Re-inventing a commodity pushes the boundaries of cutting edge 3-D CAD.
Printable Project Profile.
- In 2005, the largest shopping cart maker in the world, Rehrig International (Richmond VA), dreamed of producing the first, all-plastic shopping cart.
During preliminary work on an the all-plastic cart, Rehrig was approached by MediaCart, a shopping technology start-up, who wanted to place their electronic shopping assistant device on a futuristic cart to call attention to its capabilities. To help realize the challenging, all-plastic design and integrate MediaCart's device, Rehrig enlisted the design, engineering and plastics expertise at SPARK.
- As SPARK began modeling the plastic cart design in SolidWorks 3-D CAD, we soon realized a fundamental problem: even the latest mid-level CAD software was incapable of achieving the necessary complexity of plastics design (and we were not allowed to use Pro/Engineer).
Once again, necessity being the mother of invention, SPARK forced the SolidWorks software to work "magic" and push beyond its limits. After countless software crashes, unending CAD rebuild times and regular hair-pulling fits, Rehrig and MediaCart had their shopping cart design.
SPARK's and Rehrig's cart design represented an industry first and was executed as two separate one-shot solutions, unprecedented for its time.
The all-plastic cart features a single-piece basket and a single-piece frame with requisite structural strength and durability.
Combined with the innovative, plastic molding solution, the shopping cart also achieved a sleek and ergonomic design with ruggedized features to withstand daily wear and tear.
As a case study in innovation, the shopping cart showcases SPARK's uncommon engineering and 3-D CAD expertise, and our understanding of complex plastics design, such as gas-assisted injection molding and complex flowering cavity and collapsing core molds.
In fact, SPARK's 3-D CAD work on the shopping cart was so inventive that the techniques we developed are now reference material. In 2009, SPARK's work appeared in the SolidWorks Surfacing and Complex Shape Modeling Bible and the SolidWorks Bible as a testament to their achievement.
- Today, the all-plastic shopping cart is becoming an industry standard — five years after SPARK's groundbreaking design.
In the midst of developing the all-plastic cart, Rehrig, who had been bought and sold by investment companies, was swept up in the recession and forced to close its doors. MediaCart, being a start-up, was unable to afford the enormous tooling expense for a completely new cart..
Like many industry-firsts in the history of invention, SPARK's work paved the way for future innovation. At the same time, the first all-plastic cart stands as a powerful example of SPARK's "crackerjack" design, engineering and plastics capabilities.