The Connectory Story: Insight into a Product Developer’s Playground

Having a workshop on site helps us quickly find out what works and what doesn’t, accelerating our entire product development process
— George Sidis

IDE Connect talks with Co-founder and Managing Director of ide Group, George Sidis to find out more about the big move to The Connectory. We also chat with some of ide Group’s Product Developers for a fun look at some of the machinery and tools The Connectory has to offer.

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IDE Connect: What was the catalyst for moving to The Connectory? 

George Sidis: There were a few actually. The team was growing and the space we were in was getting too small for us. We also wanted to grow our onsite capabilities for pilot production, manufacturing and prototyping. When we first moved in to our previous premises we were only eight people and the size of our workshop was functional, but somewhat limited. Our team has since quadrupled in size and our new workshop is now ten times the size of our previous one. 

IC: How did you know The Connectory was ‘The One’?

GS: We had a clear vision of what we wanted and spent a long time looking for it. We were looking for the right combination of office space for the primary work that we do, as well as on site access to a workshop, lab testing, prototyping and pilot production facilities. 

Accessibility was also a factor. The Connectory is located in Leichhardt which is the perfect position. Being right next to the Lewisham Station and Taverners Hill light rail makes it a very easy place to get to.

It was also important to us that the building had an industrial heritage. Deep down, we are a group of designers and engineers that like making things. Being in a building where you know things used to be made was definitely something that we were looking for. We were very fortunate to find that at The Connectory. It was also great to find a building that was in need of a tenant and a bit of work to bring it back to life.

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IC: What are some of the advantages of having a workshop on site?

GS: A well-equipped workshop for making and testing prototypes and mock ups is a fundamental tool used by engineers and designers to discover new opportunities and develop new design and technology. Our new workshop has capabilities that include 3D printing, machining and fabrication, electronics/PCB prototyping and injection moulding to name a few. The existence of these capabilities in house means we learn faster through the product development process. By quickly finding out what works and what doesn’t we accelerate our entire product development process.

The other advantage of having the expanded manufacturing facility on site is that we now have the ability to do low volume pilot production that can be used for verification and validation all the way through to actual sale. This means that we can operate production under our ISO13485 certified Quality System and produce commercial products in a way compliant and expected by regulatory authorities. 

Having a pilot manufacturing facility onsite means that our clients and partners now have the option of setting up a controlled, compliant production capability without a large capital outlay. It is perfect for producing products for verification and validation trials, or for a soft launch to test market reaction. It also provides us with an opportunity to learn from the pilot production process and get the supplier controls and production processes right before scaling up to high volume manufacturing. Most importantly, our new space enables us to make sure design intent is carried through into manufacturing. 

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IC: If you could take one machine or tool home with you from the workshop, which one would it be and why?

Penny Flicker: Things break so I would take the 3D printing machine so I could fix things around my house. Also, think about all of the Lego creations you could make if you had a 3D printer! The possibilities are endless.

Elizabeth Van Niekerk: The Linisher. I would get the most benefit out of it for polishing things. I also like that it gives you a variety of surface finishes. It’s the perfect tool to use on the ‘home stretch’ to add the finishing touches to something you’re making. 

Huw Wallis: I would take the three tonne crane home so I could move anything I want around in my house. 

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Gianluigi Bortoluzzi: I would take the flammable cabinet for my chilli paste. I recently bought the spiciest chilli in the world and I need somewhere to put it. 

Patrick Dunn: The Air Compressor. That’s one thing that I would take home. You can do all sorts of things with it. You can clean your workshop or pump up tyres. You can also attach a spray gun and get a really high quality finish on anything from a car ding to furniture. 

Aaron Russell: ‘The CRO’ which is the Cathode Ray Oscilloscope. The CRO visualises electricity. It takes electrical signals and turns it into visible waves you can see. The reason it’s cool is because any electrical signal, waveform or vibration that exists in the universe can be broken down into sets of sine waves. This means you can take any signal and figure out what it’s made of. Then you can understand it. Electronics is entirely abstract, you can’t see it and you only know it’s there when it affects something, like a light or a motor. The CRO allows you to turn the abstract into something visible.

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Kasia Krol: The 3D printing machine because it gives you a wide range of possibilities. It helps you realise what you can only imagine. 

Marcela Lopez: The Jigsaw. It’s such a great tool because you can make anything you want and it’s so easy to use. You can use it to cut out many different materials and create very quick mock-ups. It also doesn’t need a lot of space, just a table and some clamps. 

Abhiruchi Chhikara: The Rotary Drill Press. I just like it. You can do so much with it. Unlike the hand drill, the drill press always drills straight. Some of the other machines can have a mind of their own. With the drill press, you feel connected to it when you’re using it.

Kelsey Krauter: The Hydraulic Press. I would use it for making paper for one of my university projects. One of the steps is pressing wet paper and you need a lot of pressure to do this. Having the press would make it a lot easier. 

Damian Savio: The workshop bench with attached vice. I feel this is one of the most versatile tools in the workshop. Almost everything you do in the workshop requires a flat bench and a vice. If I want to sand along surface, chances are I will need a bench with a vice. Likewise if I want to cut or drill something. The bench with attached vice is also great because it requires very little maintenance.

Matthew Huckson: A pencil. With a pencil, you can create anything.

Ray Wills: The Injection Moulding Machine. It’s the closest thing you can get to real production. It provides a real replicate of how your parts are actually going to turn out and allows you to make low quantities. You get a lot of answers with this machine.

Alison von Moger: I don’t think I could pick just one. Having the whole set up at The Connectory and the ability to test and make things is so useful. So often we need to make mock ups or prototypes. Having access to all of this space with the right tools that we need is great. It gives us the flexibility to do what we want or need to do, instead of having to improvise with the wrong tools.  

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Erin Evanochko