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Wheel Shields: Innovative Longboarding Accessories

August 21, 2013

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Chase Kaczmarek, the founder and inventor of Wheel Shields. The story of how he took his invention from the drawing board, through 20 different prototypes and design iterations in under 12 months is compelling. (Check out their recently launched Kickstarter Campaign!) In this post, we delve into some of the techniques and methodologies that were used to develop and prototype this new longboarding accessory. These tips and lessons are great for anyone working on their latest DIY skateboard project. If you have an idea for a new great longboarding product you will find these tips and techniques from the Wheel Shields story extremely useful.

The Idea

Wheel Shields is a unique accessory for your longboard that is guaranteed to prevent wheel bite, and will also act as a “fender” keeping the top of you board dry when riding on wet road conditions. There is one shield for each wheel, and each shield is made from sturdy aircraft grade aluminum (light-weight and strong).

Paper to Product

It all started with Chase’s original post on Reddit. He was in the process of finalizing his patent when he connected with Christopher Wagner, an engineer and product developer. Although they lived hundreds of miles apart, working together via email they were able to rapidly execute a number of product development cycles: design, prototype, test, improve.

 

Early Plastic Prototype

 

Initial prototype versions of the Wheel Shields were made out of plastic. They used Shapeways, an online 3D printing service, to create plastic versions of their initial designs. The quality of the prototypes was great but turnaround time and shipping time significantly lengthened the product development cycle. After a number of design iterations Chase purchased a 3D printer (Solidoodle 3, $799) to reduce fabrication time between each iteration of the design. With a 3D printer in hand, Chase learned to use 3D CAD design software (SolidWorks) and was soon printing and designing with shorter product development cycles than before.

 

Wheel Shields CAD Design IterationsDesign Iterations

 

One of the biggest design challenges for Wheel Shields was creating a design that prevented the Wheel Shield from rotating about the longboard truck axle. It soon became clear that the standard longboard truck axle nut does not have sufficient rotational resistance to prevent the shields from rotating. Chase and Christopher experimented with adding a series of spring-like arms to the inside of the mount. These arms were designed to clamp down and provide a sturdy slip proof attachment upon tightening of the nut. However, this design still did not provide sufficient resistance to prevent the Shields from rotating.

The final solution that the Wheel Shields team came up with to solve this challenge is really neat. The mount system consists of two nuts, one on either side of the Wheel Shield. The inner nut holds the wheel and bearing in place. The Wheel Shield has an inner keyed mount that fits securely around this inner nut. The outer nut is tightened to secure the wheel shield in place onto the inner nut. “If the Shield wants to rotate clockwise, it is stopped by the bearing. If the Shield wants to rotate counterclockwise, it is stopped by the outer nut,” says Chase.

 

Wheel Shield Mount Dual Nut Locking MechanismDouble Nut Wheel Shield Mount

 

The design was not the only thing that the team at Wheel Shields experimented with. They tried all sorts of plastics (ABS, PLA, Glass-injected nylon, to name a few) but ended up selecting aluminum because of its durability and strength to weight characteristics. After much experimenting, tinkering, and testing of more than 20 different designs, Chase and Christopher had finalized the the design of Wheel Shields.

 

Final DesignFinal Design for Wheel Shields

So there you have it! The finalized Wheel Shields, thoroughly designed and rigorously tested. We’d like to thank Chase and the team and Wheel Shields for making this post possible and provide all the details and photos.

 

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