PATENTING – During the design and prototyping processes, D2M found an appropriate Chartered Patent Attorney who applied for and filed several patents, trademarks and design applications on the client’s behalf. A UK Patent for Ventz was filed with the UK Intellectual Property Office, giving Warren a monopoly on his invention in the UK for up to twenty years. The attorney also filed a European Design Application, protecting the appearance of Ventz within Europe and granting Warren a monopoly on its manufacture, use, distribution and sale for up to twenty-five years. A corresponding US Design Application was filed within the six-month priority period that followed. A Trademark Application was also filed in the UK, as well as a European Trademark Application for the word Ventz, which protects its use and brand image in all twenty-seven EU member states.
PRESENTATION PROTOTYPE – Presentation prototypes are produced so that a client is able to demonstrate his or her product to retailers or potential buyers. They differ from proof of concept prototypes in that they are created with materials similar to those used to produce the final product, more closely resemble what that product will look like and include branding. Another function of a presentation prototype is to highlight any problems with design or materials so that final tooling changes can be made to the manufacturing specification.
The two component parts of the Ventz presentation prototype were made with polypropylene plastic and TPU plastic respectively. These parts did not easily assemble and dissemble, however, and it was discovered that the TPU plastic had a surehardness of 80 and was not malleable enough. This problem was addressed and the surehardness of the plastic lowered to 75 in the final manufacturing specification. It was also discovered that, when bent (as around a rider’s arm), the TPU component came away too easily from the polypropylene. This was rectified with CAD by extending the length of the plastic pads designed to hold the two components together.
Having found solutions to these problems, D2M was then able to produce a manufacturing specification, including 3D data and information on everything from materials and surehardness to the finish to be used for the plastic, enabling the start of production tooling.
MANUFACTURING – D2M offers an expert service in approaching suppliers and acquiring and comparing quotes with clients but on this occasion Warren was very proactive in sourcing manufacturing himself, as well as branding and packaging design. With the manufacturing specification produced by D2M’s designers, he was able to find a Chinese company to create the production tooling necessary to manufacture Ventz, which consists of moulds into which the appropriate plastics are injected. This tooling was then transferred to UK company Opus Plastics, which manufactures and assembles the component parts of Ventz entirely within its Devon-based site, receiving the insect-repelling metal mesh at the front of the product from another UK manufacturer.
LAUNCH – Since launching Ventz onto the market, demand has been such that Warren has found fulfilling the number of orders he is receiving to be a challenge. An initial order of 12,000 units, based on pre-orders of 8,000 from retailers and customers, quickly sold out. Warren sells Ventz directly online at a rate of around 20 per day and through UK motorcycle retailer Fowlers, and is currently discussing his product with Essex Police and European companies. In a recent interview, he spoke of interest developing even further afield: ‘There have been calls from Germany, South Africa, the U.S. and Australia, along with a skiing company who are interested in adapting the technology. It’s literally going worldwide.’ Ventz has featured on BBC Radio 2’s Simon Mayo Drive-Time Show and Warren has approached Charley Boorman on the subject of using Ventz in the filming of his next television programme.