All the latest news, events and developments
Here at Cubik we always like a good chat and as with any new customer they usually come with lots of questions!
Working with such a wide range of customers at the earliest stage of their journey means we are afforded a rare and exciting insight into current problems faced when making an electronic product.
Every product is different and comes with its own requirements, however we have a tried and tested process that we believe ensures successful product design.
Recently, Director Paul Mullen and Business Manager Sophie Adams-Foster were invited by SETSquared at The Engine Shed to run a workshop to help demystify the development process for electronic products.
Outlining the development cycle, the workshop specifically looked at the planning stages of developing an idea and the value it can bring to not only the products itself, but also the business behind it.
Also covered in the workshop was a brief introduction to CE Marking, Routes to Market and the pit falls of using Open Sourced design in the prototyping stage.
The workshop was a full house, attended by SETSquared members, mentors and University staff and students from a variety of backgrounds, hosted by Monika Radcliffe.
All attendees contributed to the session and asked a variety of interesting and challenging questions.
Feedback has been hugely positive and there has already been requests for additional workshops focusing on specific issues so watch this space!
As we dive into 2017, here at Cubik we find that the beginning of the new year is the perfect, albeit very busy time to reflect on the events of the previous year, for Cubik, 2016 was a year of success and growth with many positive changes taking place throughout the year…
January 2016 – The beginning of the year saw the team at Cubik nursing sore heads from the Christmas break but raring to get their teeth into the many exciting new projects we had lined up leading us right through to February.
We kicked off March with the upheaval of our production lab to make room for a dedicated mechanical assembly area for one of our customers. We also sponsored Wessex TSG (Tears, Sweat & Glory) who took part in PLOD - Cotswold Way 2016 for children’s charity Action Medical Research, an event which we were proud to be a part of! We rounded off the month with our MD Paul Mullen appearing in the Bristol Post on the 30th of March for the Big Business Interview. Little did Paul know that his face was soon to be seen in many other publications throughout the South West.
April – April was an exceptionally busy month where we held interviews with potential candidates for our 2016 Internship Programme with masses of talent on display for the role and a tough choice ahead for Cubik Management.
Shortly after this the tables were turned as an interview took place between South West Business News and our Director Paul Mullen for their April Big Interview piece where Pauls love for technology was personified in a terrific article written by Gavin Thompson:
Cubik were then also fortunate enough to be featured in the Innovation Space Blog for CFMS where another great piece was written, this time describing what sits at the heart of what Cubik do:
May – The month of May was another extremely busy one for us, starting with Cubik being featured in a brilliant article for Insider South West which showcased our talented apprentices, then our Project Management team attended the South West Business Showcase 2016 and were on the lookout for innovative design ideas. Also during May, Cubik were able to represent their love of supporting the local community by renewing their sponsorship of Cleve RFC for another year and in the new sponsorship of Team Bath Racing.
June – We welcomed our new Design Manager Matthew Griffiths and our latest Design Engineer Eli Plaza to the team who everyone were quick to get settled in, the Cubik way. We were also pleased to receive work experience pupil George Lear from Mangotsfield School. After George had been shown the ropes for the week he produced a terrific journal to demonstrate the knowledge he had gained in the short time he’d spent with us.
June was also month of planning, with the whole team preparing for the move to larger premises.
July – It was all hands-on deck as Cubik waved goodbye to the Bristol & Bath Science Park where we had spent four happy years as tenants, but waved hello to a new larger space in Verona House located just down the road and still within our Bristol home. The change in premises gave another injection of growth into our production lab, providing us with greater capabilities for batch and prototype manufacture. July also saw us receive another work experience student, Will Couch, who was this time we welcomed from BTE Academy. We also extended a warm welcome to our new Office Coordinator, Mercedes Tilling, who was our first recruit in the new building and who was closely followed by our 2016 Design Engineer Intern, Charlie Freestone, who hails from Plymouth University, these new recruits saw our team grow to a 19 strong force.
August – Once again here at Cubik we showed our commitment to ISO standards and quality processes and procedures as we were yet again awarded our ISO9001:2008 certificate after passing our 2016 audit.
September 2016 saw Cubik mark its 4th Birthday with the whole Cubik family tucking into a glorious cake to mark the occasion!
We were also able to attend a few Tech events in the month including the End of Summer Big Breakfast held at the Engine Shed Bristol and also Venturefest Wales where we thoroughly enjoyed networking with likeminded businesses. Our Technical PM Luke Davies was also lucky enough to attend the Protrack Seminar in Gloucester and came away with a generous goody bag!
Another development within September was our partnership with the West of England Growth Hub, a partnership which we are very excited about and are sure will produce many good things in the future.
Cubik concluded the month by supporting the Macmillan Coffee Morning where one of our resourceful engineers brought in DIY smores, yummy and all for charity!
October – Our hard work throughout the year was recognised when we were shortlisted for the SME Manufacturing Company of the Year award at the Made in the South West Awards 2016 which was attended by both our MD Paul Mullen and Technical PM Luke Davies who both enjoyed the evenings events and even though we didn’t take home the prize, it was still brilliant to be nominated for such a prestigious award.
Within October we also saw Cubik’s very first Annual Pumpkin Carve Off which was held on the Friday before Halloween and where the whole Cubik family were encouraged to carve a frightful pumpkin, we even invited Amalgam Models to compete for the prize!
November – Another event to round off the calendar was the Bristech Conference held at the Bristol Watershed and was attended by our Business Manager Sophie Adams-Foster. After the event, Sophie advised that she had met some truly interesting people throughout the day and had come away with many new ideas for the business.
November also saw Cubik become a member of the Made in Britain campaign, an achievement which we are especially proud of here at Cubik due to our commitment to manufacture all of our products within the UK.
December – Snowmen, snowmen everywhere! We rounded off a fantastic year by treating our customers/friends to a PCB themed Snowman Christmas card game. The PCB was designed by our 3rd Year Production Apprentice, Shannon Cribb and the system was designed by 2nd Year Production Apprentice, Barney Smith, we’ve heard that they have gone down a treat so we will need to get our thinking hats on for next year’s card!
As we look ahead to the new projects which 2017 will bring, we start the year with a free 2 hour SETsquared workshop at the Engine Shed Bristol on the 17th of January, presented by our MD Paul Mullen:
Another item on the cards for the New Year will be for an Open Day to be held at our offices in Verona House to invite customers and friends to our new office, so watch this space!
We would all like to finish by saying a huge thank you to everyone who we have had the pleasure of working with over the past year, the support and collaborations we’ve had have been fundamental to our growth and development into the Cubik we are today so we wish you all a very Happy New Year!
Discount Ends Friday 18th November
Cubik Innovation have received notification that an expected production batch for November has been postponed which has left us with spare capacity on our line. In order to make good use of the production time, we would like to offer the spare production capacity to our customers at a reduced rate.
Place an order with us by close of play on Friday 18th November to be eligible to a 10% discount on your order.
We have limited slots, only the first 3 customers to apply will be accepted for this offer.
Call us on: 0117 244 3000 or Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year was quite the year for Cubik Innovation. As a company we won Start-up Business of the Year at the Bristol Post 2015 Business Awards. Ending the summer with our Managing Director being Highly Commended in the Small Company Director Category at the Institute of Directors South West Region at the Director of the Year Awards. In all, not a bad year for our exciting young team.
Following on from last year’s success, Cubik Innovation was recently shortlisted for the SME Manufacturing Company of the Year (Turnover below £25m) award at the Insider Media Ltd “Made in the South West Awards’’.
The award is for a manufacturing company based in the South West, with a latest reported turnover of less than £25m, that has demonstrated excellence and made an outstanding contribution to the manufacturing sector in the region during the period 1st July 2015 to 20th June 2016.
Cubik Innovation Director Paul Mullen and Technical Project Manager Luke Davies were both fortunate enough to represent Cubik Innovation at this year’s Insider Media Ltd “Made in The South West” Awards held at Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel on Wednesday 2nd November 2016. The prestigious event showcases manufacturing from across the South West and give local companies the opportunity to celebrate their ongoing commitment to world-class quality and excellence.
The evening was full of splendour and ceremony, with the Cubik pair attending dressed in the usual penguin suits and Paul’s trademark waist coat. Acclaimed comedian Jimmy McGhie took the reins as compere for the awards, with a very entertaining comedic interlude following the night’s guest speaker Don Cameron of Cameron Balloons. Don gave a brilliant insight into the world of ballooning and how a conversation in his local gliding club bar turned into the Bristol institution known as Cameron Balloons.
The climax of the event was the awards ceremony itself. Cubik was in a very strong category vying for the crown of SME Manufacturing Company of the Year (Turnover below £25m), which included Future Advanced Manufacture, Blue Badge Company, Woodwarm Stoves, Gripsure UK and the eventual category winner; Marshfield Bakery.
Everyone at Cubik Innovation would like to congratulate Marshfield Bakery on successfully winning SME Manufacturing Company of the Year (Turnover below £25m), a well-deserved award! And if you guys fancy sending over any of your celebration cakes that would be great!
Drinks Reception at the Grand Hotel
Cubik Innovation are proud to announce that it has recently become a business support provider of the West of England Growth Hub, helping our local business community to grow sustainably.
The resource works by creating a two-way referral and collaboration process between the West of England Growth Hub and the existing local business support infrastructure. Finding the help that you need in a quick and easy manner has always been a challenge for businesses, the West of England Growth Hub gives us the opportunity to offer our support and expertise to a wide community.
This fresh approach by the West of England Growth Hub will be a unique offering nationally and we are excited to be involved in this prospect. It will facilitate access to the most appropriate local providers, via a tailored, intuitive website journey. This is all based upon extensive research and wide consultation with local businesses. The West of England Growth Hub’s unique approach ensures that everything they do reflects the voice of businesses; and the community is at the heart of all it does.
Speaking about becoming a Registered Support Provider, Paul Mullen Cubik Innovation Director commented; “This is a fantastic opportunity for Cubik to give back to the community it serves and has been an integral part of since we were founded in 2012. We work with a vast cross section of businesses and sectors, with Cubik becoming business support for the Growth Hub will assist with our development as well as the companies we work with through the West of England Growth Hub… Lots of very exciting things are coming out of the West of England, it’s a perfect time for us to get involved!”
The West of England Growth Hub is powered by Business West for The West of England LEP.
Cubik celebrated its 4th birthday in style this year … not only was there a very colourful cake (with hidden surprises), it was celebrated in its new home at Verona House!
The last year has been pretty incredible for the business, let alone the excitement of the past few months.
