Clarus is a technology consultancy company specializing in In-flight voice and data convergence solutions offering customized satellite communications systems. Clarus collaborates with aircraft manufacturers, modification centers and airtime service providers and typical clients are owners and operators of single general aviation aircraft, business jet operators and corporate fleets. A Clarus engineer tasked with selecting enclosure solutions for the next generation of products found ClickFold on-line when searching for custom plastic housings.
The product is a modular, compact and simple aeronautical satellite communication system solution specifically designed for commercial airlines serving the regional air transport market with smaller single aisle aircraft. The unit can be permanently installed or configured as a portable device with and optional snap-on battery pack. ClickFold was engaged early on since prototype housings were needed for the testing and certification process. It was clear that multiple iterations of the housings would be needed which made molding the parts impractical. Aluminum cases were not an option either because a metal casing would block the signals from and to the internal antenna.
A custom form factor, a two-piece modular design, a snap-lock connection, light-weight, fire-rated, and partially shielded against electromagnetic interference. ClickFold’s ability to produce several successive designs in short order was a deciding factor to meet the tight testing and certification schedule. ClickFold’s inventory of UL approved flame-retardant PC-ABS grades and our ability to selectively apply a Nickel-based conductive coating were also critical for this project. Lastly, our ability to apply the Clarus logo and necessary markings to each prototype allowed for for product demonstrations to potential buyers and the creation of marketing materials in parallel to the development process.
Engagement (Week 1)
After the initial consultation ClickFold provided Clarus with material specimens as well as EMI coated sample housings at no charge. Clarus tested these samples and determined the material and coating were adequate for the application. After the execution of a non-disclosure agreement Clarus provided their conceptional ideas to us for quoting. Several variations were quoted within the same week and Clarus placed an order for two variants.
Design & Prototyping (Week 2-3)
Clarus provided us with the files for the internal components. Within a week a ClickFold designer generated a conceptual 3-D model showing the proposed housing including all third party components. Final tweaks were made during a virtual meeting in which the designer shared his screen and CAD animation with all participants prior to the customer’s approval . ClickFold was provided with physical samples of the prototype circuitry and completed the first prototype within the following week.
FAA & FCC Approval (Week 4)
Clarus submitted this unit for FCC and FAA testing and was granted the needed approvals and certifications to proceed with the development. The PC/ABS material and Nickel-based EMI coating compared favorable with traditional aviation-grade aluminum housings.
Field Testing (Week 5)
The focus then shifted to the practical aspects of attaching the optional battery module to the unit. ClickFold provided multiple connection and snap-lock samples for evaluation by Clarus. The solution of choice was designed into the product and more units were made for field testing. After additional tweaks to the design Clarus approved the design for production.
Product Launch (in progress)
As of this writing (May 2018) Clarus is in the process of introducing the product into the market. Since ClickFold uses the same process for its prototypes that is used for subsequent production runs we are ready for productions releases as soon as these initial orders are obtained. As an added benefit there are no setup cost precluding small initial batches.