet production specifications whilst trying to maintain the design integrity.
Ioanscu and imagiLabs’ Lead Hardware Engineer Boris Nimcevic started using the Ultimaker printers but found the Formlabs 3D printer superior in terms of resolution. The Ultimaker printers uses a traditional printing technique meaning a solid material is melted and layered one layer at a time. The Formlabs printer uses a different technique where the build platform is submerged in resin. Laser is then used to draw each layer onto the resin. As the laser hits the resin it hardens thus making a layer. The laser draws each layer on top of each other. ImagiCharm’s iteration process is finally at an end which means the design is almost ready to be manufactured pending prototype approval.
3D printers make it possible for rapid iteration and it is advantageous for hardware startups to have access to the machines. The process is faster and involves much less work. We are the only co-working space in Stockholm that provides an active lab with support staff, for members. The THINGS lab has a range of manufacturing machines for the production of initial prototypes. These include two fused deposition modelers, a selective laser sintering machine, a belt grinder and a bandsaw, as well as basic electronics facilities such as a soldering station. There are always tools available in the lab ranging from multimeters for electronic projects to screws, saws, and drills. And three 3D printers; two Ultimaker printers and one Formlabs.
The 3D printers in the THINGS Lab are provided by 3D Verkstan, a THINGS network partner.