We have seen a few team members sadly leave, but new ones have joined us expanding the team even further. We are currently 18 members and made up with some fantastic people whom the business is very lucky to have on board.
Cubik continues to stride forward with prestigious new contracts, acquiring new equipment to expand our service offerings and developing in house skills to offer our customers an even better service.
A birthday is always a good opportunity to reflect on the past year, and look ahead to the next for Director Paul Mullen:
‘’The Team at Cubik Innovation have continued to give their all this year, Cubik Innovation is truly stronger than ever. We have completed some fantastic project with new ones won, enabling the business to move forward into its very own office space.
The next year ahead looks really exciting and I can’t wait to be part of it with this team’’
The Cubik Innovation Family
The team at Cubik Innovation are delighted to announce that for the third year in a row we have passed the International ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management audit, with no non-conformities.
ISO 9001 is the world’s most widely recognised quality management system accreditation and monitors quality across our business, benchmarking consistent performance and service with the goal to enhance customer satisfaction.
Paul Mullen, Managing Director of Cubik Innovation said: “Achieving this accreditation demonstrates our continued commitment to quality and by passing with zero non-conformities highlights the efforts of the team and their personal dedication to providing a quality service all that they do. Quality and an excellent service is at the heart of what we do at Cubik”.
To achieve the ISO 9001:2008 standard the company must demonstrate adherence to its own quality system followed by completing multiple reviews that cover all operational procedures within the organisation. Cubik Innovation was independently assessed in August 2016 by SGS and completed the two-day audit process with zero non-conformities.
Paul would like to thank Sam Beard, Cubik Innovation Quality Manager, and the internal audit team for all their hard work before and during the two-day assessment.
The Story of...
Ryan Smith has been Cubik Innovations Intern Design Engineer from 2015 to 2016. Joining us from Plymouth University where he is currently studying Robotics, Cubik has thrown every possible challenge at him... including writing a news update about his placement year!
So what do I think of the time I have spent here?
It’s been great, I have learnt so much, and that’s above and beyond the technical skills you would expect. Of course you pick up some good design tips and lots of best practices that I have seen other designers use. The thing is though, that is not the reason to do a placement year, a year in a real business offers the opportunity to see how that business works such as seeing how customers are dealt with, and how things are actually done. It has given me a great insight into the world of electronics, a part of the world which the end user doesn’t typically get to see.
One thing that you really don’t experience at university are customers. When you’re writing an essay, or designing a project, the closest thing to a customer that you encounter is your lecturer. In Cubik I have been given the chance to actually interact with real customers; to go through design development cycles, to talk through problems, and produce reports of tests that I have conducted.
There are not many companies out there that will trust an intern to travel to a customer’s office, and figure out problems on behalf of the company.
Ryan testing one of Cubik’s many projects against the pre-defined test script
On reflection, the most important skill I have learnt here at Cubik is the way to write documents. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but writing a good quality technical document is harder than it initially seems. It needs to hold all the possible information it can, including all the technical stuff; yet also be simple enough for anyone to read. The document could be read by somebody with no technical experience, and who knows nothing about the design process. I know it might sound boring and mundane, but this will be helpful in the years to come, with final year projects, and exams to do in the years to come, as writing good quality documents will be invaluable.
So how has this year actually helped me? Well experience is key.
There is only so much your university lecturers can teach you about the big bad world of work and no amount of exams can prepare you on how to interact with a customer in a particularly tense meeting. Being in a very active design environment forces you to actually think quickly, and to learn even quicker. Yet the thing everybody concentrates on is whether I want to go into and work in this world. I would say the Cubik experience has actually strengthened my desire to be an engineer. I have spoken to loads of other interns like me who haven’t enjoyed their experiences as much as I have, and more importantly, haven’t actually been given the opportunity to have those experiences. I have literally seen every part of the electronic design process, and been able to directly be a part of it, not many interns can say they’ve done that.
So has Cubik guided me and helped me?
Of course it has, the things I have learnt will help me for many years to come; and will definitely help the rest of my time at university. I have found things I enjoy, and things I don’t. That’s the idea! So all in all, this year has been a success, and I have gotten everything I wanted out of it, and more. I would definitely recommend this placement to anyone.
Ryan soldering a development board
Will Couch joined Cubik Innovation for his one-week work experience from BTE Academy Will joined Cubik on its very first week of its new home!
This is Will’s diary …
On the first day I was given a tour by Sophie, Cubik’s Business Manager, then straight after there was a Monday Morning Meeting where everyone discussed projects and what needed doing for the week.
Paul gave me the task of researching and designing a way of detecting motion on vehicles trucks, to identify when they are in use. As part of the solution, Paul then explained and talked me through what an MPU 9250 chip was, and how it has 9 axes, 3 compass, 3 Gyro and 3 accelerometers. I then made my own box chart for the actual microprocessor. Throughout the day I was given small tasks by Sophie and Elaine like asking all the other employees if they needed anything.
The second day, Will, one of Cubik’s Software Developers, took me through how the software and coding worked for a project they were working on, the code he showed me was linked to the vehicles motion I researched yesterday. After that, Paul Kelly, Cubik’s Lead Software Engineer showed me how to code in C#. I wrote a code that lists 5 names in a text box and then once you click the reverse button it will output the names on the screen backwards, surprisingly complicated!
On the third day, I was in the Production Lab with Barney, one of Cubik’s apprentices. First, I checked all of the soldered points for any impurities; this was part of the test process. Barney then lead me through the way we test the boards, and what to look out for. We then tested half of the boards to see if they worked. Out of the boards we tested one failed, so it will have to be reworked by the production engineers.
Today I did some research on some audio amplifiers. Paul gave the task of researching chips, and gave me a list of things that had to be included in the chip. Things like the power, the type of chip, and supply voltage were all important things I had to look at. I also had to find a place that we could buy the amplifiers from, so that we can use it to make an audio amplifier in my final day.
On the final day, I made an audio amplifier, it included a speaker, and audio amplifier chip that we chose yesterday, and lots of resistors and capacitors. First we bread boarded it, to see if the circuit worked. A picture of the bread boarded circuit can be seen below. Once we tested it on there (didn’t sound great at this point) I soldered it onto Vero board, this made it much smaller, with everything being closer together. It had a 3.5 mm audio jack on the top and a switch to turn it on and off. It was all contained in a plastic rectangle case with three holes drilled in it, one big one for the speaker, one rectangle one for the slide switch and one on the top for the audio jack. To drill the holes in the box I got to work in the mechanical lab and help select the enclosure, location of the holes and help drill the holes out using a hole drilling tool. It was then ready to be all fitted together and final tested. For this we plugged my phone in and played a song I had on it.
Finally, it is time to announce the good news … we have moved!
We are almost 4 years old, 18 members of staff strong and have felt very at home at The Bristol and Bath Science Park since 2012. However, the time has come to move onto pastures new!
Following a significant period of growth, Cubik Innovation and the team have decided to relocate to a larger office premises in Fishponds.
Just 3 miles away from The Bristol and Bath Science Park and with excellent transport links, Cubik will continue to maintain a presence for its current customers and at future events.
Verona House has been designed with a greater production space for both prototype and batch manufacture which reflects the growing demand in the UK.
Speaking about moving into the 4,750 square foot design space MD, Paul Mullen, "This is an exciting time for the business, the past 4 years has shown that our hard work and passion for electronics and prototyping is paying off and the demand for our service is apparent in both the South West and beyond. This move will allow us to offer our customers a greater experience while continuing to grow in the developing business community in the South West".
The unique facility will feature a custom design space, customer meeting rooms, prototyping facilities including 3D printing for rapid prototyping, mechanical design and assembly alongside the companies in house, electronic production department that includes two build lines that incorporate:
We will of course be updating the website with lots of ‘Office Warming’ celebrations but the design space is scheduled to open on 4th July 2016 with an official launch ceremony to follow.
Cubik Innovations new address is:
All email addresses and telephone numbers will remain the same.
George Lear joined Cubik Innovation for his one-week work experience from Mangotsfield School in Downend. Currently a Year 10 student, George has a keen knowledge and hands on experience with the Raspberry Pi and has strong interest in Electronics, Engineering and Design which he is studying at school. This is Georges diary …
Today I started by sitting in on the Monday Morning Meeting. The meeting was full of discussion about the business and what everyone’s job was for the week ranging from administration to production.
After the meeting I went on to working with Ryan (Electronics Intern) who showed me a report that has to be completed when there is a problem with a product. He showed me the way that this has to be done so that anyone should be able to read it and understand it without needing to know anything about electronics.
The final task of the day was to test some products that had been previously found faulty to see if the repairs carried out by the Production Team had worked.
I began by working with Eli (Design Engineer) who took me into the workshop to test an intelligent security device that lets you know when it is being tampered with. It can detect all sorts of attacks from drilling to heating. Whilst in the workshop we hit the device with a hammer, cut it with a saw and attacked it violently with an angle grinder to find out if the sensor responded to all the different types of attacks.
After that I moved on to working with Giles (Design Engineer) and Sam (Production Manager) who were testing another piece of smart security technology. This testing included testing if the device triggered when a door was opened or a loud nose was heard. It would then send a text message to a database informing the security team that an alarm had been activated letting them know a possible intruder had entered.
I finished off the day by doing a research task to find a step-up DC-DC converter that Cubik could use instead of an old chip that is no longer manufactured.
Today I worked with Paul (Technical Software Lead) who showed me how the software side of electronics is done. It turns out is it a very complicated part of an electronics product. This took up the morning and was really fascinating. After lunch I got the chance to have ago myself which I found a great challenge.
I managed most of the tasks, including making a name display which started and stopped when you pressed the button. The only task which I could not manage was creating a reverse button that played the names in reverse when the button was pressed.
Apart from my lack of skills the day went really well and I have particularly liked having a go at programing myself. It is incredibly annoying at times but when you get it right it is very rewarding and you end up with a working piece of software.
Today I worked on a new power supply for a recent project that used a chip that is no longer available. It needed to be capable of powering the system just like the old chip did. Me, Eli (Design Engineer) and Russell (Design Engineer) were all trying to get it to work but none of us could. We were supposed to get 5v from the output but the max we could get was only 4v without a load. Whatever we tried to do it made it worse or the output stayed the same.
After lunch I used the internet to try to find a similar chip that could do the trick. I manged to find one so when it arrives it will have to also be tested to see if it gives us the 5v needed.
Today I started in production leaning how to get boards ready for the pick and place machine. I had the role of putting the solder onto the boards by smearing the solder paste through a guide and onto the board. This was then ready to be put in the pick and place machine and then into the oven.
