THE STORY OF FIXCLIP
About Trade invent AB
Trade Invent AB was founded in 2013 and is today an innovation company run and owned by Pontus Göth and Göran Ewerlöf.
The clip was launched in 2015 and has already become a global success. In November of that year, Trade Invent AB received a prestigious award for best plastic ovation in 2015.
Here's the story of how FIXCLIP came about.
Göran Ewerlöf who is an inventor and has developed everything from infusion pumps, inhalers to industrial six color printing machines for CDs etc.
Göran is also an incurable sailor who every season lost a number of towels and swimwear that tore into the wind and flew in the water. Sometimes he could get hold of them and sometimes he didn't.
Out of frustration, an idea was born of a clothespin that could attach swimwear and towels in a simple and storm-proof way of the composite parts.
Now it was exciting, the sketches came flying for the rest of the boat holiday. Back at home, the real product development continued in the 3D program where Göran normally works with machine designs.
The first thought was to develop a clamp with knee joint locking. The clamp would be made in one piece and have plastic hinges, as on a bag clamp, so-called living hinge.
To test the function, I made data models of the different parts of the CAD program. The next step was to do an authentic function test in the computer of the composite parts.
The "arms" of the clamp that open and close the jaws have integrated knee joints that stay in a stable position when the clamp closes. This gives a very high locking force in the jaw section.
Göran showed the sketches to his nephew Pontus Göth, who was visiting Göran's workshop on Värmdö in the Stockholm archipelago. Pontus, who is himself an entrepreneur, liked the idea so much that we decided to start a company together Trade Invent AB.
The development of physical models
To move forward, we needed funding, we managed to get a start-up grant and an innovation loan from Almi.
Now we started working with physical models in the form of 3D printing/ SLA models. This is quick, we could have prototypes in hand the very next day, a fantastic help in product development.
To mimic PP plastic as much as possible for functional testing, the solution was to cast the models in Silicon moulds. The Silicon moulds were then used to cast prototypes in different two-component casting mixtures.
In parallel with the functional tests, work was underway to create a stylish design and to slim down excess material and to replace this with thin reinforcement ribs. Drop angles for the injection moulding tool, hinges function and holding property were also optimized.
Now it was also a matter of inserting logos, making all rounds etc. so that the clamp feels ergonomic and easy for the user.
Finally, it was time for the next step, to make a prototype injection moulding tool in aluminum and sharply test various plastic raw materials. Expectations were of course very high when we got the first Test series.
But things didn't quite go as planned. We had problems with the jaws locking not remaining optimal as they were in tension for a long time. Many different plastic materials were tested but we did not achieve the high performance we had seen in front of us. Nothing but perfection was good enough for us!
After two years of testing and development work, the air went out of the project, it felt like. But shame on the one who surrenders.
During a boat trip in the Stockholm archipelago, we met some boat owners who had towels hanging to dry. The discussion soon slid over to boat clothespins and what they thought of these. Completely useless was the unanimous conclusion!
One disappointed woman told me:
- I've just lost my nice bath towel, and my husband has dragged an anchor after it, but he only gets other people's towels up all the time but not my nice bath towel.
These meetings on the bridge gave new energy to the project, it must be possible to fix this!
On each problem, there is at least one solution. In this case, the solution was to use two different plastic materials with unique properties. With such a construction, the jaw section of the clamp withstands high lasting loads. At the same time, the hinges of the clamp are so flexible that they have an almost infinite life without bursting.
To help us, we had the plastic supplier DuPont who liked the project and who has a solid expertise in high performance UV resistant plastics.
DuPont helped computer simulate injection moulding and proposed some changes to the injection moulding tools to maximize the properties of plastics.
The two different plastics of which the clamp consists cannot be glued or molded together. Instead, to join the two different parts, a mechanical locking function was created where the two parts are snapped together into one unit. The clamp is completely devoid of metal springs that often rust or loosen.
Two parts will now become one! In order to create profitability in the project, it must be an automatic assembly of the two parts.
Return to the computer to design a machine that assembles the two parts into a complete FIXCLP. The assembly machine we designed has now replaced the manual assembly and spits out 3000 complete clamps per hour.
All the challenges were now solved! The final version with its smart jaws can lock clothes, towels, canvases, etc. on both washing lines and thick pulpite pipes up to a diameter of 32mm. The clip does not let go even during the most extreme wind gusts, so the laundry or swimwear is safe to hang on even while travelling at high speed with the boat.
Result: Award-winning and Patent protected product!
The product FIXCLIP - an innovative lockable clip /clothespin that holds the grip even in the toughest conditions. Now you can safely hang laundry without risking losing it outside the window or on the balcony.
The clamp's patented double knee joint locks and self-locking friction arms provide unique grip properties. It has no metal springs and thus no problem with rust, in addition, it is 100% recyclable.
FixClip maintains a firm grip on towels, clothes, tarpaulins, etc., even in strong winds. The flexible grip range of 5-32 mm allows for wide use.
Today, FIXCLIP is available in most major boat accessories chains throughout Europe. Also sold USA, Canada, Mexico and Australia. More recently, sales have taken off, not least through the global launch on amazon.
This spring we are launching a smaller version FixClip mini that is a superior competitor to today's simple clothespins. We will also develop different clamps for healthcare with our patented locking technology.
FixClip has been granted global patent protection.
We now also have a nice collaboration with various day centres in Stockholm that help people with reduced work capacity to have a meaningful work situation. They help us pack the products in consumer packaging and in transport boxes.
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