Behind the Curtain: Designing a Modern-Day Stage Hook with Our Next Make

Meet Chinloo Lama and Sal Lama, who are SOLIDWORKS employees and the creative minds behind the Our Next Make YouTube channel. They tackle a variety of maker projects, both practical and fun. Recently, they collaborated with Karen and Sally, who are executive assistants at SOLIDWORKS and play crucial roles in the company’s success. Karen and Sally manage numerous tasks to support executives and their teams, including making sure that everything runs smoothly during corporate presentations.

Similar to the old theater days when a long hook was used to pull performers off stage if they exceeded their allotted time, Karen and Sally playfully bring out a hook to keep the executives on schedule. This fun and vintage method helps maintain pace and punctuality, which is essential in both business and entertainment. Inspired by this tradition, Karen and Sally proposed a new project: a travel-friendly hook. They envisioned a collapsible hook that could be easily packed and carried. The idea of making a smaller portable hook was fantastic, and Chinloo and Sal were excited to get involved.

The Design Journey Begins

The team, which included Karen and Sally, started brainstorming ideas for a collapsible hook. They considered different designs, such as a structure that could be screwed or snapped together. While searching for inspiration, Sally found a video of a telescoping sword, which gave them the idea to pursue a telescoping design.

Using 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers, personal-use CAD software, they modeled a telescoping mechanism. The initial design featured nested cone shapes that would slide out and seat in place, providing the necessary stability when extended. They aimed for a friction fit where the overlapping sections would create enough resistance to remain extended under pressure.

Although their prototype looked promising, they encountered issues with the fit. Initially, it was too tight, then it became too loose, which raised concerns about potential pinching. The friction fit was unreliable and fussy so they decided to pivot to a mechanical locking method.

Refining the Mechanism

The team created a new design for the travel hook that featured small internal and external speed bumps and shoulders. When the inner sleeve extended, its bump would slide over the stationary outer bump, locking into place and creating a secure capture zone that prevented the sections from collapsing unexpectedly.

This design was more reliable, but reaching it involved several iterations. The team experimented with spring arms that allowed for flexibility but found that arms printed across the layer lines were too fragile. After a few unsuccessful attempts, they switched to curved spring arms that flexed along the layer lines, which proved to be a much stronger alternative.

Despite the improvements, the team still had more work to do to ensure the travel hook’s functionality before an upcoming meeting. In the spirit of failing fast, Sal decided to grab a pair of snips and chop off a section from each spring arm, achieving the results they were looking for.

Fortunately, this quick test worked well. Rapid prototyping is a technique Sal learned when he worked at Hasbro, where industrial designers would cut toys in half and put them back together to quickly work ideas out.

Inviting New Makers to the Table

Karen and Sally, as future users of this newly emerging product, were deeply involved throughout the process, especially when using xDesign, the browser-based parametric CAD tool that comes with the 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers license. Sal and Chinloo assisted them in their first use of the software.

Karen and Sally designed the centerpiece, which is the coupler that connects the straight and curved segments. It felt great to help them learn a new skill and gain confidence with the design process.

Finishing Touches

Sally wanted the hook to have a seamless color gradient from top to bottom. Achieving this effect with custom filament would be nearly impossible because of the print direction so they decided to paint the hook instead. Using an airbrush, Chinloo applied thin layers of acrylic to achieve the desired gradient effect—an intricate task that added a professional touch to the final product.

After the paint job, a clear coat enamel finish was applied to protect it from wear and tear. This also ensured that the sections of the hook moved smoothly without damaging the paint.

The Big Reveal

The final reveal was a great success and surprised everyone, including Gian Paolo Bassi, who is the Executive Vice President of 3DEXPERIENCE Works. Karen and Sally were thrilled with the outcome.

Every time they use the hook, it will remind them of how empowered they felt while making it and that they can achieve anything that they can imagine.

What’s Next?

Looking ahead, Our Next Make and their Partners in Making project will be partnering with makers of all skill levels with big ideas, but not all the pieces to make them happen. Partners in Making helps makers get past that one hurdle that’s standing between them and their project coming to life, and with the goal of inspiring more people to bring their ideas to life.

Join the Maker Movement

Whether you’re a hobbyist, a DIY enthusiast, or someone who just loves to create, the power to make anything you can imagine is at your fingertips. Connect with thousands of makers from across the world and browse maker projects in our Made in 3D community.

Learn more about 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers, CAD for DIY, and personal-use projects.

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.