After lunch I started to build another power supply with a different chip. Thankfully this time it worked and gave us 5v on the output. We then did some testing on the power supply to find the efficiency and how well the voltage could keep its self-up to 5v.
I had a really great week at Cubik and I have learnt many new skills. A big thank-you to everyone at Cubik for letting me come and see what happens when producing a new piece of technology.
The renewed partnership will see an increase in the brand’s presence with the logo emblazoned on the under 14s jerseys, as well as a panel at the stadium.
Cleve RFC is an amateur rugby club based in Mangotsfield, Bristol and they are currently playing in the National League 3 South West. The decision to renew the sponsorship was taken after seeing the impressive impact the club had on the local community.
Paul Mullen, Director of Cubik Innovation said: “Being a supporter and partner of Cleve RFC is a privilege. We are delighted to be sponsoring the team and we hope that this latest extension shows our commitment to the local community. We will be following the team closely and wish them the best of luck for the coming season.”
The testing process for both software and hardware was completely rocked when the mobile revolution began. Development teams and testers were forced to think about power sources, the implications of touch technology, bandwidth and dropped connections. But testing trends and recognised procedure are set to see further disruption – this time from the looming shadow of The Internet of Things (IoT) and its far reaching impact.
IoT is a unique phrase, obscure yet obvious sounding – it is clear to see why understanding its exact meaning is the first stumbling block in adopting this new technology to many people.
Put simply its connecting ‘things’ to the Internet that didn’t have the capacity for connection before – your thermostat, your washing machine – your watch being the most pertinent example, once a humble time piece, now a demi-smartphone, connecting you to your calendar, emails, social networks alongside being able to track fitness and daily vitals.
The IoT is becoming something that our society and wider world rely upon to optimise personal performance, enhance domestic life whilst reporting and collating huge volumes of data. With a task so big – it is essential these devices are tested adequately with processes that are fit-for-purpose whilst being mindful of this quickly moving technology.
As for all consumer electronics, leveraging a balance between functionality and intuitive usability is an important consideration – devices must adhere to specification whilst being usable to the average user without hefty training.
This becomes crucially important for connected, IoT devices as often they can be small and minimal for a key purpose – think of your Fitbit or Nest. Your Nest is collating, sending and receiving data readily across a number of functions, making the design consideration of how to integrate these services into a slick, small user interface can be challenging.
These gadgets are geared towards becoming our digital partners in life, work and play – this is only achievable through user-centric design. Carrying out user testing to validate interface and experience design is a core
Connectivity is the backbone of successful IoT integration – an obvious but central necessity. In cases where connections may be intermittent or unpredictable, ensuring data will be delivered and saved correctly when it is restored is vital.
Testing for this is important, and can be achieved by disabling connections during bench testing alongside scalability testing to guarantee connectivity in scenarios with a high number of user instances across numerous features.
According to studies conducted by Hewlett Packard, 70% of connected IoT devices are vulnerable to security breaks – with issues surrounding data encryption and password requirements.
Integrating security best practice into the development process as well as understanding expert knowledge on the subject is a necessary task with ever-growing IoT customer bases. Testing for security shortcomings through development and prior to release is the next step – it’s best not to wait for the headline or damning PR incident to uncover your product’s security shortcomings
Depending on the purpose of the product, connecting to other devices in the connected homes of our future may be crucial. Having these devices available to test may be a challenging due to the sheer size of the market, but gathering a minimal reference set to test on is the next best option. Coordinating user testing during proto release stages goes further by arming your team with the analytics to understand which devices are the most frequently connected, guiding the direction of further testing.
The key to testing for IoT is being mindful of the developing market it sits in – any process must be regularly reviewed and kept attuned to changes, the rules are almost certainly set to evolve as we see the industry take a firmer hold.
Happy New Year to all of our customers, design partners and suppliers, we hope you had a fantastic festive period – 2015 was big for us and massive for our industry, we saw huge growth in the development of wearable technology and the explosion of the IoT (The Internet of Things) – but what’s next? Here’s 6 trends we think you’ll be seeing more of in 2016.
Over 2015 3D printers have reduced in price dramatically, with many desktop FDM printers becoming fast, functional, reliable and accessible. We’ve already seen from our own experience, more and more inventors and small companies using 3D printing to develop fast turn-around prototypes, this will build and build. However, the consumer pull for 3D printers to make their way into every home study and maker’s workshop around, seems to have slowed, signposted by 3D system’s announcement to discontinue their entry level consumer 3D printer – The Cube, alongside the close of Cubify.com and its popular retail product lines. It is in no doubt the main players in 3D printing are certainly pledging their allegiance to the industrial market.
For the last few years 3D printing has sky rocketed in popularity and gained real footing as a functional manufacturing process, in 2016 and beyond it will find its true calling – going hand in hand with design, prototyping and innovation within high tech engineering and business – less of a novelty and more of an industry standard.
As for the higher end of additive manufacturing, boundaries are already being pushed in regards to materials and composites – this endeavour will only be furthered this year.
From wearables to implants, beginning with FitBit and smart watch applications in recent years, this trend really has the mileage to become something huge over the next 12 months and part of our lives for years to come. Devices which encourage healthy lifestyles and behaviours, promote effective medicinal management, provide relevant and accurate information at time of treatment and deliver post-treatment, cost-effective recovery planning are the future of personal healthcare, with a growing number of products already on the market.
With an ever-growing consciousness towards health, an NHS in financial trauma and an ageing population, the demand for this technology is increasing and as technological barriers are broken down, IoT is improved, this will absolutely boom.
As the standards which will inevitably force competing entities to connect and work together move further apart, our connected home of the future could be a long way off. Google (and friends) introduced their ‘Thread’ the networking protocol once anticipated to lead the IoT evolution – but with the sheer volume and diversity of standards available it’s still a market difficult to navigate for both developers and consumers alike.
Despite this IoT is showing no signs of slowing. You don’t need to be in the industry to know home automation is massive - massive last year, definitely massive this year and undoubtedly the future of domestic living, over the past year we have seen the amount of new enquiries coming directly from this industry grow exponentially.
One of our larger customers – Switchee, a start-up based at London’s Makerversity are developing a smart thermostat exclusively designed to help affordable housing providers fight fuel poverty, alongside boasting a whole range of extra features geared towards clever automation. The unit detects high humidity levels thereby safeguarding against dangerous mould, alerts users when the temperature drops below a safe level and includes a messaging feature, useful for contacting dependant tenants quickly and easily. Switchee is already on trial with a number of leading Housing Associations – check back for our full case study in the coming months with details on how our Software and Production teams have helped make this happen!
The £11 billion Government scheme kicked off in 2013 with plans to install an estimated 53 million new smart meters to around 30 million homes and small businesses gained a lot of attention in the press last year, with multi-million pound fines imposed on partnered utilities companies after repeatedly missing supply targets.
With the rescheduled rollout to begin in October 2016 and a planned conclusion in 2020, utility companies will certainly need to up their game to meet installation deadlines. The government has also reported a £90 million effort needed from the development team behind the infrastructure to improve the vital communications system which has rendered many of the country’s existing smart meters ‘dumb’.
Touchscreen may not be done with its day in the sun, but we predict the new revolution in user interface to be gesture recognition – perhaps not hot on its heels for the mainstream limelight but definitely in slow pursuit! The trend is already gaining momentum as semiconductor manufacturers add gesture recognition functions and applications to existing sensor product lines and the rise of electromyographic wearable sensors gains momentum.
The USB C is small enough to work with the smallest of peripheral devices, allows for reverse plug orientation and carries significantly more current than previous generations. We have seen a gradual turn to this type of connection amongst our customers, sure to continue this year, progressively becoming industry standard.
So there we have it, 2016 predictions made, it will be interesting to see which ones we’ll be backtracking in 2017! At Cubik we predict our 2016 to be much like 2015...but better! Hopefully meeting a whole new class of exciting and innovative inventors, SMEs and large corporations with burgeoning ideas, plans and concepts for electronic products and systems.
If you’d like to begin the New Year by finally kicking off that new project, get in contact with Cubik to discuss our bespoke electronic product design, concept to production process.
December at last – Closing down a few projects, preparing for brand new work to kick off in the New Year, getting in the spirit with some mince pies and 2014’s DIY fairy lights – it’s certainly starting to look a lot like Christmas.
But this week, as if end of year preparations and secret Santa aren’t enough to contend with - there’s a real excitement in the air...
...The Force is Awakening.
Christmas may bring the inevitable rewards – sherry, merriment and a well-earned holiday, but what could be more exciting to a proud band of sci-fi geeks, engineers and developers than the gift of a New Star Wars film. True joy and peace on earth!
Since announcements in 2014 discussions have been gaining momentum – it’s been a long year of waiting. As engineers we haven’t simply been debating the looming Mark Hamill secret, or trying to tie up the inexplicable plotlines – we’ve been asking the real questions, the engineering questions...
And we’ve noticed a few things.
The Empire is a sad example of a huge enterprise which has completely failed to understand the importance of an all-encompassing quality management system and a good design process. We believe entirely – without supporting the endeavours of a fictional tyrannical and oppressive organisation that if a few simple development rules were applied, that gigantic Death Star explosion ...was easily avoidable!
If you’re developing the jewel in your crown, a gargantuan spherical space station, planned to be over 100 kilometres in diameter, perhaps don’t leave your schematics lying around – file them in a manilla folder, take it to the cloud – anything, go further, get a patent, sign an NDA. If Vader was using a robust document management system, maybe this instrumental ‘stuff up’ could have been avoided.
At Cubik we go to great lengths to ensure right from first contact our customers are safe in the knowledge their most treasured ideas are protected. We send mutual NDAs, all of our team are bound to staff NDAs and for military grade projects we have senior, security cleared engineers. And when your prototype is done and dusted, ready for the eyes of your potential investors, we can advise you on patenting and further IP protection.
‘Superlaser’ capable of obliterating an entire planet in a single shot, powered by around 10,000 turbolaser batteries, 2,600 ion cannons and roughly 768 tractor beam projectors, ‘Check’. Hangars for assault shuttles, support ships and 10,000 TIE fighters, ‘Check’. Recreational areas for the 300,000 Stormtroopers and pilots, because let’s face it – morale must be rock bottom, ‘Check’.
Tough defence system?...’erm’. Goodbye prototype Deathstar.
In the real world the key functionalities and features must be on your radar at all times and not compromised as development begins. As part of our five phase process, we nail the specification in the first instance, ensuring all parties are completely satisfied with the plan rolling forward. In the event the objectives meander off course, time is taken to ensure innovation is controlled and correctly implemented.
