Digital manufacturing leader Protolabs announced that The BOOM has been selected as a winner of the Cool Idea Award, a manufacturing grant used to help accelerate the development of innovative products.
The BOOM is an organization that empowers kids to develop skills and hands-on experience to build a brighter future. Piloting in the close-knit Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco, youths learn how to build a product—a unique, handmade boombox—and bring it to market. Apprentices are introduced to engineering-and-entrepreneurship thinking, so they can later develop their own product ideas.
Protolabs teamed up with The BOOM to manufacture a part that securely holds battery cells together to create a pack that powers the device. The mounting system holds multiple batteries securely to act as a single battery pack. BOOM’s Founder and Design Lead, John Weiss, designed the component after being frustrated by the lack of an off-the-shelf solution.
“It is exciting to have an opportunity to use our expertise to help a not-for-profit that’s doing such important work in its community,” said Robert Bodor, President and Chief Executive Officer of Protolabs. “The BOOM’s efforts provide the kinds of experiences kids need to learn about business, technology, and manufacturing in order to grow both creatively and practically.”
Protolabs provided a manufacturing grant that allowed The BOOM to develop, design, and test. What makes the part unique is that it makes battery packs expandable. The design uses an intelligent dovetail joint which couples with low-cost off-the-shelf battery spacers. The spacer nut is made of a durable nylon material using HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing process.
“Protolabs’ Cool Idea Award has been a major factor in enabling our entire educational program to move forward,” said BOOM Director, John Weiss. “Protolabs is truly making a difference in the lives of the kids we work with.”
The battery packs are used in The BOOM’s flagship device, a cool, retro boombox. Each is uniquely painted by one of 30 local artists—people who specialize in street art, tattooing, videogame art, or comic books.
“The Bayview BOOM is a true example of the power of technology democratization,” said Carlos Montesinos, research scientist and technical lead, Intel Labs. “John Weiss…is using technology, not only to solve problems, but also to bring people together, enable invention, and inspire.”
Weiss anticipates a 2021 public release of the boombox, with a simultaneous announcement of the device’s official name. Based on the success of the Bayview experience, he hopes to expand the concept to more cities across the country.
Each year, the Protolabs Foundation offers grants to 501(c)(3) organizations that help give back and strengthen our communities. Our particular focus is on STEM-based programs through our Good Ideas grant, which has helped thousands of kids in the communities we serve.
The BOOM’s mission is to reduce violence and promote emotional growth, physical activity, economic opportunity, and roots culture. The BOOM is a ground-breaking school-of-the-streets, on a mission to transform teens in crisis into homegrown engineers, entrepreneurs, and tradespeople. We teach our apprentices how to build a bumpin’ boombox, using recycled and repurposed materials. To learn more, go to theboom.org.