For my senior design project, I chose to join a team of engineers in designing an accessory top for the Polaris Slingshot, a three-wheeled auto-cycle.
Meet the Team:
How might we design a safer, more aesthetic rollcage for the Polaris Slingshot?
When Polaris approached us with this project, their product line included only one accessory top for the Slingshot: a fiberglass roof called the Slingshade (upper left).
While it looks attractive, it provides no protection in the case of a rollover. As a result, many third party rollcages have popped up. However, few of these were appealing to customer’s aesthetic tastes.
“The Slingshot is a vehicle expressing
This quote from a user sums up the sentiment I found among many Slingshot fans. They are drawn to the vehicle because of its in-your-face aesthetic. Many commented on how great it feels to pull up to a stoplight and see all the heads turn at such a unique vehicle.
We wanted our design to match that same feeling, so we gathered this inspiration:
Wanting to make sure that form would follow function, I led my engineers through a series of workshops to generate concepts, such as these scale models.
I took our best concepts from the form studies and explored different directions in 2-D.
CONCEPTS that WE PITCHED TO POLARIS
The feedback from Polaris' team was vital to the success of this project. Here's what they thought:
Polaris liked this concept for its exciting geometry, but disliked the “brow” sticking out so far.
They were drawn to the simplicity of this design and its manufacturability, but wanted something more eye-catching.
Their team was intrigued by the idea of using hydroforming, but felt it was too expensive to pursue at this time.
Once we narrowed in on the concepts that matched our intended aesthetic, my team helped me build some low-fidelity prototypes to get a sense of how well people fit in them.
In order to iterate quickly through designs, I taught myself how to model in Gravity Sketch. It was useful to quickly create 3D model without being weighed down by the typical constraints of CAD.
Although my role was Industrial Designer, I executed almost all of the CAD modeling.
However, I relied heavily on my engineering teammates' expertise. It was they who completed the technical drawings and FEA analysis.
When an FEA analysis revealed that one area of our design needed further support, it was back to the drawing board
Putting our heads together, my team came up with a stamped metal gusset that would both enhance the aesthetic and safety of the overall rollcage.
Getting it made
With the help of the team at Polaris, we were able to have a full-scale working prototype manufactured. And of course, we took it for a spin.