The Empire proved so pertinently in their colossus failings that a good design review might have just been the ticket. The endless mill of Deathstar scrap and rework, the subplot lifeblood of the original trilogy could have been dodged if the development wasn’t handled so carelessly. We can only but imagine the sign-off process, but we can guess it wasn’t lined with red tape. The result is a product marketed as impenetrable but absolutely penetrable by one man in an X-wing the next day in a real-life test environment.
At Cubik towers, design reviewing is essential to our workflow and our ISO:9001 quality system. Review everything; review it until the whole team is absolutely confident in all aspects of the design, no footprints left unchecked, no cathodes left undesignated.
Despite the idiocy of the Empire and their refusal to foster an environment where quality and review is paramount, their Deathstar story does teach us one thing. If you’ve got an idea you want to develop, a prototype is a good place to start spinning out your innovation. With a few cycles of the iteration wheel, your product could be bigger and better than your first imagining, controlling this development with a good process is the answer.
And yes, perhaps you want rapid results, but unless the situation sees you fighting an out-of-hand, Jedi powered, rebellion force – embarking on the road to product development is not a journey to be taken lightly or hastily.
If you’d like to chat to Cubik about an idea or concept and want to find out more about our bespoke inventors development programme in a less geeky fashion, feel free to contact the team to set up a consultation. However we do draw the line with any fictional space-based, ‘take over the world’ type agencies.
Happy Star Wars viewing to all, and have a Merry Christmas! We’re off to the cinema!
Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday Cubik Inno-va-tion, Happy Birthday to us! Three years! Epic.
For the third year running we can’t believe this day has come again so quickly, you know what they say about time and fun and all that! Over the past three years we have been busy beavering away, driving our business forward, growing, expanding our services and working with some fantastic people. What started as three of us in a room with a few nice projects, has transformed into a 20 strong team across three departments working on over 20 live projects at any one time.
To celebrate this most auspicious of occasion we obviously opted for the classic Cubik Birthday protocol of buying cake and balloons, after all as a company we’re still in age bracket where it’s acceptable to enjoy the lesser sophisticated birthday celebrations, perhaps when we get to ten years we’ll start looking further afield to laser quest or ten pin bowling!
To mark the meeting of this important juncture, a signpost which marks our transition from Start-up to the established small business, we also wanted to spotlight a few of the awesome team members which have made our success possible, by way of thank you for their important and much valued work- after all there a few things that can’t be expressed in cake.
We apologise for the blur, we got so excited we did jazz hands!
Chase joined Cubik as our first employee and has been working at top gear helping to accelerate growth since then. He was responsible for some of the first electronic designs shipped to our customers and has been pivotal to winning some of the bigger projects in the years following. Without Chase’s crucial effort at Cubik’s conception it’s a certainty we would have taken a lot longer to get to where we are now, Cheers Chase!
Sam started as Cubik’s first production engineer, but took on the role of self-proclaimed ‘do-er of all things’, dealing with office systems and quality management as well as production work. Sam is now our production manager and most definitely our quality management representative! He has managed to build a department around him, which is both extremely commercially successful to the business and also pretty special in the way it runs, with a mix of experienced technicians and apprentices, Sam has cultivated an environment for learning and development without losing the ‘Go do it’ attitude which means the team always deliver on time. Bravo Sam!
Sophie came to Cubik as a contractor in our first year to optimise Marketing efforts, and was instrumental to raising Cubik’s profile and maximising visibility in the early stages of the business. She designed clever brochures, exhibited our wears at Venturefest, networked and made connections with local academia and industry, laying important groundwork for future growth and development. Sophie takes the lead on New Product Design and Development and manages our Project Management team whilst overseeing all new business activity, safe to say her To-Do-List is always massive! Definitely one of our Cubik superstars!
This year we’ve had some great successes, winning awards, working on and completing some amazing projects and growing our team, 2016 holds much more change, new premises perhaps, a brand new industrial design department and hopefully some more exciting new projects. Big thank you to the Cubik team, our customers and all of our great design partners. Keep your eyes on our feed for more developments, we definitely have some planned, including a website revamp!
Growing as a Start-Up is all about connections, making connections with funding bodies, project partners, academia and neighbouring companies. From our conception, we have always been devoted to building this vital network. Perhaps the most valuable of these relationships with Microelectronics iNet.
Microelectronics iNet is an ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) project, conceived in 2010, planned to run into 2015, with a finish scheduled next month. They provide advice and resources to Microelectronics SMEs across the South West helping to take design concepts and ideas all the way to tangible products and services, a mission absolutely shared with Cubik. Through research and understanding Microelectronics iNet have been able to create programmes of practical and targeted support working to boost SMEs to progress innovation. The body are supported and lead by The University of the West of England, contributing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to an already strong team of experts. The project in its entirety operates to provide support to existing SMEs and inventors but is part of wider picture, the iNet programme, a large funding resource forming a network of iNet each geared towards servicing a specialist industry field in the South-West whether it be Aerospace or Green technology.
Forging a relationship with this invaluable resource has paid all parties involved an array of worthwhile dividends, for Microelectronics iNet they have successfully cultured an environment for SMEs to build supply chain clusters, where companies can sustain each other as well as themselves. In Cubik’s case, we have had the vital opportunity to connect with a bank of customers and companies from all manner of industry sector and background, extending our reach to unchartered heights. For our customers, they have seen grassroots ideas transform into targeted well thought out concepts and often prototypes and technology demonstration devices developed.
In a recent report of the programme’s successes, Belen Prieto, Cubik’s key contact commented: “There has been a successful history of collaboration between Cubik Innovation and the Microelectronics iNet since 2012. It’s a deep and close partnership which has delivered real outcomes for both Cubik Innovation and the Microelectronics iNet. This strategic partnership has also provided SMEs with access to very high quality prototypes in a shorter period of time, facilitating the SMEs to keep on innovating and bringing new products to market, which is helping to feed the virtuous circle for growth in the South West of England”.
For Cubik our successes have been achieved most pertinently through the Microelectronics iNet business assist service, a small but important fund of £1000 awarded to SMEs looking to gain information and guidance on product and business development. In this capacity Cubik were commissioned to facilitate product and concept investigation for customers with electronic products, usually consisting of several days of focused research into prototyping and design. Over our three years in business we have completed approximately 25 business assists for as many innovative small companies. 60% of these investigations forming the vital bedrock for future development, with customers choosing Cubik as their product development partner or as a vehicle for isolated programmes of work such as Design reviews, prototype productions, software iterations, and batch manufactures.
Most recently Cubik engaged with South-West, Start-Up Meta Films Ltd headed up by experienced cameraman and adventurer Nick Guy. Nick was granted funding through the programme for Cubik to carry out a full design review of a camera trap system which houses a DSLR specifically to film wildlife in remote locations and was certainly pleased with the results:
“The investigation carried out by Cubik was to pin down a problem with an existing design. This was achieved and has allowed remedial work to be undertaken to correct the fault on a number of units already in service. Prior to the investigation the units could not be safely deployed. The work carried out by Cubik also highlighted a number of other points as well as touching on possible improvements that could be implemented in a future development of the design. It is likely that Cubik will be asked to conduct a further full design review and hopefully carry out full re-design of the product at some stage in the near future”.
Alongside Meta films, we have also recently worked with Wildwood Ecology delivering smart and innovative ecological solutions to companies across the South-West on a very interesting project surrounding the conservation of Bats. Richard Crompton, Wildwood’s director had this to say about his experience with Cubik Innovation and Microelectronics iNet.
“We found our dealings with Cubik to be really enjoyable – from a first friendly meeting with MD Paul, to being introduced to the team and seeing the facilities – a very positive experience that made us feel Cubik was a company we wanted to do business with. After some fact finding Cubik put us in touch with the Microelectronics iNet scheme which funded the initial feasibility stage. We now have costed proposals for a range of options – now we have to do some work to identify the funds to make the project a reality”.
The programme have also offered a more extensive layer of support, making larger sums of funding available to give projects a real boost. In 2013, Cubik won the highest level of this support to fund a brand new automated optical inspection unit (AOI machine) which has and continues to maintain an excellent quality standard to the many prototypes shipped frequently from our labs. The majority of our PCBAs are manufactured using surface mount technology, decreasing component size whilst increasing density, making the need for accurate and efficient inspection a vital measure. Adding this machine to our growing production line in the earliest days of our business meant we were able to take on an increased number of production and prototyping jobs, helping us win a contract with a large, local utilities firm for a programme of work which would change the landscape of our growth markedly.
With the programme ending in one month, funding rounds are now closed, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the team at iNets for the support and continued interest in our endeavours and remind any fledgling SMEs and Inventors to pay attention to these valuable activities happening all across the South-West. By working together, building connections and maintaining a growing network we can build on our already thriving industry and respective businesses. In the wake of our successes with the Microelectronics iNets programme we are now investigating more ways we can connect our customers with important funding and look forward to building those important future relationships, continuing our work helping South-West inventors lift their ideas to innovation.
For more information, case studies and news on the Microelectronics iNets programme please visit www.microelectronics-inet.co.uk
This year Cubik Innovation have taken on four Work Experience students, between the ages of 14-17 from local schools and colleges. By engaging fully with local education we hope to build the experience and ambitions of local kids who might want to begin their career in the engineering world, specifically Electronics. There’s no fetching of tartan paint or long waits in sight, a week at Cubik is all about learning about how things work, how we code, prototype, manufacture and design.
This summer we have been busy with work experience placements taking on three students within the past three weeks, Will Graham, Nathan Dolan and Luke Staniland from Mangotsfield school, Downend school and St Bernard Lovell’s School. The boys got stuck into learning about the entire electronic product lifecycle, having a bit of fun along the way with Intern Dan Morgan and learning all the important facts from MD Paul Mullen.
Here’s Nathan and Will’s Work Experience diary, with Luke’s short account of his week following.
We split up and worked with various members of this fantastic team. I (Will) started off the day by watching Dan debug some code whilst learning all the ‘ins and outs’ of what this sort of job would entail. Nathan, on the other hand, spent the morning with Giles and they worked through a PCB layout design talking fervently about what Giles does in his day to day life (at work, of course). After our lunch break, we swapped places and spent the afternoon learning more.
Began explosively as we were set the task of designing a fully functional circuit involving 10 LEDs, resistors to go with them and some AA batteries. We had to learn some basic electronics first though so we spent about half an hour with Paul doing that. We spent the rest of the morning working out what strength of resistor we needed to go with the LEDs we had chosen. We also had to work out how many batteries we would need and how long they would last. After we had worked all that out, we spent the afternoon using the company’s fantabulous (it’s a word, trust me) 3D printer and looking at the sort of things it could do.
