Customer Profile – Estelle
Estelle is a family owned Australian company which dominates the frameless shower screen market in Sydney. They are unique in that they design and manufacture their own European-inspired products such as hinges, handles, holders and accessories for the installers.
Founder John O’Brien has established a reputation over the past decade for innovation (Estelle pioneered the Power Grab™ hinge) and it was this desire to continually bring new products to market that led to Estelle installing SolidWorks. Previously John would send his rough drawings to an off-site industrial designer and then go through the (sometimes lengthy) motions of each iteration going back and forth until the product design was completed. John’s son Steven didn’t have any CAD or engineering experience but despite that he enthusiastically took up SolidWorks from Cadspace and now, not long after, he is designing a number of industry-first products which will be released to the market over the coming year.
Steven said the combination of an intuitive software program with the huge amount of support he received from SolidWorks specialist Cadspace led to the quick start-up.
“SolidWorks can do anything, it has everything I need. All of its features are relevant. I know I haven’t been using it for very long but I’ve already produced six innovative products for our next catalogue.”
“Gabe and the team at Cadspace made it all so easy for me. I know I can call them at any time for advice over the phone. They’ve been involved with 3D CAD for such a long time that they have a wealth of knowledge and that means people like me are up and running a lot faster. The learning phase is shorter.”
Steven says SolidWorks has made a huge difference to how Estelle designs its shower screen products. He and John collaborate in the office each day. John still starts with a rough concept but now he sees it evolving before his eyes and can make design changes a lot quicker. Seeing it as a photo-realistic 3D model helps the process.
“SolidWorks has knocked the wall down between what can and can’t be manufactured”, said Steven, “We now know straight away how straightforward or how hard it is to make a part. And we can calculate what the part will cost to make well before the prototype stage. I’m now doing something that wasn’t possible here before – I designed a new type of screw to specifically suit a conceptual product rather than relying on off-the-shelf screws.”
He said the 3D renders help with communicating new ideas to their overseas manufacturers.
“We can send the render and then discuss it and they know what we are talking about. There’s no confusion and it cuts down the time it takes to cost out materials and set up production.”
Whilst this ability to accelerate the design-to-manufacture process and make more sophisticated products has given Estelle another competitive advantage, Steven also found a very simple job for the application which proved how pervasive it can be.
“We are designing a product show case. It’s an aluminium briefcase filled with foam. I was able to take the dimensions of our 3D product files from SolidWorks and give them to the foam company so that when they cut out the inserts for the product samples they all fit perfectly.”
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