I did not expect how big of a difference industrial design would make in the final stages of InvenTABLE's product development.
The version of InvenTABLE that you see in most of our pictures and videos, which we built ourselves in our makerspace, felt (at least from the outside) like a finished, polished product. At the very least, it was finished enough for us to take it to events at museums, to professionally photograph and film, and to launch our Kickstarter campaign. We knew we wanted to hire an industrial designer to polish it up and get it ready for manufacturing, but didn't realize how pivotal that step would become.
It has been so interesting to see how a few thoughtful changes and details can alter the entire product experience for the better.
We met Bart Ruijpers of Loket Design through a friend who launched a Kickstarter campaign back in 2020 (True Places) that had worked with Bart for their product. Though we didn't see many other hardware products on his portfolio at the time, his playful design style really resonated with us. Most importantly, he understood our vision for InvenTABLE right off the bat.
In our first phase of working with Bart, we went over our extensive product requirements, and he took a few weeks to create these three potential design directions for the InvenTABLE.
We were originally really drawn towards the "Pleater" because we loved how the pleats reminded us of corrugated cardboard, and loved how easy it would be to pick up and move the "Grabber". Ultimately though, we decided that experience-wise (and according to our manufacturer, tooling-wise) the CUT-E made the most sense.
With our feedback, Bart moved the power button to the side of the machine, and we also began to work out some ideas for how we would build out and attach the table accessory "add-ons" that we offered after hitting our 200K Kickstarter stretch goal. The idea here was to bring the pleated design back but this time, have it be on the lid as a way to attach the fence, angle cutting guide, and circle cutting guide to the top surface of the machine. This concept kicked off a ton of brainstorming and prototyping different lid options.
While working simultaneously with our manufacturers, we realized that one part of the InvenTABLE experience that was lacking some thought was the way that the dust collected inside of the machine is removed. As of now, users open up the circular lid and can either attach a shop vac to it or pick up the entire InvenTABLE and shake it over a trash can. Realizing that most of our users don't have shop vacs, and that picking the entire InvenTABLE up every time you use it isn't the best user experience, we have changed direction towards a removable drawer that can be pulled out of the machine and emptied over a trash can instead. We know some people are excited about the shop vac connect-ability, and are thinking about ways to make that still work - perhaps a free 3D-printable shop vac attachment?
This final render is quite close to what the final version of InvenTABLE is going to look like. We know this new design represents a bit of a change in the look and feel of InvenTABLE, and we are excited to hear what you think!