Last week a hotel chain reached out to us about our PS2-USB4 power strip. They really liked using it in their rooms, but wanted to discourage guests from bringing it home as a Plugable souvenir.
This was a particularly interesting design problem for several reasons: The primary task was to design a mounting mechanism to prevent casual theft. Second, the mount had to be robust enough to withstand daily use from many temporary users. Third, I wanted minimal interruption from the mount of the power strip’s visual form. The cherry on top was the need to keep the powerstrip easily accessible for maintenance. These competing needs for security and accessibility made for a fun challenge.
For my initial design, I unscrewed the backplate of the dock and replaced it with a two-piece slab that slotted into a rotating mount base. If that sounds confusing, it’s because it was. While I was eventually able to put the contraption together, the detailed bits were too delicate and rendered the whole thing ineffective. So I went back to the drawing board and opted for a simpler and more elegant solution.
Check it out!
From a clean slate, I decided to make a pair of interlocking brackets to clamp the powerstrip into place. The powerstrip requires large open faces to accommodate cables, so I built around the corners, allowing easy access while minimizing time and material to print.
Petty theft is largely motivated by opportunity. So by designing the brackets to look extra impregnable, would-be thieves are much more reluctant to attempt to remove the device. Hiding the connection point between the two brackets underneath the powerstrip increases the sense of impenetrability.
Even though my earlier design didn’t work out, it was a valuable learning experience about the difference between digital expectations and the physical realities of the print. Using this lesson, I could make tiny adjustments that allowed the brackets to fit together cleanly, with just the right amount of snug.
To give a subtle contrast to the otherwise rectangular device, I rounded the corners and added curved cutouts on the sides. These curved elements look nice, but also make the bracket pleasant to touch. This is important because it can help create a casual affection for the product through touch. In later designs, I want to further explore how texture can enhance a product.
Stay tuned, my next project is a mounting mechanism for the 5 Port USB Charger. http://plugable.com/products/usb-c5tx
And here’s the link again for the PS2-USB4 brackets
-This post is part of an ongoing series about using 3D printing to enhance Plugable’s products. Design Intern, Justin Taylor, is working this summer to create and test CAD models of mounts and bracketing systems for our various products. Here is the link to the growing archive of posts on the project.