Product development from A to Z: ClimbStation

Kaarle Vanamo is an inventor and founder of ClimbStation – a climbing wall that is ideal for gyms, leisure centers, resorts, event and youth activities. He shares his exciting success story and the way 3D modeling with Shapr3D fits in his workflow.

The birth of ClimbStation

In 2004, when he started working on ClimbStation, there were only few locations in Finland where people could climb indoors. The available options were quite pricey because hiring an instructor to keep the activity safe was mandatory.

climb station founders

At the time, Kaarle was fascinated to do event marketing and saw climbing walls potentially successful for various events. Driven by this interest he started researching product ideas and found out about a rotating climbing wall. After discovering it in more details he was not fully satisfied with the functionality, mobility, and complexity of its user-interface. He kept on researching for better alternatives but found nothing. This is how the ClimbStation idea was born – Mr. Vanamo developed a business plan and started building the rotating climbing wall the way he thought it should be. 

“Simplicity, safety, and customer satisfaction is my focus in design and when thinking about the user experience in various fields, like event marketing use, hotels, resorts, gyms as a sport or leisure activity, the product has to serve its users and owner without troubles”.

From idea to reality

Since the first customer case in 2008, the product has been evolving every year. Rotating climbing wall is a lot more than a moving and tilting surface with handholds. ClimbStation has hundreds of details and every small part is a product itself, and in case one piece has inferior functionality – the overall experience and value for the customers can be lost.

Re-inventing the product

In the year 2015, Kaarle made his biggest R&D discovery and the whole product got re-invented. The principle of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System)  was to be integrated into a Climbing wall. With KERS system the climbers’ weight could be used as a major energy source to move the climbing belt adding safety, functionality and energy saving.

climbstation 3d model

In terms of re-engineering the designs together with the 3D designer studio, Vanamo got more into the workflow of sketching and giving real-life experience feedback to the designer.

“After I found Shapr3D and figured out its user interface, I saw it could speed up the R&D process from sketch to prototype and to a final model. After practicing to use Shapr3D for a few weeks, I was able to make suggestions and even model some simple parts to test different solutions.”
climbstation back and front in 3d

Easy 3D CAD speeds up product development

The process of sharing information with the professionals has been time-consuming, but now with Shapr3D he can streamline the workflow, further design and test some parts before taking them to an expert for final review. According to Kaarle, “Sometimes the best solutions are found without any professional engineering expert – some of the simplest and best designs come along with experience and not professional education”.

climbstation 3d model transform tool
“I find it very useful to be able to demonstrate and to talk about everything, for example, to show potential service points. With Shapr3D I can basically show how to open a cover and whats behind it. I can also fine tune the colors and take beautiful screenshots without any hassle.” 

3D modeling in Shapr3D as a part of the workflow 

station parts 3d modeling
“One of many examples we used Shapr3D for is our linear actuator and spring combination. In the ClimbStation we use two powerful linear actuators and springs to balance the load. To make it easy to build, safe and reliable, it has taken several designs of this detail before finding its final shape. With iPad and Shapr3D the process got faster.”
3d model
“I used to work with outsourced design studios and previously used to provide them only hand drawings or emails instead of more detailed sketches. With Shapr3D I am able to provide more detailed sketches to share the concept ideas or even make the required part fast by myself.”
product construction climbstation

Small details can cause big troubles

Below is an example of how a small problem can be big enough to delay delivery. The cord did not fit and even in the case it would have fit, the system was very hard to built.

“With Shapr3D I could easily find a simple solution of making a removable end-gap which would both help the wiring, but also make it faster to install and simple to manufacture.”
model designed in shapr3d in reality

The future 

climbstation at the gym

ClimbStation has a lot of potential and there is so much more to improve.  For example, the International Olympic Committee, among other things, approved sports climbing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Housing development is looking forward to incorporating more health facilities. Overall, today people are more inclined to improve their health and wellbeing. 

“Right now, I am focusing on expanding the product portfolio and see Shapr3D as a useful tool in this process.”

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