It started with an idea. I couldn’t just load up the bike, and head for the hills on my first winter hammock overnight, I had to test my underquilt. So hanging in my backyard in the cold, a little too early and wide awake I got bored. So I brought up Netflix on my phone. Well, my fingers froze, my top quilt was open or my arms were out, and I just couldn’t get comfortable.
So I went back inside, boiled some water and stirred in some poly morph. I formed my first phone holder that hung from a ridgeline. I posted this simple proof of concept on Make your own gear -hammock camping and Hammock Forums face book pages. Over night I had 500 likes between both posts. Apparently folks thought I was trying to market them on Hammock Forums (though I wasn’t selling anything) but I got what I needed from that and smoked the posts!
There was a knock off on Thingiverse within 2 weeks! Whatever, it was phone specific and limited. I’ve been knocked off on 3 products and beaten to production on another in the past. I anticipated folks would copy me, so I started a provisional patent and got to work to make a full featured version that would receive any phone in any case, could articulate for diagonal lay, horizontal, or vertical orientation, and support secondary devices and accessories such as power banks, solar chargers, headphones, and even found ways of adapting tablets. A product that would blow knock offs and competition out of the water!
The HangTime Hook functions as an organizer and supports more than just media devices! It can support action cameras, aim flashlights and fans, even hold closed containers, drawstring bags, accessories, manage charging cords and headphone cables! I was very handy, universal, and functional, yet simple and light weight!
I consulted Todd Rigoli a machinist and Jon Torta a 3D print extraordinaire and worked out the CAD design, then started 3D printing them! The initial sales paid for 3D printers, and with feedback from early adopters I was able to discover the limitations of the parts and worked out what materials were best. 3D printing is time consuming, low volume, and is not as dense and solid as pressurized injection molding.
The 3D printing process creates layers, a grain basically, and the materials used are affected by ambient temperatures and humidity. The product reliability improved by switching from ABS to PETG, which substantially improved layer adhesion, but despite enclosures and printing on the kitchen table, temps and humidity changes rendered inconsistent results. I also needed to make a lot more!
Eric Hales, that has decades of engineering and networks with factories and manufacturers reached out to me. The sales of the 3D printed versions had produced enough capitol to pay a patent attorney to file a Non Provisional Utility Patent, and possibly tooling for an injection mold! Without investors, loans, or crowd fund campaigns, I was able to sell beta versions to patrons of the cottage hammock industry through social media, awareness on Hammock Forums, sending samples to retailers that showed them off as well as youtube reviewers that took the time to talk about the product.
Injection molding production has begun, the first run to complete by end of June, 2018 ready for shipment! I have several large orders to fulfill already! Keep your eyes open at your favorite cottage hammock industry retailer for the improved HangTime Hook by end of July! I may sell directly, depending on market saturation here, but I hope to support the industry by selling through retailers hammock campers all know and love.
As far as the early adopters, perhaps not on this first run, but upon subsequent production runs I will offer a direct upgrade program for early adopters that own 3D printed units. Everyone that purchased them from me used PayPal associated with their email address. I hope to reach out to each one of you very soon! Thank you All, consultants, attorneys, consumers, retailers, and the general hammock camping community for getting this idea to market!