We began by building the circuit we had designed the day before, which involved us being taught by Sam how to solder and the basic principles of electronic construction. This took up a large part of our day but was definitely worth it as it was very enjoyable. We spent the last little bit of our day continuing our work with the 3D printer.
Probably our favourite day as we got the amazing chance to make and code (sort of) one of the esteemed Cubik Innovation business cards. We got to learn how to use solder paste with Dan and got very frustrated by the fiddly nature of hand placing components on to a PCB. Then, with the help of Dan and Chase we tweaked the programming in the business cards so that they played a pattern after you won the game (I know, their business cards are a game, how cool is that!).
We helped out in the production room trying to work the AOI system. In doing so we took apart two computers and installed windows 7 into a computer to try and get the AOI system working.
Overall, this week has been one of the best in our development and understanding of what to work in the adult world feels like. We both feel like we have learned an awful lot about the industry and about work as an adult. This week has also presented us both with a clear perspective of what we want to go into when we are older… Electronics.
Over my week here at Cubik Innovation, I have met everyone in the business and explored almost every aspect of what they do. It has been a great learning experience for me, and I have truly enjoyed it. I was first interviewed last year by Paul, and he told me I had got the placement there and then. Until I got here on Monday, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I would learn something, and I was hoping it would be fun, but I didn’t realise how much effort would be put into making sure I was always involved, and how many different tasks I would be asked to take part in.
Throughout the week, some of the things that I have done include helping out and learning about software, more specifically the coding language C. I have also seen how schematics for electrical circuits are drawn up, and I have also seen how they are made, and how much testing the company put them through to ensure customer satisfaction.
A highlight of my busy week here at Cubik has been the experimentation with the 3D Printer. I was asked to design a plastic case for a circuit-board that would be used for testing purposes. Russell showed me how to use some 3D modelling software that would communicate with the printer to get the final product. This was a learning experience for me, as I had not really used any CAD (Computer Aided Design) Software before. I also managed to get a Cubik logo to print in red plastic, which I was given to take home; it now stands proudly on my desk.
This experience here at Cubik has helped me to realise things about the electronic design and the industry that surrounds it. I think I will probably pursue a career in this, as it is an industry that captures all my interests. My work experience here has definitely helped me to decide.
I would like to thank everyone at Cubik, and everyone I met at the Bristol and Bath Science Park, for being so friendly and helpful during the week. I would especially like to thank Paul for letting me have the placement initially after he interviewed me. Cubik is an amazing company, and the light atmosphere in both the Design and Production departments have ensured that I have enjoyed this thoroughly.
This years’ work experience calendar is unfortunately full, however we are always keen to hear of young engineers looking to gain some experience in electronic design and production, please contact us directly or via our enquiries mailbox to discuss 2016 placements.
In the wake of success at the IoD Director of the year awards, last week we continued our winning streak, picking up the award for Start-up business of the year at the glittering Bristol Post Business awards. Spirits were unbelievably high after being shortlisted for the final, to win the accolade is beyond expectation and entirely humbling.
The event, hosted at Brunel’s Passenger Shed kicked off in the early evening and continued late on into 1am, presenting some inspirational speakers, kicking off with Andy Green of Bloodhound giving attendees a high speed glimpse into the world of smashing land speed records and flying Tornado F3s. The team at the head of Aardman were also centre stage picking up a Lifetime achievement award, an award well deserved for a company so synonymous with the huge success the city has enjoyed in the creative industries.
After just two awards were announced, it was our turn to hear the judge’s verdict; One of our fellow BBSP tenants, have released a mobile app enabling the public to report noise complaints to their local authorities quicker and easier- at this point ‘The Noise app’ would’ve found its calling! Lots of cheering, clapping and photo snapping ensued for a quite a while after the announcement from our 10 strong Cubik table, to say we were delighted is an understatement!
On receiving the award, Director Paul commented:
“It feels amazing to have won. It is great to have this kind of recognition for a start-up, I didn’t expect to win it this evening, and to get on the shortlist was an amazing feeling. Bristol is a fantastic place to be based in. There are a lot of inventors here, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Our award is a testament to the hard work of our young and talented team of engineers and creative brains, but also a huge nod to our customers: the inventors, entrepreneurs, SMEs and corporations which come to Cubik armed with stunning design concepts, products and ideas. Without these customers, an award like this would have been simply impossible.
Many thanks to the award’s organisers and the judges, all who attended were delighted with the evenings event’s, leaving with a sense of pride for our city which is so obviously alive with great ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. A special thanks also goes to Dom from Mobile Menswear, the keeper of the spangly waistcoats and perfect bow ties!
Congratulations also to our fellow winners listed below...
Young Entrepreneur of the Year Amy McCormack, of ETM Recycling
Retailer of the Year Nailsea Electrical
Customer Service Award CR Windows
Family Business of the Year Jeff Way Electrical
Innovator of the Year Mubaloo
Export Award British Corner Shop
Marketing Campaign of the Year CR Windows
Large business of the year Hargreaves Lansdown
Best creative of technological Business Vistair Systems
Leisure and Tourism Business Everyone Active
Small business of the year ETM Recycling
Environmental Business Award Solarsense
Contribution to the Community Everyone Active
Business of the Year Vistair Systems
Lifetime achievement award Nick Park, David Sproxton and Peter Lord of Aardman
Summer usually signals the slowdown of the engineering sector, but not so here at Cubik!
Last week Director Paul Mullen and Project manager Sophie Adams-Foster attended the Institute of Directors South West Director of the Year Awards.
Staged at the wonderful Bordeaux Quay in Bristol Centre, with guest speaker IoD Chief Economist James Sproule, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet other local business owners.
Regional IoD Director Simon Face and his team at Bristol and Bath Science Park organised the event and Director Paul Mullen was stunned to have been Highly Commended in the Small Company Director Category.
Collecting his award from host Laura Rawlings and IOD Regional Chairman Richard Ayre, Paul commented: ‘I am really shocked, but pleasantly surprised! I love what I do and have a fantastic team of people working alongside me at Cubik Innovation. The South West region is alive with vibrant businesses, it’s a great city to work in and these Awards are a demonstration of the diversity of the local economy.’
Other winners included Julie Moore of Green Gourmet won Director of the Year, Neil Way, managing director of Jeff Way Electrical Services for Family Business Director, and Deki director Vashti Seth who won Third Sector Director.
An excellent evening was had by all attendees and Cubik looks forward to meeting more local business owners at the next event.
Next up, we shall be attending the Bristol Post Business Awards at The Engine Shed where Cubik have been nominated for Start Up Business of the Year Award!
Boys, time to break out your dinner jackets!
Venturefest 2015 was back with a bang this year, hosting start-ups, innovators, tech corporates and hundreds of like-minded delegates at Bristol’s landmark tech and creative hub The Engine Shed.
The brainchild of Lord Sainsbury and Professor Peter Johnson, bred from a conversation about the lack of investment opportunities for innovation, Venturefest has been established in Bristol since 2011, and has slowly become the annual go-to destination for all that innovate.
The event, which has enjoyed huge success in previous years and was no different this year, showcasing some inspiring technology, amazing innovations, exhibits of an unprecedented scope- including a driverless Bowler Wildcat from BAE systems, and perhaps most importantly our very own Cubik Innovation exhibit!
After exhibiting in 2013’s Venturefest and gaining huge interest, we were raring to be involved with this years’ event. As in 2013, this year we opted to showcase our manufacturing capability by hauling up our equipment and machinery to give delegates a real glimpse into a traditional PCB production line. Using our Pick and Place machine and Reflow Oven to manufacture 200 bespoke business cards programmed with a challenging LED game, we apologise in advance if attempting to conquer the game has resulted in any loss of sleep or frustration!
Throughout the day the team met some fantastic young entrepreneurs and representatives from all manner of SMEs and spin out projects. Namely, Sphere, a project targeted at developing wearable technology for the healthcare industry and Yu-Scan, a medical scanning device targeted at connecting users with medical informatics, these two examples some of many, which we hope to be able to continue the conversation with over the coming months.
After such a good experience this week at Venturefest Bristol and Bath, Cubik are now exploring the idea of exhibiting at Venturefest Wales. Stay Tuned, who knows what will be manufacturing at the September event!
June is a big month for all at Cubik with awards ceremonies on the horizon, in competition with local companies to win the Start-up of the year at the Bristol Post awards, plus our director Paul a contender for Director of the year in the IoD SW Director awards. Wish us luck, we hope the company wide effort put in to sourcing the most appropriate black tie attire will be worth it...
Cubik Innovation are proud to support local schools and colleges in strengthening the link between education and industry, making sure young people gain experience of ‘real life’ engineering whilst gaining support in navigating future career plans. This year we have accepted five work experience placement enquiries from students varying in ages from 14-17. This week 15 year old, Grace Parraman of the Bristol Steiner School came along for a 4 day placement, her time spent in between our administration, design and production departments, here’s Grace’s Diary:
My four days at Cubik have flown by, despite it being a very short week it was surprisingly tiring with a lot of stuff packed in.
Though my first day felt a little hectic, probably due to the Bank Holiday weekend, I was very warmly welcomed by the lovely Lianne, the office coordinator at Cubik, who took me through all my induction papers, now sitting in my Cubik green folder, which I am fiercely proud of! The majority of my first morning was also spent, explaining to the team I didn’t like to drink tea or coffee which they found quite hard to believe.
On my second day I was in the production department or as I warmly think of it as the ‘techy room’, I was doing some wire crimping and soldering I think I have a lot to learn in both aspects but all in all good experience, but again a group of really amazing people (you have to be amazing to buy your work experience person a doughnut). I came home really tired that day, a great snapshot of what to expect from a full working day!
On my third day I was back in the office working with Russell and Paul who showed me the world of electronic design and PCB layout, me and Russell had some extremely interesting chats about wallabies and he was showing me what he was working on which was all very interesting.
I am writing this on my final day and I have had an amazing experience and I do suggest to anyone who would like to do electronic design or any other technical engineering to talk to Cubik about possible work experience opportunities. I am undecided as whether I will enter the engineering industry one day not because of my experience at Cubik but because I really haven’t made up my mind where my heart lies and what I want to do with the rest of my life.
I would like to say thank you to the whole Cubik team especially Sophie for finding me the opportunity, Lianne for being so lovely, Paul for granting me the opportunity and Bob the security man at the Bristol and Bath Science Park for generally being very nice, so thank you.
