The Challenge.

Voltera’s team identified a clear problem in circuit board prototyping: it takes too long. Hardware developers have to wait multiple days for vendors to deliver circuit board prototypes. Either that, or they have to rely on time consuming DIY methods. Uncover a simple error in an early-stage prototype, and all of a sudden your team has to settle in for another agonizing days-long wait. It’s a slow to fail system that presents a huge opportunity cost by forcing engineers to sit on their hands.

Voltera’s idea had huge market potential: a desktop circuit board printer for cost-effective rapid prototyping that allows engineers to fail sooner and iterate faster than ever before.

Their team was established. Alroy, James, Jesus and Caterina were exceptional engineers with tons of motivation and experience as founders. Their original prototype for the V-One was a great proof of concept. It was also complex, expensive build that wasn’t ready for market. Voltera reached out to Cortex to reduce the product’s complexity and develop a look and feel that would showcase the V-One as the electronics development revolution it promised to be.

Shots of the original Voltera prototype:

The Insight.

  • Design and Engineering Must be Closely Integrated. We worked with Voltera on a startup budget to amplify their internal engineering skills with outsourced designers who know what it takes to scale a product for production.

  • A Simplification of Process Demands a Simple Design. The V-One had potential to make lives radically easier for engineers, so our design had to ooze simplicity and ease-of-use. A simpler design also reduced both failure points and cost.

  • Multiplex the Dispenser. The product should use the same mechanism to dispense trace and dispense paste. Multiplexing this mechanism reduced the number of parts and made the V-One more intuitive.


Cortex Fundamental Deliverables.

  • Engineering Plays Well With Designers Who Talk the Talk. Because we spoke the same engineering language as Voltera’s accomplished team, we could propose design solutions knowing they would scale.

  • Simplicity Helps Prove Market Feasibility. The simplest possible design helped Voltera minimize manufacturing time and cost, which generated huge interest from potential users and investors.

  • The Power of Working with True Believers. When we saw the V-One’s prototype, we already wanted one. It’s easy to solve useability issues when you are the target market. In fact, we’re now the proud owners of the V-One, serial #000000001.

The Result.

  • Voltera raised over $500,000 on Kickstarter, 5x their original goal.
  • The V-1 is now on the market worldwide, with planned expansion into features like flexible circuit board printing, through-hole production, and general fluidic dispenser testbeds for application outside the circuit board industry.

Awards and Accolades.

  • Voltera was named one of the Top 25 Fastest Growing companies in Canada in 2018.
  • Global James Dyson Award Winner, 2015.
  • Listed as one of Popular Science’s Inventions of the Year, 2015.

© 2019 Cortex Design Inc.

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