Vype Pebble takes palm-sized approach to vaping

12 December 2016

Pocket-sized Pebble vaping device moves design away from ghost of cigarettes as part of British American Tobacco Group’s new generation of products

Vaping, for all the polarising opinions is garners, is about as fast growing an industry as you could find in 2016, and the design of these e-cigarettes vary from discrete devices, glowing homages to the rolled tobacco sticks they replace, or glowing, lightsaber-esque ‘vape cannons’.

The need to stamp a presence on such a growing market led British American Tobacco to create a new style of device, the Pebble.

The product needed to be showy yet discrete, organic yet futuristic, shaped in a way that is distinctive yet moves away from the frowned upon practice of cigarettes - the design team behind the Vype Pebble had their work cut out.

Working with design agency Creata, the process began with current product knowledge and consumer needs, applying these improvements to the product.

Daily meetings across time zones brought together expertise from design teams based in the UK and US as user experience, product performance, safety, testing, manufacturing and cost requirements all came into play.

A ‘stylish yet discrete’ pocket-sized concept was decided on, with Creata drawing up concept sketches using Wacom Cintiq displays.

The aim was to bring the product back to simplicity and minimalism in a world of complex gadgets - so the hand sketched lines were organic in shape, fusing ergonomics and the smooth lines of a washed pebble.

The premise of Vype Pebble is ‘small yet mighty’, so the design was challenged by the need of miniaturising technology to create a compact product without compromising the user experience.

Technology such as a buttonless ‘puff activated’ operation had to be designed with ergonomics as part of the consideration while cartridges containing the liquid would come in an individual case for hygiene and portability.

Safety also played a part with the device needing to deliver a hot vapour, but not overheat in such a small cartomizer, so a new electrical safety system was built in.

The 3D CAD model was developed in SolidWorks to encompass all the electronic features, while the plastic casing was optimised for manufacture by being simulated in Moldflow to overcome potential moulding defects in the complex geometry of the cartomizer, without making the manufacturing over complex and cost too high.

The design was optimised for the user with physical prototypes, using 3D printed iterations of the Pebble to test feel, appearance, and even how the form could be adjusted to meet the all important manufacturing process.

The final product is set to become one of the most widely marketed e-cigarette products in the world, as the tobacco industry at large strives to create safer alternatives to smoking - having created a vaping product that can be discreetly hidden by those trying to kick their habit, yet attractive enough to be shown off by those wanting to flash their new technology.

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