This years’ work experience calendar is unfortunately full, however we are always keen to hear of young engineers looking to gain some experience in electronic design and production, please contact us directly or via our enquiries mailbox to discuss 2016 placements.
The first half of 2015 has certainly been all go for Cubik Innovation. We’ve seen our business blossoming, our team grow and relationships with exciting South West innovators evolve into brand new projects, we finished the last financial year on a high ready to hit the ground running on the next!
A massive cherry came to top an already amazing start to the year when this week we were given even more good news, as we received notification that Director, Paul Mullen had been selected as a finalist for this years’ Institute of Directors, South West Director of the year awards. All at Cubik were delighted after coming up against huge amounts of strong competition from the large network of entrepreneurs and small businesses the prestigious awards attract year on year. The winner of the award will go on to compete on the national stage, we have every hope that Cubik and Paul can succeed at this first leg of the award and who knows what the future could hold! The awards celebration and dinner will be held at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol on June 17, the celebration is open to the public as well as the finalists, with the IoD putting on some great networking opportunities alongside the ceremony.
Cubik Innovation are also in the running for the Start-up of the Year in the 2015 Bristol Post Business awards with the finalists to be announced shortly and the British Engineering Excellence Awards where will be applying for several awards. Fingers crossed for Cubik!
Heading into summer we will see more events crop up on the Cubik calendar as we go into the final stages of organising exhibits for both Venturefest Bristol and Venturefest Cardiff, this year we will hopefully be hauling our production machinery over to the show once again, with a view to manufacturing throughout the day, educating attendees on electronic manufacture whilst showcasing how we use this technology to achieve our customer’s complex technical requirements.
Later on in the summer we will also be taking part in an event run by the iNets Microelectronics South West, one of our long running project partners. The event will champion the work the programme has done with local SMEs and entrepreneurs in the local business cluster, Cubik and iNets have been working together for the past couple of months to make the event even more special, details to be revealed soon!
Summer is traditionally a time when the engineering industry slows, on the continent halting to a complete stop, Cubik’s stance couldn’t be further from this trend, we forecast the summer to bring with it new work and great opportunity, let’s hope the sun shines a little as well!
The route to market for the majority of UK designed electronic products and systems have sign posted diversions to the Far East, driven by the prospect of low cost manufacture, navigated by a seemingly skilled workforce and the traffic of a captive consumer market. This direction has worked for millions of products, allowing smaller companies and entrepreneurs to manufacture at the lowest cost possible. However recent years have seen a substantial slowing in the pace of this trend as the importance of good value has somewhat overtaken the importance of low cost. What does this mean? It is obvious countries like China have offered value for money for years now. Nonetheless is this relief on the company balance sheet more prevailing than the clear benefits domestic manufacture can reap in regards to quality and customer relationship?
Cubik Innovation are proud to be part of this new revolution which is helping to bring manufacture home, back to root where across many industry sectors, the UK are global leaders. We believe partnering with UK based manufacturers can yield huge value, here’s why:
The ease of communication achievable being a few hours down the road from clients, customers and suppliers is invaluable to the smooth running of a project. There is no hefty management required to pilot through time zones and costly call tariffs, meaning communication points can be frequent, stimulating a sense of project partnership between customer and supplier.
Straight forward paths of communication mean faster reaction times, problems can be reported and resolved quickly, shrinking the impact a potential problem could cause.
Good quality is second nature to the majority of UK suppliers, almost intrinsically programmed. Ensuring this quality further safe guards against future technical pitfalls and failures.
Production in the Far East can bring with it a whole host of ‘ifs’ regarding IP legalities. Manufacturing in the UK means inventors are protected against the very real fear of ideas being stolen, copied or reproduced. Many have experienced this, a notorious trap which creators have fell victim to over recent years, due to poor regulation in China. Manufacturing in the UK shields against this possibility.
Although China almost certainly has the advantage of a lower labour cost, the UK is surpassing this with an abundance of highly skilled workers entering the market on a daily basis, with educational institutions from schools to universities seeing surges in the levels of students taking up STEM subjects with career aspirations in the engineering sector.
The economic landscape of Britain has been somewhat up and down in recent times; supporting each other through this, means less SMEs and emerging businesses will fail which could lead to a slowing of growth and loss of jobs. In the South West of England we are extremely lucky to have a hub of innovation, a cluster which co depend and collaborate allowing important growth, this formula is attainable to all corners of the UK.
Manufacturing in the UK comes with ecological benefits. Environmental consciousness is becoming a common hallmark on everyday life as well as in business operations. Being close to your customers and suppliers helps the cause markedly by limiting this to ‘on the ground’ transportation, saving your company from pumping more pollution into the atmosphere than it has to. Chinese manufacture can often utilise both Eco harming and person harming materials which for the most part have been eradicated in the UK by manufacture legislation.
For the smaller company and entrepreneur ensuring all of these elements are taken care of right from project kick off is vital when budgets and timescales are tight, manufacturing domestically guarantees this is the case. Cubik’s production team are adept at providing this service.
As part of our full product lifecycle service, we run an extremely successful production department which undertake prototype, batch and full scale manufacture jobs for a broad range of customers. Cubik Production come with 40 years combined experience of Electronic Manufacture, the team incorporating stunning technical expertise with the zeal of newly qualified engineers, cultivating a dynamic approach which makes our team entirely unique.
Individually, team members specialise in specific aspects of the production line, automated SMT and specialist solder techniques. This high proficiency is scaffolded by assembly machinery and equipment adhering to important quality standard as well as the in-house mechanical and industrial assembly capability to produce complete ‘Box Builds’ for our customers.
Customers are also supported by an expert procurement team who guarantee the crop of the best quality components and materials available at the lowest cost, the team are cost sensitive to your needs helping you deliver your project in the most effective way.
In Production we are extremely lucky to have built a loyal customer base, customers which return to Cubik Innovation time again for the manufacture of their established products and systems.
Armortek is one of these customers; a family run business with roots in the South West of England. Armortek are the world’s leading manufacturer of 1/6 scale armour kits for military model enthusiasts, with a stunning reputation for high quality service, reliability and build quality.
Cubik Innovation have been supplying Armortek with their electronics for the past year, MDs Gill and Mark Watkins long term Cubik Customers. When questioned about the importance of ‘Made in the UK’, Gill added that “it is something we care deeply about, as it is core to our company ethos and part of the essence of Armortek”. Gill explained that partnering with Cubik was an easy to decision to make due to the “pleasant, helpful and professional service” she has experienced with the team, and would “highly recommend” manufacturing with Cubik to other SMEs. She also commented on the benefits of having suppliers close to attain a good level of communication, adding that in this sense “Cubik were very easy to deal with”.
Together with our established customers Cubik are currently are working with some brand new customers like Agillic spearheaded by Harry Gee. Harry is working alongside Bristol’s Robotics Lab to deliver a low cost, ‘build your own’ robot designed to stimulate interest in robotics and coding amongst children and adults alike. Harry has selected Cubik to manufacture the electronics for this product, over original plans to move production to the Far East. His wish was to have a “local, trusted supplier to work with to iron out any issues quickly”, adding manufacturing locally meant he could access local funding to make a solid business case. The project is currently ongoing, shipping 1000 units within 10 weeks this spring.
Manufacture in the UK is becoming more and more prevalent. We want to make this the norm, for the benefit of your company, the economy and the wider world! Weighing up the pros and cons of manufacture in the Far East for your electronic product? Contact our production team and we can organise a consultation to explore UK manufacturing at the best cost and best quality available. You could be surprised!
Bridging the gap between industry and education is something we are extremely passionate about. We are constantly on the lookout for opportunities where we can give young innovators and engineers the chance to experience real life design and technology. So, when Shanta Hurford of the St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Primary School’s Lego Club phoned to see if we could possibly help the children prepare for the last round of their Lego League finals, we certainly jumped at the chance.
Here at Cubik we had never heard of the Lego Club, our engineers more familiar with Meccano in any case, but what a fantastic idea! Each year, children between the ages of 9 and 11 are given the opportunity to sign up for the club where design and technology is the only learning objective. Lego Club is not only an outlet for their interests in engineering but begins to teach them the skills which are invaluable to the world of work and further education, such as teamwork, leadership, communication and presentation.
The Lego League is an international competition consisting of three key parts, a Lego robotics challenge including programming, a unique innovation project using a specific brief set out by Lego themselves and reported evidence of the club working together as a team.
Flying the flag for North-East Bristol, St Augustine’s Clever Lego-ers triumphed at the semi-finals held at Bristol HP labs, their innovative Tap Listen Blend Pen taking centre stage. The design answered the brief of producing a world class learning aid perfectly but pushed it a step further by aiming it directly at helping the large percentage of the UK who suffer with dyslexia. The pen works by phonetically sounding words as they are scanned over, but unlike the product’s hypothetical competitors is designed to work on all manner of publication and writing. The main event of February’s final will include a Dragon’s Den style presentation given to leading experts in the field of technology and business, on how the product could be brought to market in real life terms, including a session of quick fire questions on the nitty gritty of cost and manufacturing.
And this is when Cubik Innovation came in! Taking a concept from a few thoughts, to a specification, to a design, through to a prototype, and eventually on to the market is our speciality, we couldn’t wait to prepare for the kids for such an event!
The day began with the Lego Club’s excellent presentation, including props and some very convincing acting! Here the Cubik team consisting of Director Paul Mullen, Project Manager Sophie Adams-Foster and Office Coordinator Lianne Barnard, had the chance to ask the important questions - how much would the product cost? How would the product be made? What would it be made out of? The team were extremely impressed with the sheer level of research and planning that went into designing such a unique and worthy product.
Following the ‘grilling’ session was an informative presentation on how Cubik would take this product to market, covering our five phase prototyping service which, in a real life scenario would be perfect for the Lego Club’s invention. The day ended with a tour of our labs and a good look into some of the projects Cubik are currently working on.
Jess Scott, the teacher that heads up the Lego Club added that ‘The group will certainly be better equipped to deal with the grilling they will get in Loughborough. In fact, I think the judges will get a shock that they are so well informed!’
Following the visit, the children were enthusiastic to share their thoughts, kindly sending thank you letters, Grace, one of the club’s project coordinators writing “You gave all our teams advice and what you said will certainly put into action”, her colleague Lottie adding “I loved the experience and will remember it for the rest of my life”- which of course all at Cubik were extremely happy to read. Cubik were also pleased the children appreciated the Science Park’s unique surroundings- Barnaby adding ‘I thought it was an amazing building, so good I built it on Minecraft’.
