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Printed With Formlabs

At Formlabs we’re extremely proud and excited to be a part of Dame’s success story by providing the 3D printers and materials Dame uses to prototype and evolve the designs of their award-winning products.

Taylor Made golf club

Closing the Pleasure Gap

The co-founders of Dame Products had an idea for a new product: a vibrator created by women to address the pleasure gap in the bedroom. What started as a silver-dollar coin and plastic wrap, quickly turned into sketches, models, and a business plan to sell an innovative new sex toy for women. The company started by shopping the product around to design studios, who came back with pitch decks and a six figure price tag. To make an innovative product, the team had to look elsewhere.

Turning to crowdsourcing, Dame launched Eva on Indiegogo. The product was a hit, and Dame became the top Indiegogo campaign for an all-female team.

To co-founder Alexandra Fine, the emergence of crowdfunding and in-house 3D printing is an example of how democratizing technology has made product development more accessible for women making products that they need. Categories often ignored, such as sexual wellness and pleasure, can now be better addressed by people not previously in a position to do so. Now, more diverse designers have access to tools, and money, necessary to incorporate the end-users right into the design process, creating a better product in long-neglected categories.

Alexandra Fine – Dame quote

“We created Dame Labs to conduct much needed people-centered research. Through this collaborative effort, we strengthen our commitment to closing the pleasure gap for good.”

Alexandra Fine, CEO and Cofounder of Dame Products

Building a Community, to Build a Product.

Designing ubiquitous products is hard, especially for intimate products used on the human body. The Dame team found two ways to solve this problem: print multiple, affordable in-house prototypes to tweak and test every angle, and collect plenty of customer feedback.

“We created Dame Labs to conduct much needed people-centered research. Through this collaborative effort, we strengthen our commitment to closing the pleasure gap for good.”

Dame Labs was established early on to elicit feedback from users. Sexual experience is a private matter for many people, which is why Dame Engineering Technician Jaechelle Johnson is so proud of the community Dame has created. “When people are displeased with the product, we often get very thorough emails about what didn’t work. The fact people share intimate details about their sex lives with us, in order to help us build a better product, is a sign that we are cultivating the right community. A community that supports each other without judgment. That’s how we know we’re heading in the right direction with our products, and serving a market that needs to be served. That type of feedback is always added to our design process.”

Taylor Made 3D printed golf club heads
Taylor Made golf club

Using Tools to Create Tools

For feedback to be useful, it has to be actionable. To actually bring Dame users into the development process so their input could be used to create tools to close the pleasure gap, the company first had to invest in its own set of production tools: 3D printers.

The team tried outsourcing 3D printing, but felt they had too little control of quality. Costs and shipping times were also inadequate to meet the fast prototyping speed the team was looking to achieve. Dame decided to invest in both FDM and SLA 3D printers; SLA printers have become invaluable when creating silicone molds, or when the team needs a part that both looks and feels like their final product.

Creating silicone molds in-house has been an integral part of process to create better fitting, feeling, and functioning sex toys. Dame engineers have so fully integrated the Formlabs printer into their workflow, that they now prototype dozens of overmolded devices in one day by rotating through three or four 3D printed molds. While the silicone rubber of one prototype is curing, the next can be de-molded and prepared for the next fill; finishing and cleaning of de-molded prototypes happen in parallel. The team believes they could get the same accuracy with a CNC machine, or an industry level printer, but not at a price point accessible to them.

“I use the SLA resin printer when I want to see how two plastic housings will fit together - because the accuracy is unparalleled.”

The outcome is beautiful, ergonomically designed products. While sex toys are often hidden in the closet, Dame products are aesthetically pleasing and look at home in any modern bedroom.

Having a robust in-house molding process helps in other ways - turning organic conversations in the office into tangible objects. This is best illustrated by Grip. The idea started as an off-hand comment, but the team got to work printing designs. The entire process took two weeks. Without in-house 3D printing, the team doesn’t believe this would have been possible. According to Mechanical Engineer Amanda Couto, “3D printing let’s you take a guess, and check it. You don't have to follow standard procedure for every device. If you think a different angle or shape will work, you can now check it on your own.”

“I could not do my job without 3D printing. To affordably model things that exist in 3D space, it is truly invaluable. I don't know how Dame would exist without it.”

Dame mold making

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Women’s Bodies Are Their Own Business. Literally.

Since their first indiegogo campaign, Dame’s innovative sexual wellness products have become a hit in the market. Created with an unflinching commitment to people-centered research and community input, the company has generated attention from some of the most prestigious technology and business publications. Most importantly, Dame Labs continues to grow, creating new ideas for the team’s engineers to print.

When the Dame team considers all that has happened since their first product shipped - the kickstarter launch, the design challenges overcome, the growing support network for women to discuss their sexual health - they see something more important than sales metrics: confidence. Now, the team is developing new exciting products, focusing on rapid prototyping, and exceeding expectations their users have set.

“Every step has given us validation that kept us moving forward. You don't need a product development firm, there is a lot you can do at home, in the office, to better understand the risks, to build your confidence, to empower the team, to empower customers to have better sex lives. Sales and revenue are important metrics, but to have the chance to make an actual change in our customer’s lives, that ties into something bigger than just selling products. In our own way, this company can change the world, by challenging how the world thinks about women designing their own products, their own companies.”

And that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

Mobile design sketches
Hear From Amanda Couto and Jaechelle Johnson.

Four Questions For An Engineer

Q: What is your favorite resin?

A: Clear Resin because if it’s not broken don’t change it! Clear Resin has always worked great for us.

Q: Do you print at 100 μm or 50 μm?

A: Always 50 μm. We noticed a difference, 50 μm is smooth enough for us to use and to understand how final parts will feel.

Q: What do you like better, FDM or SLA printers?

A: Both! We use FDM early in the process, for looking at the basic form factor of a product. Later in the process we switch to SLA, when we care more about the look and feel, and when we need accuracy.

Q: What about your products has made you proud?

A: Proud of the community we have cultivated. Watching our customers and readers become comfortable talking about their sexuality, and supporting each other without judgment.

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