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Kids Turn Toy News

SensAble’s FreeForm® Helps Hot Buttered Elves Design and Manufacture Eco-Friendly New Wallables™ 3D Foam Sculptures

Wallables Parents Can “Go Green” while Decorating their Children’s Rooms with Beloved Characters; FreeForm’s Sculptural CAD Provides Superb Detail and Production Efficiencies

WOBURN, Mass. --(Business Wire)-- Sep 15, 2009 SensAble Technologies, Inc announced that its customer, Hot Buttered Elves, a toy design company in Los Angeles, launched a new line of Wallables™ 3D foam décor products made from a unique “green” polyurethane material made from US-grown soybeans. These playful stick-on wall decorations were efficiently designed and manufactured to exacting licensed character makers’ standards thanks to SensAble’s FreeForm® 3D modeling system. Today’s debut of 15 new characters includes “Jungle Sweets” – hippos, zebras, and giraffes– along with classic childhood favorites made from soy-based polyurethane foam enabled by RENUVA™ Renewable Resource Technology from The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW). These new "Wallables with RENUVA Inside” allow parents to create a better environment for their children’s rooms – and the planet – while supporting US-driven manufacturing and design innovation.

SensAble’s FreeForm modeling system enabled Hot Buttered Elves to design and manufacture its new Wallables in half the time of traditional processes, while faithfully preserving intricate character detail allowed by the improved material properties of the proprietary foam formulation based on RENUVA technology. The new Wallables are on display at the 7th annual ABC Kids Expo (All Baby and Child) at the Las Vegas Convention Center today, and will be on sale starting November 2009 on the Internet, and in Spring of 2010 at major retailers such as Babies“R”Us and Toys“R”Us.

“With FreeForm, we moved from concept to approved tooling copies with eight of the new Wallables in under 20 days, which is unheard of in our industry, even for a company like us that specializes in expediting sculptural design,” said Dan Garr, president of Hot Buttered Elves who created the Wallables line. “The RENUVA-based foam material doesn’t rip or tear when it is cut in unusual shapes, which gave us the ability to manufacture our new Wallables with much more 3D character detail. FreeForm was the only solution that could have allowed us this much sculptural freedom and efficiency in both design and production.”

First introduced as a fund raiser program for children's hospitals in Southern California, Wallables have grown into a larger consumer product line with lovable characters that play music, glow in the dark and seem to jump off the wall -- making them very inviting for small hands to touch, feel and experience. In keeping with his commitment to the environment beyond interior walls, Dan Garr sought to expand the Wallables product line with more earth-friendly materials and processes that would still support a lightweight, safe and detail-rich foam product. He contracted with Dow Polyurethanes about their new RENUVA technology, which replaces traditional petroleum-based raw materials with plant-based materials from soybeans farmed in the US. The proprietary foam formulation made with RENUVA has a thicker skin and higher tear strength and also provides the ability to create designs with greater detail and dimensionality.

SensAble’s Freeform Modeling Plus software allowed Hot Buttered Elves’ designers to achieve intricate sculptural details and to get the Wallables characters “on model” – to finished design – twice as fast as it would take to sculpt them by hand, or by using a typical parametric CAD program. FreeForm also enabled Hot Buttered Elves to define the complex, highly irregular parting lines required to create the manufacturing molds, made difficult by the seemingly flat yet still dimensional nature of the material.

“In manufacturing, if you make incorrect assumptions on undercuts for a flexible material that does not come out of the mold correctly, you can easily triple or quadruple tooling costs,” said Dan Garr of Hot Buttered Elves. “Beyond that, sculpting with so much detail in a traditional CAD program would have taken an enormous amount of time. We used FreeForm’s digital tools to design with exceptional speed, and to shape and place the parting line for each Wallable’s mold exactly where we want it, while still avoiding undercuts. In FreeForm, the undercuts and conflict areas for molding and manufacturing are easy to adjust and control.”

FreeForm’s flexibility let Hot Buttered Elves’ designers create character sculptures with more depth than ever before – allowing them to push the traditional boundaries of bas-relief sculpting as if each Wallable was a full 3D character. This method of sculpting creates an amazing illusion – all within a 2-inch depth. “Our approach to digital sculpting with FreeForm yields a product line that will redefine wall decor for future characters and licensing programs for millions of people to enjoy,” Dan added.

“Hot Buttered Elves are as creative and inventive as their name,” said Joan Lockhart, vice president of sales and marketing for SensAble Technologies. “They have taken FreeForm’s digital sculpting capabilities into a new dimension and applied their design talents to produce environmentally friendly products. They have also realized the benefits of FreeForm’s ‘design-for-manufacture’ approach, ensuring that sculptural designs can be manufactured successfully. We look forward to a successful launch of this high-profile line of new licensed characters,” Lockhart added.


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About Hot Buttered Elves
Hot Buttered Elves, Inc. is a toy based prototyping and engineering company based in Southern California. The company began in the film industry, and has maintained over 12 years of experience in creating special effects and sculpting for the film industry. Its president Dan Garr has worked on over 10 films ranging from ‘Forever Young’ through the Academy Award winning, ‘Titanic.’

As the special effects industry became more dependent on CGI and digital effects Dan transitioned his skills and his company towards prototyping and digital modeling for the robust toy and product invention industry. Hot Buttered Elves is nationally known for character sculpting, product development and toy and collectible sculpting and manufacturing for a variety of studios and companies. The company creates products both by traditional hand sculpting, and 3D computer modeling. This combination provides a product with incredible detail for the highest standards achievable.

Hot Buttered Elves supports many of the largest toy manufacturers in the world with their prototyping and engineering expertise. To learn more, please visit hotbutteredelves.com.

About SensAble Technologies
Founded in 1993, SensAble Technologies is a leading developer of 3D touch-enabled (force feedback) solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually “feel” it. With 41 patents granted and over 7,000 systems installed worldwide, SensAble Technologies' haptic technology is being used in applications ranging from designing toys and footwear, to surgical simulation and stroke rehabilitation, to dental restorations, as well as a range of research and robotic applications. The company markets its own 3D modeling solutions as well as its haptic devices and developer toolkits to medical, dental, design, and manufacturing companies; educational and research institutions; and OEMs. SensAble products are available through direct and reseller channels worldwide. www.sensable.com.

FreeForm, SensAble and SensAble Technologies, Inc. are trademarks or registered trademarks of SensAble Technologies, Inc. RENUVA™ Renewable Resource Technology is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company ("Dow") or an affiliated company of Dow.

Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective holders.