All of the Cubik Staff were delighted to help and left the experience with a sense that the future of our industry is in safe hands with such bright innovators in our schools, we wish the Lego Club all the success and luck for the looming final and in all their future endeavours.
2014 was an astounding year for Cubik Innovation. Over the course of the year we successfully delivered over fifty projects to both new customers and old, undertaking work which was truly unprecedented for us. We worked on large scale, production projects for corporations such as Wessex Water, firmly flying the flag for electronic manufacture in the UK. We worked with creative marketing agencies supplying unique products and promotional material which made their debut at high profile events like the London Fashion Week. We worked on projects and assisted on the electronic design of products which aimed at profoundly improving the lives of their users whilst furthering academic research in their field. We took your ideas and your concepts and grew them into viable designs and tangible products. In 2014 we were versatile in our approach and will continue this agility into 2015, with many new customers booked in for consultation and exciting projects on the near horizon.
Cubik saw big change, expanding on all fronts, our modest team of 11 growing to a solid 17, as well as two additional contractors joining the family. Building our stronghold in the Bristol and Bath Science Park’s acclaimed Innovation Centre, now leasing two additional laboratory spaces along with our design office.
We owe the entirety of this fantastic success and progression to our customers and collaborators, the people who make it possible. Collaborators such as the South West Microelectronics iNets Programme which have helped many of our customers fund their work at Cubik and the Engineering Innovation Network who connected us with some truly inspiring creators who we hope to work with in the coming months.
From all the team at Cubik, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank you once more for your business and as 2015 begins we are always keen to hear from corporations, entrepreneurs and inventors alike that have an idea that demands electronic design work, an existing product that is in need of work in both design and production, or perhaps a vehicle for your small batch manufacture needs. As many of you may know, thanks this year came in the form of a unique Cubik Christmas offering, our very own decoration and game, designed and manufactured in-house. To see how we made this happen please click the link! Cubik Christmas Card
Back in 2013, Cubik journeyed over to our friends at the University of the West of England to attend Venturefest South West, a wonderful occasion for technology start-ups, entrepreneurs and inventors to showcase their innovations, encouraging business growth and collaboration. Armed with our manufacturing equipment and a few of our very own creations, Cubik hitched up a stand hoping to expand the ever growing network of talented friends and collaborators, we’ve been fortunate enough to build within the South-West technology hub. It was here, where Cubik first met Joel Gibbard of Open Bionics.
Joel had an extremely developed idea and a venture which was already well and truly underway. He had pioneered a revolutionary, world first; building the prototype of a prosthetic arm with a robotic hand, manufactured almost entirely using 3D printing and scanning. Not only was the product completely unprecedented in terms of technology, the Open Hand project was for the most part financed via Indie Go-Go crowd-funding and used open source information to allow for key collaboration and to ensure a reasonable cost when the finished product would eventually go to market. The team at Cubik could not have been more excited by the prospect of assisting on such a project, which had new technology and a profound mission to make a difference at the forefront of its objective and awarded Joel with a voucher worth a neat £1000 to use at Cubik for design consultation and PCB manufacture.
Shortly after Venturefest, Cubik HQ were ready to set to work on the project and Joel arrived prepared with stacks of electronic designs and layouts ready for Giles Sanders, our in-house PCB layout extraordinaire and Managing director Paul Mullen to unpack and examine. After hours of planning and deliberating around the Cubik meeting table, two design reviews and a few pots of coffee we were ready to manufacture. Joel was impressed with the design and the resulting PCBs, adding- “Without Cubik’s advice we would never have had a design anywhere near the quality it is, the experts at Cubik gave us a really clear idea of our electronic hardware options and their design consultation enabled us to create reliable and high quality PCBs”.
Everyone involved was delighted to play their part in the project, Giles Sanders remarking that “being involved in a project that is so ground breaking, with the potential to change the lives of hundreds of people was an honour and a privilege” adding that “Joel’s creation and design was inspiring”.
A few months on and Joel and the Open Hand project team were ready to undertake their first physical test which took place at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory earlier this week. Daniel Melville, 23 who was born without a right hand, was the first person to be fitted with the robotic hand prosthetic after contacting Joel immediately upon viewing the successful crowd funding campaign online.
Daniel was absolutely sold on the idea of Robot prosthetics and said that from an early age he’d been attempting to park the less functional, cosmetic prosthetic and wished he’d had a “cool” robot hand, commenting- “It would have been amazing when I was younger, I would have loved a 3D printed Power Ranger hand, it would have made me feel a lot better about my difference”.
The testing took on a fast pace, and within twenty minutes Daniel’s arm had been scanned with a 3D sensor creating a mesh, and then a 3D printer was used to create the hand. The socket which took forty hours to print fitted perfectly first time. Olly Mcbride, a student of Robotics at The University of the West of England, who has been helping Joel with programming, affirmed Open Bionics’ success saying- “The best part was seeing the excitement on Dan’s face, as he went round trying to pick up everything he could”, Joel adding the whole process was “heart-warming”.
Joel and his team were delighted with the results but have vowed they still aim to create the perfect solution, targeting the end product to be even more “light-weight, low-cost and creative” and on the prosthetic market by the end of 2015. Open Bionics plan to stick to their original mission and open source all information on completion of their product, making it open to further developments.
Autumn heralded even more success for Open Bionics claiming the runners up position in the Intel’s Make it Wearable competition, winning $200,000 to continue developing bionic hands. Joel and his teammate, Sammy Payne (as pictured) spent weeks in California consulting with UC Berkeley and top Intel Business mentors. Giving his reaction to receiving the prize, Joel said “We totally believe this money will help to revolutionise the prosthetics industry with the use of 3D scanning and 3D printing technology”.
Cubik Innovation were honoured to be able to play our small but vital part in the process and continue to be inspired by the Open Bionics team who are completely focused and impassioned towards their goal of delivering innovative, low cost technology as well as revolutionising the lives of amputees and differently abled people.
Joel congratulated the Cubik team, going on to say- “Working with Cubik was invaluable to the initial successes we've had as they assisted us in creating our first run of electronics control boards for our robotic hand prototype”.
If you have a design in its early stages, an established idea or an existing project which needs mapping in either the electronic design or production phases, please contact us to organise a telephone or face to face consultation, we are constantly on the lookout for our next exciting project and specialise in assisting inventors, entrepreneurs and larger companies take their concept all the way to production.
For more information on Open Bionics and the development of their products please visit www.openbionics.com
This summer our industry celebrated the annual ‘National Women in Engineering Day’, championing the work women do within the sector as well as promoting the excellent career prospects available.
To herald this important occasion, the Engineering Innovation South-West Network launched a Dragon’s Den inspired competition- ‘Women with Bright Ideas 2014’ to run in the subsequent months, the seven finalists were tasked with presenting a commercial and manufactural concept with a view to entice panel members and attending investors to assist with the development of their idea.
Cubik’s managing director, Paul Mullen was selected to join the impressive panel team to judge and scrutinise the ideas the budding entrepreneurs brought to the table. The team comprising of formidable industry leads included Jessica Bent (Withy King Solicitors), Angela Hobbs (Triteq), Peter Stirling (Stirling Dynamics), Ali Hadavizadeh (University of Bath), Lynn Elvins (Design Wales), Ian Weston (NT CAD CAM) and Haydn Earl (EI-SW).
After a series of pitching rounds and a lot careful consideration by the panel, the undisputed decision was reached that two of the designs were impossible to separate in regards to their quality and innovation culminating in a joint first place.
Sharing 1st place were Catherine Dodd and Rose Phelps of Doddl Cutlery, who have pioneered a revolutionary, ergonomic set of children’s cutlery which is designed to make meal times a stress free experience with tools for children to eat more independently and develop into using adult cutlery quicker.
Alongside Doddl was Chloe Meinick a brilliant designer and inventor based in the Pervasive Media studio at Bristol’s Watershed centre. A recent graduate, with an impressive CV of awards and appointments, Chloe has been developing her ‘Musical Memory Box’ aimed at helping Dementia sufferers. The beautifully upholstered box contains objects which are placed into the box, triggering pre-assigned audio which is then played back to the user. The product is unique in the way that it incorporates striking design, innovative electronic design and a genuine mindfulness of user experience.
The entire process of the competition was extremely valuable to all who attended and as a company, Cubik took great pleasure in being involved in such an important event for our industry and the women who make it great. We are extremely excited at the possibility of assisting with the development of some of finalist’s projects and perhaps help Chloe realise her unique innovation. Stay Tuned!
It really does not feel like another year has passed since I last wrote a birthday post, but wow, what a year it has been!
Looking back, this time last year there were 8 of us, now there are 14! We have moved to a larger design office and acquired a new laboratory space to accommodate our customers’ manufacturing requirements. We passed our external ISO 9001 audit with flying colours and acquired a new SlimlineEnvironmental Testing Chamber which allows us to test products to temperatures from minus 40°c to 180°c.
So how did the team celebrate this brilliant year and its second birthday? With a caterpillar cake of course! Oh and balloons, lot of balloons! We held a balloon competition which Production Engineer Steve won hands down, much to Production Manager Sam’s protest, before heading outside for an impromptu team photo.
Director Paul Mullen expressed his delight on the company’s second birthday:
“It has been a fantastic year for Cubik. The input of the team has been fantastic, they are a credit to themselves. We have been very fortunate to have been awarded the level of project work that we have, without our outstanding team this growth would not have been possible”
Looking ahead to the next year there are plenty more exciting and ambitious projects on the horizon.
At the moment we are looking for a new Senior Hardware Engineer and Office Coordinator to join the team, so if you’re looking for an exciting new challenge do let us know!
In the engineering sector, a summer shut down, or at least a slow down is a regular thing. The kids are on their holidays, projects are simmering away slowly, conferences are on hold and funding rounds at this time of year are few and far between.
Here at Cubik Innovation it has been anything but a shut down. It has been so overwhelmingly busy that there hasn’t even been much time to make a cup of tea!
Okay so maybe there has been time to make tea, but just what have we been up to?
We have our very first apprentice! Having carried out work experience with us back in the Summer of last year, Shannon decided that once she had finished her A Levels she really wanted to get straight into work (and the allure of Cubik was of course too much!).
Studying at Wiltshire College for a HNC in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, with access to cutting edge laboratory facilities, equipment and teachers the course will take her three years to complete. Integrating her practical undertakings here at Cubik alongside her studies, Shannon will gain first-hand experience in all areas of electronics consolidating her learning into a qualification.
Although she has only been here a matter of weeks the team is already extremely impressed with her enthusiasm and skill for soldering!
