I would like to take you on a trip from my head to creating My JQ's ReefShack LLC Locking Coral Frag Transport Carrier. I had many ideas in my head to figure out how to make this possible. There was already Coral carriers out there but I had an idea that made it cheaper to assemble and better; in regards to the spacing the corals had next to each other and overall functionality. I wanted the corals to have real estate plus i wanted to be able to source all my products to be affordable to produce.
I already had a CNC machine that i build custom sumps and tanks with, so I already had the tool to make my carriers but i wanted something different, something like no one else has made. After long thought i decided to buy a 3D Printer. I chose a cheap Prusa i3 Chinese knockoff off Ebay to try out to make sure it was something i wanted to do. Then after learning how to assemble and use it i had to relearn CAD / 3D modeling. Im old now but in high school i was very good at 3D modeling and animation. So much that i was offered a scholarship to Full Sail, an Animation college. I decided to join the Army instead of going to Full Sail as I was good at animation but never interested in it.
The 3D printer had a learning curve but after coming up with different designs i soon realized i needed a 3d Printer that was capable of more detailed prints. I soon got an Original Prusa MK2s with the Multi Material upgrade. That set me back 1K but was well worth it. After getting it and designing my 4th iteration of my coral carrier i finally had a working prototype. Then i had to find the rest of what i needed. I needed a clear container with a lid that screws on and doesn't leak. I found some jars and bought them. I soon found out the plastic used to make the jars was very brittle and did not survive shipping. I knew instantly i needed another option so i researched and went with a different plastic. I finally found what i was looking for.
The company i got the jars from kept sending me jars that were broken and it was obvious they were just drop shipping them and not checking for quality so i found the manufacturer of the jars and skipped the extra step. This cut cost down as well and with the implementation of the reduced cost of the cup and the 3d printed carrier it made it easier to make it more affordable to all. When i started mass producing to keep up with amazon demand I had to print 24/7. Each carrier took 8 hours to print and this wasn't even the locking part yet.
Sales went through the roof and I couldn't believe with the little marketing i did i had such good sales. Customers wanted a locking feature though so i started working on that. I wanted to make a fully 3D printed Locking carrier. I fell short as i tried multiple different filaments together and couldn't find two that stuck together good enough. After many attempts and hearing the competition bash my ideas i decided to cut the rubber gaskets needed to make this task possible. However i have not given up yet, i believe there is a filament that will do the trick eventually just not yet.
Cutting the rubber gaskets was a task in itself i converted my old 3d printer into a laser cnc and tried cutting the gaskets that way. The laser was not powerful enough to make the cut clean. i knew i would need a co2 laser but did not have one at the time or a Cricut or vinyl cutting machine. I decided to try out a $100 dragknife on my CNC and was surprised at the results. it cut it like butter and fast too!! i was in business but i need to find a better way to hold down the rubber and where to source the rubber affordably.
After building a makeshift vacuum table i was set. I decided to redesign the original final design of the carrier to print in 2 pieces. This allowed me to print it upside down and safe on support material and printing time. I cut print time down to 5 hours from 8 hours. Then, i added threads and printed out the bolts needed to secure the gasket in place. I was very happy and started to sell it on amazon, eBay and here on my web page. Now people can carry their frags home from Coral shows like Reefapalooza or from their favorite local fish store. Even if that is not JQs ReefShack LLC. Who knows whats next but I have already set my sights on getting them to be on Bulk Reef Supply!! Wish me luck!
Enjoy the hobby, Reef on, and make Aquariums Great Again!!