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Uniwheel

Siemens NX enables Uniwheel to cruise from design concept to fully engineered product in just seven months

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Uniwheel’s aim was to be the first electric unicycle to market with a design that was thoroughly thought through. That target was met at the end of 2015, when the company launched its first consumer product, just seven months from first concept. The use of NX™ software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens PLM Software was fundamental to the success and speed of the entire development project.

Balancing form and function on one wheel

From first concept, the design team began using NX to create basic 3D models of elements such as the external styling of the plastic case, which has integrated lighting; the metal for the pedals and motor; and fine details such as the grip on the surface of the pedals. The main challenge was to package the sophisticated electronics and software, the removable battery packs, the motor and the wheel housing. Allocating appropriate spaces for the wiring looms was critical. With an emphasis clearly on the ergonomics of the main casing, 3D curves had a big role to play. “NX styling is great; the surfacing capabilities are really comprehensive,” comments Carson Brown, designer.

Predictability alleviates pressure

With several international suppliers lined up to do tooling, it was imperative that Uniwheel’s designers could convey the design intent. The use of NX and the direct transfer of computer-aided design (CAD) files enabled clear and constructive discussion about the tooling and manufacturing process. Only one tooling trial was conducted, as part of the process of refining the lights. “NX gave us confidence right from the start,” reports Milton. “We knew that if we checked everything in NX we would not get too many questions from our suppliers.”

 

Using NX to optimize the way in which all the design elements come together, the Uniwheel team was able to reduce overall weight by more than two pounds, taking the device to less than 24 pounds, an achievement that led to the casing for the motor being patented. The team was also able to hide screw holes in the main case while ensuring complete ease of assembly. It takes just one hour to put together a finished product in Uniwheel’s London research and development unit. Right on time, the first fully finished electric unicycles were launched in December 2015, only seven months from the original idea.

 

For Uniwheel’s team of designers, the reliability and stability of NX was critical. “From past experience I knew that NX is robust and utterly predictable, and with our ambitious timescales that is exactly what we needed,” observes Mark Kennell, designer.

“I have used other software that crashes twice a day and this can have a severe impact on productivity, especially when there are tight timescales,” says Brown. “With NX, we had no problems.”

“NX is an industry-standard product and we are a startup company, but I now know that we could not have managed without it,” adds Eryk Sokolowski, designer.

 

Milton reflects on the company’s first year: “It is vital to us that NX is so reliable. This was a startup, with an ambitious target and a young team of designers who had not taken a product from design to manufacture before, yet I knew that NX would take us from visualizing on a piece of paper to the finished product.”

 

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Uniwheel uses the following Siemens PLM products

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NX is an industry-standard product and we are a startup company, but we now know that we could not have managed without it. We knew that NX is robust and utterly predictable, and with our ambitious timescales that is exactly what we needed.

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