Dan Morgan is on his placement year from Plymouth University where he is studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Immediately having landed on to a big project Dan has been super busy getting stuck in.
Here at Cubik Innovation we have a long standing relationship with Plymouth University, previous interns and a few members of staff studied at the University for their degree. Each year we attend their end of year show and are always very impressed with the projects being undertaken.
Ben Ezard also joined us from The University of the West of England for a Summer Internship. Currently finishing up his Computer Science and Creative Technologies Course we met Ben through the talk given by Paul at The University of the West of England back in March. Although not with us for long, Ben has become a highly valued member of the team. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his studies and future career.
One member is sadly leaving us … Bhavin, who has been our Graduate Electronics Engineer is off to study for a MSc at York University in Digital Systems Engineering. Suffice to say he is very excited about his next adventure although we shall be sad to see him leave us.
Cubik Innovation continually seeks to integrate itself with the academic community, believing that to gain the best employees feeding back first hand industry knowledge is key.
The Science Park continues to grow, there are plenty more companies and people to meet, the Bristol region is certainly alive with new businesses and entrepreneurs. We are very lucky to work in such a vibrant and diverse building giving us the opportunity to foster new collaborations and relationships.
Projects, projects, projects!
At present we have over 20 live projects. Of varying industry sectors and a range of complexities the whole team has been running at full speed. A project of particular interest is that of The Open Hand Project being run by Joel Gibbard which aims to use 3D printing technologies and open source information to bring affordable prosthetics to the market. Next month we shall be doing a full feature of this exciting project so keep an eye out!
As we look forward to the autumn we rapidly approach Cubik’s 2nd Birthday! Celebration plans are well underway, keep checking back for what we get up to!
Here at Cubik Innovation we are very fortunate to have some exceptionally talented team members with some brilliant personalities. In our everyday office life we like to try and enjoy our day as much as possible.
Often the team pops to the pub for a pint but last week it was decided that we should have our first Cubik day trip out. So where do 12 electronics engineers and designers go I hear you ask?! Well, Bletchley Park of course!
Having squashed ourselves onto a mini bus for a couple of hours we arrived at Bletchley Park on a lovely sunny day and headed straight for the enigma machines and the Alan Turing exhibition.
A truly fascinating exhibition it certainly stoked our inner spies and we were eager to head off to the much anticipated Colossus Computer.
Developed by code breakers during the Second World War, it was the world’s first programmable computer designed to decrypt messages sent by enemy machines. In total ten machines were built, all of which were dismantled and many parts destroyed after the war. Being able to see the machine working was something quite special.
Right next door to Bletchley Park is The National Museum of Computing and it was here that the whole team was taken on a special tour. Talking us through the various computing technologies, beginning with the Harwell Dekatron (WITCH), through Mainframes to Sinclairs and Amstrads right up to present day computers, the museum staff had a fascinating and entertaining take on emerging and colliding technologies.
With such a broad range of skill sets our day trip to Bletchley Park has proven to be quite the talking point. Looking to the future of emerging electronic technologies the team continue to seek out new projects requiring the latest know how and the exciting challenges they pose.
In recent months much has been written about Bristol being an exciting new hub of innovation that rivals London and other cities. The technology and manufacturing sector has not only seen increase in funding being made available to business, but also the academic institutions further supporting valuable research.
Buildings like Bristol and Bath Science Park have popped up allowing new business the opportunity to grow through collaboration and learning. With a city full of people and businesses at the top of their game, the city also benefits from great networking events.
Cubik Innovation was recently invited by Spider Group to speak at their annual Tech Talks event, at The Engine Shed, Temple Meads.
Tech Talks are aimed at ‘Connecting people and Technology’ and hosts three individuals within the sector to speak about their specialist areas.
Presenting alongside Director Paul Mullen was Matt Watts from NetApp about the potential marketing opportunities within big data and Luke Briner of PixelPin, on the subject of internet security.
Paul spoke passionately about a subject that Cubik sees on a daily basis as an electronics manufacturer, the advantages of manufacture in the UK.
It has been widely reported in the media and specifically the EEF The Manufacturing Organisation that 40% of business have brought their manufacturing capabilities back to the UK, an increase from one in seven companies in 2009.
This is fantastic news but there are many things that businesses like Cubik can do to help secure the longevity of the UK manufacturing industry by taking firm action themselves.
Outlining Cubik Innovations capabilities as electronics manufacture, Paul gave two threads of how securing this longevity is possible when comparing to low cost countries.
When looking to manufacture an electronics product, a bill of materials is generated at the end of the design development, listing individual component costs. What it fails to list is the required touch time, the intervention of an individual to have the work completed, thus increasing costs.
Paul outlines how ‘we should be considering touch time in the bill of materials’ to reduce overall costs.
Using example PCB design from China and the UK, Paul demonstrated how clever design thinking allows Cubik to ‘consider a different mind set, a different approach’ to reducing costs by factoring in components, as opposed to removing them.
A crucial area that is often forgotten is the supply chain cost implications.
The benefits of using a UK supplier in terms of lower stock holdings, better management costs, the ability to tailor your stock requirements and manufacturing in smaller quantities often far outweigh that of low cost country manufacture.
‘Designing for manufacture in the UK’ and weighing up the benefits all of these areascan only but help secure the UK’s economy for the long term says Paul.
With a panel session at the end of the talk, there were some thought provoking questions posed by the audience attendees which made for an interesting comparison between the talks.
Cubik Innovation and Paul look forward to the next opportunity to speak with local members of the technology and manufacturing sector in Bristol.
Photography by: www.rupertmarlowphotography.com
Cubik Innovation are very fortunate to have the opportunity to not only work on some brilliant projects but also with some very interesting customers.
Recently one of the team was invited to help with a new art installation by artist Luke Jerram at the Chrylser Museum of Art Commissions, Virginia, USA.
Having assisted on the development of a modification to his kinetic sculptures based at the Cubik offices, an extra pair of hands were required to make sure all went smoothly. For this particular project, attention was focused on finding an electronic solution to low light levels to allow the installation to function. A priority of this solution was that it would not be intrusive to the gallery viewer.
Due to our extensive knowledge and skills, Cubik has the ability to help on a project at any stage of development and successfully resolved this particular problem with creativity and skill.
It was a privilege to be able to help out our client in their final phase of work and see the finished sculpture in its new location.
If you would like to read more about the development of the project and its installation head on over to our Case Studies page to find out more!
Director Paul Mullen gave a lecture to Computer Science and Creative Technologies students at The University of the West of England this month. Invited by Associate Head of Department, Dr John Hunt, Paul spoke to students about first hand experiences of running a start-up, as well as working for one.
A number of the students currently studying on all levels of the course within the Faculty of Environment and Technology requested a local speaker to talk about the logistics of setting up, running and maintaining the business through its start-up phase.
Cubik has seen a dramatic increase of inventors and entrepreneurs looking to develop electronic products, primarily due to easier market access provided by online crowd funding platforms. The talk was the perfect opportunity to address not only the highs of setting out on your own, but also the associated pit falls which can help shape the development of the business.
Paul summarised the value of running your own business beyond the day to day management:
‘Setting up on your own is daunting, it involves juggling a lot of balls in the air but it is hugely rewarding. It can go beyond being just financially profitable into being a very gratifying life style business.’
There were a number of questions posed by the students in attendance at the end of the lecture which not only demonstrated how engaged they are in their current studies, but also their forward thinking aptitude towards business.It is hoped that one day Cubik Innovation will able to do business with these future entrepreneurs.
As Cubik expands ever further it has taken up yet more office space at Bristol and Bath Science Park, making it Cubik’s second laboratory space.
Returning to a former office within the building, the Cubik team have been hard at work turning it into a fully functioning laboratory space. With new environmental testing capabilities and additional pick and place, re-flow oven and AOI equipment, this self-contained lab will be dedicated to one single project and four new production team members. It will allow total control of the production line to ESD and IPC standards.
Barely even 18 months old, this most recent expansion at Cubik just goes to show how busy the electronics manufacture industry in the UK is.
Cubik has previously assisted a number of clients who have decided to re-shore their manufacturing capabilities back to the UK after running into difficulties with other suppliers overseas.
Promoting manufacture in the UK is a key target of Cubik as it not only means its clients remain hands on with their product but also allows revenue to remain in the local economy.
Cubik looks forward to developing and manufacturing this product completely on site in the coming months and shipping directly from The Bristol and Bath Science Park.
Paul will be one of three technical specialists talking about different areas of technology or business which can help small and medium enterprises. Find out more and register.
Tech Talks #10 – Bringing Business and Technology Together
When: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 from 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM
Where: Armada House, Bristol
Paul Mullen: Creative Manufacture in the UK
Having over 20 years hands on experience in the electronic product manufacturing industry, entrepreneur Paul Mullen decided to embrace a new challenge eighteen months ago by setting up Cubik Innovation.
A business solely focusing on helping inventors, entrepreneurs and SME’s bring their electronic products to market, it was set up when many electronic manufacturers in the region were closing down.
Starting with one employee and having grown to over twelve in those 18 months, Paul will tell us why manufacture in the UK is not just the future, but how it is happening right now and how it’s a game changer.
A new year brings new contracts to Cubik!
Cubik and the team had a well deserved Christmas and New Years break, on their return they were ready and raring to go!
So much so Cubik landed a new contract with Wessex Water, this contract alongside another will double the turnover of the business which is a fantastic start to the new year!
This is a very exciting time for the whole team and a massive step change to the company. It will not only secure the longevity of the business but also create new roles.
Cubik Innovation celebrated its first year in business this month with a celebratory slice of cake! Having taken up premises at Bristol and Bath Science Park in September 2012, Cubik Innovation has quickly grown to a team of eight employees and enjoys a rapidly expanding client list.
Assisting entrepreneurs, inventors and other small businesses in electronic product and prototype design, it is specialised in its knowledge of helping clients bringing new products to market. It works in a variety of industry sectors including Industrial, Telecommunications and Security.
With 20 years’ experience in the electronics industry, Managing Director Paul Mullen expressed his delight and ambitions for Cubik:
“We have had a great first year. The team has grown significantly this year, driven entirely by the requirements of our customers. We have delivered significant electronic product designs and in addition have shipped several thousand units of customer product, all manufactured at the science park. The cake isn’t bad either!”
Having successfully shipped Bristol and Bath Science Parks first products earlier in February, the business continues to go from strength to strength with its highly skilled team and on site manufacturing facilities.
In addition, Cubik shall be hosting a stand at this year’s Venturefest to be held at the UWE Conference Centre in November. They will be demonstrating their manufacturing capabilities and typical projects carried out.