The Story of the KILN
emergence of the kiln
Adam is one of the founding members of Guitaring Passionately who has been repairing and restoring guitars in Singapore for more than a decade. He discovered that acoustic guitars in regions of high humidity will carry a problem called "WET" acoustic guitars. Excessive moisture in guitars resulted in bulging guitar tops that diminished playability and tonal qualities of guitars.
Larry whom is close to Adam became his sounding board. Both of them were very passionate solving "WET" guitar issues and they were in constant discussions of numerous possible methods. Suffice to say that Larry's influences were important in establishing the cornerstone of this pursuit.
In his attempt to help guitar enthusiasts to counter this chronic issue, he has found no dedicated solutions for it. While many guitar enthusiasts contributed their ideas in guitar forums, these methods were only at best means of improvisation. Henceforth, searching for dedicated solutions to tackle this problem has been his obsession. Eventually "the KILN" is created…
proof of concept
The first prototype was made to validate the design concepts. Using ice cream sticks and adhesive tapes, the geometry of "the KILN" was conceived. The overall shape and form must meet these requirements,
Inserting the prototype into acoustic guitars without contacting any parts of guitar or removal of strings
Prototype's geometry must have provision to position heating element directly beneath guitar's bridge area
Prototype's geometry must possessed self-balanced property
Prototype can be tucked under guitar strings
In satisfying the requirements, "the KILN" has taken on an asymmetrical U-shaped side profile.
sizing the heater
Guitars are bought but to guitar enthusiasts their guitars are usually priceless. It was imperative to avoid inflicting damages to any guitars. Great length was taken to make sure that wouldn't happen. The efforts have resulted in these major considers being taken during the design stages,
Dehumidification temperature range
Acceptable temperature fluctuation range
Size of heating element
AC or DC power source
Repeated validation tests were conducted to determine the "right size".
early prototypes making
From May 2010 to May 2012, four graduating prototypes have emerged. They were derived from numerous experiments and repeated tests.
Adam was very concerned about effectiveness of "the KILN" and safety of end-users' guitars. Most acoustic guitars were held together by either hide or synthetic glue. Such glues will weaken at about 65ºC. Therefore "the KILN" mustn't produce such heat level.
Dehumidification needs heat energy. To be effective, items to be dehumidified should be within environment of 40ºC to 48ºC. Therefore "the KILN" must delivered that temperature range.
After consulting experts in electrical design, Adam has decided on DC powered heating elements. He went on to hand built prototypes to validate the effectiveness of "the KILN". Through repeated iterations, the prototypes have delivered the expected heat characteristics.
Each stage brought "the KILN closer to fruition. It was then, "the KILN" was poised to enter into Industrial Design phase.
Adam teamed up with Samuel Chan who is the other founding member of Guitaring Passionately to embark onto Industrial Design phase. A team of Industrial Designers were appointed and in October 2012 project "the KILN" was kick started.
Trimming the divergence of ideas into a few preferred forms.
The preferred ones…
Arguably laying out the electrical components was one of the toughest challenges we faced thus far. The team would like "the KILN" to be compact and slick. These requirements have created challenges in finding space to house the electrical components. The team of Industrial Designers were fully stretched.
Adam and Samuel recognized that visual impression is critical to users' acceptance to the product. The team of Industrial Designers have spared no efforts in creating rendered images to create the necessary visual impact. Below are four of many rendered images to aid them in visualizing the product appearances.
Brain-storming continued. Adam and Samuel worked with the team of Industrial Designers to narrow the best suited and workable designs. Below are two final proposals and Adam and Samuel have selection the design on the left which is proposal 1.
Among guitar enthusiasts, the love for guitars is often communicated through the beauty extroverted from the curves and shapes on guitars. Invariably, certain visual cues were incorporated that speak to guitar enthusiasts. The team want these features to give feelings of familiarity and comfort to guitar enthusiasts.
Below are some examples of such features.
Apart from aesthetic quality, the team wanted to ensure "the KILN" ease of assembly during production phase. The matings of parts within were carefully designed with many technical and manufacturing considerations.
Finally, Adam and Samuel have narrowed down to Design Proposal 01. The path towards the selected design was indeed exciting.
A well designed product will not go without quality packaging. Likewise, the Industrial Designers maintained their high standards of delivery.
Finally the Industrial Design phase was concluded in December 2013. The final design embodied the KILN's operating principles, functional features, ergonomics design and aesthetics value. The team was delighted with the outcome.
full functional prototyping
Full Functional Prototyping
Adam was well aware of guitar enthusiasts' love for their guitars. Therefore no compromise was allowable. The team went ahead to make fully functional prototypes to validate our design concepts.
Certain issues were surfaced when prototypes were made. The heat produced by the heating element was sufficient to soften the plastic housing. Immediately the Industrial Designers switched to plastics of higher heat resistance properties. To facilitate injection molding, the team made design changes to some plastic parts. There were others… the team tackled them one at a time with opened minds.
After a few prototypes, the team managed to eradicate the detected issues. The prototypes were subjected to further validation tests. Picture below is prototype 001.
On right two pictures showed prototype 001 being subject to validation tests.
Multiple sensors were positioned within and outside the test guitars. We were delighted with the temperature and humidity readings. We concluded that prototype 001 has arrived.