Idea to Product - The Z Wallet

Oct 31st 2022

So it took me almost 6 months but I got it done. I made my first tangible product, something that lives in the physical world and doesn't reside in the cloud. For a long time now I've toyed with the idea of leaving the digital world behind and doing something that would have some presence. So I started dipping my feet into product design. And I got hooked! After a few years went by I started thinking about it more and more, and I finally made the jump!

The first month was dedicated to learning what are my options. My decision after a month of research was to just pull the trigger and buy a CNC machine so I could make my own things. I thought about a 3D printer, but for what I wanted to do the technology is just not there yet. After the CNC arrived it was time to learn machining and the world of operating a CNC machine. Took me three days, and I was a PRO!

Just kidding :D This was probably the hardest step, I spent months and months behind the computer just watching videos and reading forums and then ultimately testing the tips and ideas out on the CNC. I broke some end mills, I broke the CNC, but I kept going. After about 3 months I really got the hang of it. And then it was time to make my first product...

My approach to this was a bit different. I decided that I was going to make only a limited number of each item so they would have a greater value to me, and to the customer. I wanted to create products that I myself would use and make a series of 77 items then move on to a new product. The products I make are going to be really minimalistic but now that the first one is out and selling I'm going to bump up the complexity and start adding electronics and tech to them, so watch this space!

Now let's move on to how my first product was made, the Z wallet! The idea was simple, a minimalist slim wooden wallet that can carry 3-5 cards and some coins, I also wanted to have a strap so it could hold some cash.

So I started sketching...

A few sketches later and I decided to make a really basic prototype just to hold it in my hands and see if I liked the size and thickness. So I made a 3D model and had id 3D printed. I used Shapeways and I could not recommend their services enough! Really cool to have professional grade 3D prints made for a super good price.

After that was made I decided to add a coin pocket under the cards for extra functionality's sake and try and try to actually think about how it would look in the end.

So from there I made a prototype out of wood and used it for a few weeks.

The next step was trying to learn from the prototypes and really try and design a pretty piece of wood that I would like to use, and look at, the prototypes were fine but they really felt unfinished and thick. I was going for something really simple and thin. So after a few days of work and 3D modeling, this came out!

I was really happy with the design, size and feel of this wallet, so the next step was to make 77 of them! I made a prototype first (I still use number 0 to this day).

And after the CNC machine was done it was time to finish the piece by hand and glue in the elastic band with some ultra hard epoxy resin for glueing in car windshields!

And here it is! In it's full glory :) I'm happy to show you the final Z wallet, all packaged up and ready to go! If you like it show me some support by grabbing one here!