The culmination of i4’s 10 year relationship with the Husqvarna group 

Delivering a world first dual chamber hover mower

Flymo was one of i4’s first clients back in 2003 and from the very start of our engagement with the R&D team at the Aycliffe it was clear that the relationship would be fruitful for both companies. Up until the restructuring of the company’s European R&D locations, i4 supported the development of 17 new products which included mowers, grass trimmers, chainsaws and more. During this time we were utilised as an extension of Flymo’s architectural, industrial design and engineering development team to add to their capacity and accelerate the development program. Through close communication and understanding of the company’s internal requirements, i4 was trusted to work within he Husqvarna Group’s design language and support the ID team, fusing practical experience with the ability to capture design intent in a manufacturable “A” surface CAD model

Brief

Typically for a Flymo project, i4 was approached with a feature list and an approximate architecture with a target part count. There would also be a fixed timescale based on the company’s yearly development/launch cycle which was based around testing prototypes during the summer months to allow the validation of the design during the height of the grass growing season. i4’s task was to develop and deliver the cosmetic surface and detailed engineering features that would include all of the prescribed details to allow direct transition into plastic part tooling.

From i4’s perspective, one of the key product requirements was keeping the part count to a minimum and assembly as brief as possible to allow the product to be viably built in the UK. Other challenges in the project were to;

  • Implementing the unique 2 chamber hover design
  • Keep within a tight product footprint to minimise storage/shipping costs
  • Overcome constrains around maximising the grass box volume
  • Produce a considered ergonomic design of the lifting handles
  • Generate sufficient airflow venting areas
  • Adhere to stringent safety requirements (e.g. barriers and guards)

Approach

'i4 acted like the glue between Husqvarna's Industrial and Engineering teams to ensure that the final design functioned as intended, but also represented the aesthetic intent as closely as possible. We came on board at an early stage in the project, firstly helping support the manufacture of a functional model which helped the team rationalise design thoughts before progressing further into the development of the detailed design of the product for production.

 

The Flymo UltraGlide project could not have been delivered without the team at i4. Design review meetings with the team from i4 are always valuable as they spark off multiple solutions that enable us to achieve a coherent design in a very short but intense time.

Ian Smith, the Flymo Design Manager of the UltraGlide Project

Product Research

Three of the critical features relating to the ergonomics of the product were the overall lift, basket removal and blade height adjustment. All of which were to be considered for gloved users.

User assembly had to be fool proof and encompass all levels of users to minimise potential returns/complaints. i4 utilised our past experience of garden equipment self-assembly to evaluate further avenues of improvement.

Concept Generation

The i4’s Mechanical Engineers were provided with the overall product architecture and user constraints (e.g. “walk behind” length) and were tasked with detailing the parts and engineering the junctions / interactions between these parts whilst maintaining a simplistic, clean look. It was also i4’s responsibility to develop the functionality of the individual components (excluding the blade and motor drive).

Prototyping

In discussion with Flymo, certain interacting critical components within the overall product design were identified. i4 generated engineering solutions for these components which were prototyped and tested by Flymo. This provided confidence to debug and commit to the complete product prototype. This full prototype unit was then utilised in “field” testing, communication with tool makers and marketing material.

Tooling & Manufacturing Support

 

Every component part was developed in 3D CAD for Flymo with split lines / line of draw, fully drafted surfaces and coring details fully discovered. To get the functionality and maximum usage from each plastic part required extremely complex tooling. This delivered on our goal of minimising part count and assembly time.

The Flymo UltraGlide is the most technically advanced hover collect lawnmower. i4 worked to integrate the mechanical systems with the Industrial Design with a detailed understanding of injection mouldings. They made it happen.

Ian Smith, Flymo Design Manager of the UltraGlide Project

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