Through-out this project, I have created multiple concepts, started and scrapped lots of different ideas but ultimately, I have had a vision for my bicycle-suitable pet carry case from the start. Initially I was thinking more about the aesthetic of the product, and may have forgot it's initial function: suitability and safety on the bike. Yet, as I refined more and more, I saw the final outcome come to life and encompass all I had wanted to achieve in the final outcome of the project.
After sketching a few experimental concepts, I decided upon final form of the American postal box shape that was inspired by a comment life in a bicycle forum about making suitable cages for smaller pets. I was next working on the locking mechanism, doors and secondary function to create the final outcome.
As my target market will have smaller homes, they will need more innovative storage and multifunctional usage out of the product. In this set of designs I deliberated with hanging the carry case come cat bed from the ceiling or off at an angle from the wall so it did not take up much floor space. I used the front door to double up as stairs so that the cat can access the bed.
In my research, I found that a lot of pannier storage products have hanging storage either side of the wheels and I wanted to include this in my final concept. However, I also wanted to find an innovative way of utilizing it when not in use. I dabbled with options such as making a tent-like cat bed using the side doors and the stretchy pannier fabric.
I moved on to deciding what storage could be used for in the pannier storage. I thought about utilizing it solely for the pet including water bottles, food, treats. toys or smells to calm them when they are in the carry case in addition to storage for the primary user of the cyclist for their possessions.
I though about utilizing all three doors that I had created use as a way of picking the bed off the floor. The exposed carry case could have elements like a hammock, scratching posts or a place to hang toys.
I thought about more flexible options that could possibly fold down into a bag, but later chose against this as a hard shelled option was more beneficial for both primary and secondary stakeholders for safety.
I took inspiration from other markets, such as the baby pram market, and the natural world which is where inspirations for ideas such as this armadillo-looking concept came from.
I looked at the possibility of detaching the base from the top for easy removal of the cat inside, as I found from research that shaking or grabbing at the cat in the carry case is both harmful to yourself and your pet. I also looked more into using the front door as stairs and putting the case on legs as the bed. I started to think about the whole picture including consideration for an comfy, ergonomic handle and possibly ways of attaching to the pannier.The majority the models I had found in my trips to Halfords and research online for pannier storage used Velcro as a main way of securing the storage. I knew I had to create a secure locking system that users would have confidence in and trust.
Again, I dabbled back and forth with armadillo-inspired doors and combing hard shell with fabric.
I realised that the most important element to my design would be the safe and secure way it was locked into place. This would be the factor that would separate it from the existing models on the market and be a leading USP of why customers would choose my product over other options. I looked into inspiration from ski boot locking mechanisms and twist locking mechanisms but I found these would all be distressing for the animal when they were in the carry case. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that a sliding locking mechanism would be the least disruptive for the pet.
I looked at racking systems and chest of drawers for initial inspiration.
I looked at everyday mechanisms such as the Devlin clip or the Clip and Lock mechanism seen a lot on Tupperware.
I realised the base of my carry case would need some sort of lip on the front and back end to help lock into place.
I began to get closer to my final outcome as I decided upon a housing to secure the front end into place, a bar path to allow a sliding motion into the mechanism and a double clip lock element to secure all the elements into place.
I thought about also using this sliding mechanism to incorporate my additional storage option.
However, I found that a T-bolt would be much stronger and much easier for manufacture than my straight edge or even dovetail sliding mechanism. This would give additional strength in the base and add an extra locking point on the base.
I also thought about how the doors would securely lock and though about different strap options.
I identified all the different options I had created in my head and made some final decisions to simplify the idea as much as I could without compromising the design. By simplifying the idea, it would illiminate unnecessary features, one of those being the front door.
The final concept only has the two side doors to allow easy and stress-free access to the pet. In addition to the straps, there will also be a magnetic door to ensure a safer locking mechanism.
I did some rough sketch work of adding the holes for air flow and how these would be positioned on the sides and back of the carry case.
Exploring handle options was also important to create an ergonomic and comfy carry system.
I decided to raise the bottom more after the success I saw with the sketch model and giving the cage a more box-like feel. This created a more curious and comfy environment for the cat.
I decided the easiest way to attach the base to the carrier was with a series of P-clips that are widely used in the cycling world.
Providing a set of screw, bolts and P-clips would allow the user to attach the perminant base to their personal pannier.
My final design includes the Sikker base that locks onto the pannier mount and the Svane pet carry case and pet bed.
The final design includes:
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