Ok so Dubai doesn't quite look like this now but apparently it's going to (credit crunch aside).
Andrew Bradley came back from his holiday in Dubai with a tired bottle insulator. He said for all that it was cheap, nasty and didn't perform very well it was still a life saver. At 45 deg C (113F) drinks temperature rocketed without one. They were at least drinkable with the insulator.
He came back saying, why don't we import these?
Stephen said, well... can we not make something better?
Stephen researches insulation, what's been done, but more importantly what's not being done. Lots of people are using the same materials, none of them are doing a very good job.
He reads about Aerogel and a new company called Aspen who have managed to engineer this incredible material into a useable blanket form. It was targeted at industrial sectors, but why not try it in consumer products?
Stephen flicks through a local nature magazine whilst on honemoon (obviously bored) in South Africa he comes across some stunning imagery of the Quiver tree.
It is an image that was to stick with him in the years to come.
The birth of our company
Ice Cool Industries Limited was officially registered with Companies House in the United Kingdom.
KTP application made
In looking to find a way to research and commercialise his idea Stephen discovers Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP). The govenment funded scheme partnered Ice Cool with the University of Strathclyde for a three year partnership to bring design procedures in house and research new product opportunities.
KTP application ongoing
Stephen waited to complete the KTP process
it took a while
still waiting... it's almost christmas
no news yet
KTP Contract signed
The long wait was over!
Approval was given for our KTP project and the work could finally begin.
A good day for all and a turning point for Quiver.
Kieran comes on board
And then there were two
Kieran is selected to be the KTP associate and starts work with Stephen. The Department of Design Manufacturing and Engineering Management (DMEM) at the University of Strathclyde is the Knowledge partner for the project.
Angela Stone is the KTP principal academic. She proves to be integral to the project and a great source of advice.
Test Phase 1
3 weeks of hot and cold testing were conducted at the University of Strathclyde's mechanical engineering labs.
Aerogel was tested against traditional insulating materials including rockwool, foams, neoprenes and several others.
The Aerogel came out on top.
Testing Phase 2
A second round of hot and cold tests were conducted for two weeks. The test took lessons from the first phase and refined the process to yield more reliable and useful results.
Aerogel shone once more.
So we knew we wanted to use Aerogel, but how would we encapsulate it and how would we incorporate it into a useable product?
Aspen told us about some of the work being done with foam laminates.... then we looked into it.
Tough, tactile and we could mould it into all sorts of shapes. What's not to like? We opened up dialogues with manufacturers as soon as possible.
The potential of the foam led to all sorts of concepts... it was great. Our imaginations ran riot.
The all over foam ideas continued and we had one prototyped in polyurethane on a 5-axis CNC machine......
But it did look rather like an elongated grenade... not the first overtly macho design Kieran was to create.
First Chinese gamble
Having fallen in love with the possibilities of moulded foam we fell out of love with UK manufacturing. There are only a handful of companies who work with 3D moulded foam shapes. Of those companies most were over loaded with jobs or simply uninterested in working on what was essentially still an R&D project..
We started to consider the possibilitiy of a chinese collaboration.
Don't you just hate it when you pay for a prototype moulding tool only to find out that the manufacturer has made you a 4/5 scale wooden model of your design?
So our 1st attempt with our chinese chums was a bit of a failure. We asked them to create a moulding tool... but somehow this translated as a wooden model. At least it was cheap.
We had a second go at trying to make things work with our distant manufacturers.
This time we made sure we kept better tabs on what was happening. Photos were demanded when ever possible, At least this time we knew they were making mould tools.
Ok, so it does look pretty cool. Imposing looking black foam .. a bit of a 'Haan Solo in carbonite' vibe.
However as cool as the mouldings might have looked the quality was poor, the dimensions inaccurate and the durability questionable.
It had taken over 5 months to get some calamitous samples. It was time to cut our losses and look elsewhere.
Made in America
After the failure in China and the smattering of UK companies providing little possibility for development a conference visit to San Francisco opened up a new opportunity.
In discussions with other design engineers the name of a company called Foarm was thrown up. A little research into US foam moulders immediately showed Foarm to be one of the foremost in the field of custom designed foam mouldings.
So we went for a wee visit.
Ice Cool Wins!
The Strathclyde Entreprenurial Network held its inaugural Supernovas awards. It was an event to award innovation in industry.
