Sonostar got started with ½” PVC hubs about 10 years ago. After 2 years, even with a really basic website and no SEO, we counted up that we had sold dome kits to over 50 countries. Several customers asked us to make hubs for larger domes. So 6 years ago we introduced the ‘Megahubs’ for 1” and 1.5” PVC (all Schedule 40 specs). It was a good move for us, as the megahubs are now more popular than the ½” hubs. Periodically, though, we get requests for mini-hubs, or micro-hubs, from people who want to make a model of their dome before they actually build it. Just as the hubs can be scaled up, we figured they could also be scaled down.
Mini-hubs with Standard Hubs and Megahubs
|So the R&D team took the CAD files for the megahubs and shrunk them in proportion, and then had a bunch of mini-hubs made on 3-D printers. They experimented with different resolutions, and a few different alternative shapes, and they also had to find some colored tubing that could be used to make the struts. The calculators had to be adjusted for the smaller size (the hub-width takeaway), but that was about the only difference in the math. The results were not at all surprising: mini-hubs make mini-domes that look a lot like their big brothers.|
|We think there might be a market for these. Schools buy a lot of our dome kits, but some schools just don’t have the room to build a full-size model. We’re also a little concerned that the mini-hubs could get caught in a kid’s throat if they ever tried to swallow them, and with the bigger hubs, that’s never been a worry. It would be expensive to make all the hubs using 3D printers (as we’ve done for R&D), but we could bring the price way down with an injection mold.||