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Cradlewise: The Story Of Manufacturing India's First Smart Cradle

By Shibanshu MukhopadhyayMay 22, 20190 Comment

Cradlewise is a smart cradle for babies from 0 to 12 months of age that provides uninterrupted quality sleep to babies as well as parents. This cradle swings the baby to sleep along with soothing music, just like a mother would!

This cradle can monitor for early wakeup signals and act on these to put the baby back to sleep. They also have an integrated contactless baby monitor that alerts the parents incase of unsafe sleep posture.

THE CHALLENGE

Cradlewise wanted to make the product modular and its assembly effortless, without changing the aesthetics of the smart cradle. The modular design would also help in making the cradle portable for parents  as well as simplify its packaging. Most importantly, Cradlewise needed expert opinion in figuring out the manufacturability of their designs, as this hadn’t been tested yet.

Smart Cradle by Cradlewise

THE SOLUTION

When Cradlewise approached us with the design for their cradle, we started off by looking at how the process of connecting the hammock with the rest of the cradle could be simplified. For this, we integrated Cradlewise’s suggestion of using POGO pins for electrical connection while maintaining mechanical freedom, and designed an electro-mechanical coupler around it. The idea here was to maintain robust electrical connectivity while making it more portable.. By verifying our design through a few rounds of prototyping via sheet metal fabrication and  machining, we were able to further optimize the design such that it was not only easier to manufacture, but also easier to use for the end user. And then of course, fabrication of the pilot batch of couplers was accomplished ensuring part-to-part repeatability.

Sheet Metal Coupler

“Karkhana.io brings with it not just the vendor connects and know-how, but also the design and engineering skills needed to prototype and manufacture completely new parts that are complex and have tight tolerance requirements. We got all of the plastics and some of the metal parts in our cradle manufactured with the help of Karkhana.io.” - Bharath Patil, Co-Founder and CTO

After taking note of our agility in manufacturing parts on-demand, ability to accommodate changes quickly and ease in communication, Cradlewise was more than happy to have us on-board for their immediate 50 orders. This consignment included 350 metal parts – 100 units of metal couplers & 250 units of frame couplers, and 1800 plastic parts. The metal parts again were subjected to sheet metal fabrication and CNC turning as decided in the prototyping phase, whereas the plastic parts needed different manufacturing methods based on their usage.

THE PLASTIC PUZZLE

Cradlewise had done their initial prototyping through 3D printing and was looking to partner for production of their market ready units. The entire assembly comprised of 13 unique plastic parts. The challenge was to get them into production and assembly thereafter, within 4 weeks.

To go ahead with it, the most imperative point was classifying which plastic part went where and which properties did it need to possess. Upon further discussion, these 13 plastic parts were broadly classified into 2 groups: Exterior(7) and Interior(6).

In terms of finish, Exterior parts needed to be in a specific colour, have smooth finish and an aesthetic appeal to them for great consumer experience. Furthermore, the feet of the cradle required cushioning to sustain any difference in surface levels and attain grip across any surface. So we suggested to go for ABS for all rigid parts and TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) for the feet of the cradle. Also, to obtain all the desired colour and surface finish, injection moulding was chosen as a preferred manufacturing method for all exterior parts.

The Interior components were more time sensitive as they were required for assembly of electronic components. Whereas, colour matching and surface finish were not a strict criteria here. Since it was already a stretch to get the 7 sets of injection molding dies ready within 4 weeks, we decided to go ahead with vacuum casting for Interior components.

Vacuum Cast Plastic Part

Taking time-sensitivity of the products into consideration, the interior components were sent to manufacture first while the moulds for Exterior parts were being machined. Upon the completion of moulds, the exterior parts were injection moulded and dispatched to Cradlewise. The entire batch of plastic parts and metal parts production took around 8 weeks to complete.

Injection Molded Plastic Parts

However, it would be untrue to say that this whole process was a breeze. While the couplers were in the production phase, Cradlewise needed to incorporate a change in the design such that any misalignment while mounting the hammock on to the cradle frame would not damage the electronics in any way. So, we took a temporary halt in the production, improvised the design according to the changes, and sent it back to manufacturing. Thanks to our large and well-established network of vendors, we could integrate sudden changes while minimizing the delay in production.

Of all the Exterior plastic parts, a couple of them had critical snap fit features and their moulding dies underwent two iterations of machining to get the perfect match. As a result, we could not deliver the entire consignment on our committed timelines. However, we were able to make fixes along the way and even utilized one-day delivery in order to minimize any and every delay for Cradlewise’s needs.

Thankfully, all these challenges could be tackled because of Cradlewise’s support in absorbing the production delays, and our robust network of vendors allocated to different processes which enabled us to make any necessary changes on-the-go while still providing high-quality parts.

“About 25% of the parts were even designed by Karkhana.io. Karkhana.io also helped with the overall DFM of both the metal parts and the plastics parts. There was one tricky part that joined the head and the body of the cradle that took 5 iterations and it is very commendable that we were able to manage these iterations in a span of 4 months. Design insights from Karkhana.io were very valuable through these iterations. The team is highly dedicated and on one occasion, we needed a part urgently and Sonam personally ensured that the parts were sent by flight at night so that we could get it the very next morning in Bangalore.” - Bharath Patil, Co-Founder and CTO

Cradlewise is indeed leading a revolution in the field of childcare and looking to ease the life of several parents in India & abroad through their smart cradle. We, at Karkhana.io, were very happy to be so deeply involved in their product development, and are proud to help them bring their innovations into realization.

Like Cradlewise, transform your innovative product design into a fully functional model with Karkhana.io – your trusted on-demand manufacturing platform. Click here to start your manufacturing journey with us.

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