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What are these prototypes?
The look I was going after personally was links that would not detract from the case of the COURG. i.e. I wasn’t interested in something overly chunky or ornate or busy. In two words: functional and sleek.
Manufacturing in titanium is super expensive. You can imagine making a titanium strap would be quite an undertaking.
So, I resolved to find the closest design to what I envisioned just so I could at least see if it was in the right territory. The closest one I could find in titanium is from a German company and it turned out to be a flexible / expandable band.
Process, process, process.
I don’t know about you, but I really can’t stand when there’s a gap between a band and the watch case. Is there a term for that ugliness? One of you on IG spotted a shot I took of a way early field test without end links and called me out! Hahaa.
Anyway, after I got my hands on one titanium flex band and felt it was good enough for a placeholder, I knew I’d need endlinks. So, I hand drew an end link design.
Then we translated that into a CAD, and then into a technical file for 3D printing. After some back and forth with our CAD guy, we refined the shape, dimensions and loaded it up for printing.
I printed it in PLA (corn plastic) first and was shocked to find it was a perfect fit on the first go! Pretty rare, as those of you who 3D likely know, or maybe I just need to upgrade print skills.
With the plastic prototypes in good shape, I went ahead and printed them in titanium. Those also turned out a spot on fit. The only thing with the titanium prints is that the laser sintering leaves a kind grainy finish on the surface. Not the worst, but also not matching the COURG finish.
So, once the print is complete, we also need to hand grind the surface closer to smooth to remove the texture. After that, we still have to sandblast each endlink to get the matte finish to match COURG.
Will they fall apart?!
Absolutely not. I’ve rocked this band for many months now, in the oceans, hiking, rock climbing, even rescuing babies (diaper changes can get downright treacherous :)).
Once we have orders in, I'll order the flex bands from Germany. At the same time, I already have a 3D printer nearby who is setup and ready to initiate fabrication of the end links. I estimate we'll have the first batch done in a few weeks.
Downers. (Notes for future upgrade)