Ice Cool was up for the flagship award of the night, 'Most Dazzling Product 2007'. It was a nail biting wait until the last announcement of the night but we won! £5,000 product development funding and lots of lovely press.
Not to mention the novelty sized cheque and a bit of crystal for the mantlepiece.
Our design took a little turn towards the phallic.....measures had to be taken to steer it away.
It's amazing how these things look fine on screen. it's only once you get a prototype made and in your hands that it suddenly becomes glaringly obvious.
Design becomes more refined
The launch model - AeroPoint.50 starts to become more refined.
The other members of the family began to take shape and fall into place, a handsome family if ever there was one.
The AeroPoint.200 is designed to house 1.5 and 2 litre bottles. It will be ideal for picnics or days on the beach. The AeroPoint.33 is designed for 330ml bottles and targeted at the kids market.
Not so phallic
Another prototype, FDM (fused deposition modelling - very cool process) this time.
This proved to be a very beneficial ergonomic exercise - it felt great and was substantially less phallic than it's predecessor.
What's in a name
The story behind the name
After weeks of ruminating, cogitating and general mulling over... Quiver stuck. Ever since Stephen first saw the stunning images of the tree, it's insulating characteristics, it's endangered status..... everything fell in place and it seemed the only natural choice of name.
California calls once more
The men go west.
Stephen and Kieran head out to Santa Barbara to work with Foarm and push things on.
.... so does Massachusetts
the men then head east a bit.....
Kieran and Stephen head back over the continent to see Aspen - the Aerogel men.
We really should have found manufacturers closer together!!
Foarm prototype tooling
Foarm get underway with our first prototype foam moulding tools.
It's really exciting getting to see your design machined from a block of aluminium.
The partnership ends after three years of interesting adventure and beaurocacy. We didn't quite have a product at this point but there was certainly light at the end of the tunnel.
We were sad to bid farewell to Angela's official time on the product.
The first samples came in varying thicknesses, durability and fabrics.
The 'old lady's dress' style fabric that happened to be lying about at Foarm when they were making the samples has caught many an eye since.
Kokerboom kids are here
The Quiver products are designed to be aimed across a range of user groups, including the younger end of the age spectrum.
The KokerBoom Kids have been designed to help market the smaller ranges in the series towards the youth and infant market.
We have every confidence that Pico, Atto, Peta and Yotta are going to be a big hit on the playground. There were plenty of adults here getting suitably excited.
Thanks to Alan@ Dead Boy Designs
Ice Cool go Live
Ice Cool's site
Our first official web presence is launched. It feels like we've come an awful long way since it was launched, but it still looks the part.
Our first assembled Quiver (all be it still off the prototype tools)
It had us all very excited.... and still does. There's lots that was addressed and changed after it, but it still worked a treat and looked the part.
Back to SoCal
Kieran heads back out to Santa Barbara once more. This time to work with Foarm for a full month to move the design along.
Things go well, lots of loose ends tied up.
Scottish Enterprise come through
Scottish Enterprise match fund our e-commerce and web site development. This was a huge step in putting together the kind of platform that Quiver deserves.
Great thanks are due to Scottish Enterprise, as well as Jane at Targeting Innovation.
Nation1 win Quiver
After an extensive tender process Glasgow's Nation1 rise above the rest to win the design and development of the Quiver digital presence.
Their forward thinking attitude, digital awareness and flair for design made them a perfect partner.
Reusable bottle progresses
We finally get things moving on the design of our own reusable bottle.
Whilst our insulator is designed to accomodate a whole range of generic disposable bottles we want to ensure we can promote a sustainable reusable alternative.
Launch colours finalised
After much discussion we finally decide on our 6 launch colours; Pink (Panther), Yellow (Mojave), Blue (Cobalt), Red (Scarab), Black (Carbon), Stars on blue (Patriot)
Our prototype is going to get to go on more holidays than we are. It went off to the Maldives for a location shoot......
Some prototypes get all the luck.
Emma comes onboard
Emma McGahon joins the Ice Cool team.
She's become our in house social media guru..... although she didn't know she was going to be when she joined.
After a social media seminar chaired by Kyle from Blether Media we are hooked. Suddenly the potential of social media channels is obvious to us so we get Kyle on board with Quiver
Quiver blog site
The social media presence begins to ramp up with the launch of our Quiver blog site.
The site is a one stop shop for what we're doing, what we've done and what we're going to do next. Featuring blogs from Stephen, Emma and Kieran it has lots of great content.