The day actually began much like any other. After my colleagues from Prototype Construction and I had spent the morning working on our projects, we made our way to the canteen. When we arrived, we were genuinely surprised to find not only our lunch but also a ‘special assignment’ waiting for us. The head of the filter element development department wanted us to produce a box for a filter element at short notice. No problem! After all, we have several ultra-modern 3D printers in operation, which are perfectly suited to this kind of task.
However, as is so often the way in life, all was not as it initially seemed. As soon as I saw the filter element lying on the table, the decision to make the box using the 3D printer was already out the window. The element was simply too big. We needed to come up with another solution – and quickly! The reason for this was that the box needed to be attached to the roof of a car and presented to the public in the next few days. This wasn’t just any vehicle either, but MANN+HUMMEL’s fine dust eater, which had already been in operation for several months cleaning fine dust from the air of Stuttgart and the surrounding area.
There was still a long way to go before our box looked like it does in the pictures though. As printing was no longer an option, we started experimenting with cardboard. We cut out all kinds of designs and constructed them around the filter element – somehow, we needed to make it smaller, more convenient and more aerodynamic. Easier said than done but, with some creativity and improvisation skills, we eventually managed to arrive at the right shape.
We were then able to use this as a template for the sheet metal that we wanted to use to make the box. Once we had cut out and welded the individual parts, there it was: the first mobile roof box for the fine dust eater.
However, as this was to be a public engagement, the prototype wasn’t finished yet. The box still needed to be primed and painted and, of course, the MANN+HUMMEL logo also had to be added. Making all this a reality really wasn’t so easy as the box had to be left to dry for a while after every step.
But this too was a success and, with the help of a re-purposed ski rack, we were finally able to attach the box to the roof of the fine dust eater, just in time for the press event and public presentation. By the way: there are now three fine dust eater vehicles on the road in the Stuttgart area and the roof boxes have continued to evolve. However, our first model is still in use.