Start Your Story: Chris Bellamy

Chris Bellamy at the 2013 Present Around The World Global Final
We launched the Start Your Story campaign to promote the IET as a place for young engineering and tech entrepreneurs to gain skills, contacts and develop their ideas to become our future innovators. So far our campaign film has been viewed over 20,000 times and showcases our Global Challenge and Present Around The World (PATW) competition.

As part of this campaign we have been getting back in contact with IET members who have used these competitions as a launch-pad to commercial success.
 
Recently we spoke to Chris Bellamy who won the 2013 Present Around The World competition while on the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) graduate scheme with a talk on the design, manufacture and testing of carabiners. Since winning he’s become a Chartered Engineer and moved to Canada, where he joined technology start-up Wiivv Wearables.
 
He has now launched a Kickstarter campaign to help produce the tooling needed to make the world’s first custom fit sandals.
 
“PATW introduced me to the IET and made me aware of what it does. Becoming chartered and being part of the IET gave me the confidence to move overseas and start working in Canada, which is where I met Wiivv,” Chris says. “The IET community meant that I was able to quickly make connections when I arrived – moving to Canada has made me realise just how important and universal the skills of engineers are.
 
“PATW gave me confidence in my ideas and showed me how to communicate them effectively,” he continues. “Working in a start-up is very different to working in a huge organisation like JLR. Rather than pitching and presenting internally, I now mostly use those skills to demonstrate the great work we are doing to customers and the public.”
 
Founded two years ago, Wiivv Wearables started by developing 3D printed insoles, which were digitally mapped from customers’ smartphones. Chris is one of a team of four mechanical engineers and is tasked with overseeing product designs as well as optimising manufacturing processes.

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“The insoles were the biggest ever 3D printed project funded on Kickstarter and the production facility in San Diego has now created more than 10,000 pairs of custom insoles, with fantastic customer and laboratory results,” Chris says.
 
“The company kept getting requests to make customised sandals. Huge numbers of our customers informed us that they could never wear sandals because of the poor support and foot problems they caused. So we put our heads together to see if we could come up with a solution – and that is when the Wiivv custom fit sandal was born.”
 
Wiivv Wearables says that it’s one of the first companies in the world to offer customised items that are produced at mass production scale using 3D printed materials. It has also developed a simple and intuitive process to capture the necessary foot data.
 
“This is Wiivv’s secret sauce,” Chris says. “All you need is a smartphone and you can do this from the comfort of your home. We have proven this process to be highly accurate and repeatable.
 
“We are also pioneering new manufacturing techniques and principles,” he continues. “We are most proud of pushing local manufacturing. For example, if we hit a certain goal in our campaign, then we can open a new factory in a new market - and we intend to replicate these small local production facilities around the world.
 
“There would be very few efficiency benefits to expanding our factory in San Diego due to the nature of 3D printing, however, by replicating this small factory around the world we can reduce the environmental impact of our logistics, reduce the costs of our shipping, reduce our time to deliver products to customers, and meet individual market needs. While it might be different to convention – when you look at it with fresh eyes, it is the obvious choice!”
 
The current Kickstarter campaign was launched in order to raise funds for creation of the necessary tooling.
 
“We are fusing conventional manufacturing processes with adaptive manufacturing processes to create this custom product while remaining durable and cost effective. The nature of making footwear products like this is that a huge investment is required to create all sizes across male and female designs,” Chris explains. “We are hoping to get enough support and interest in the project to cover the cost of the tooling required to create the full variety of sizes for this product. In the process this will validate that there is a market for and interest in affordable custom footwear. This project is just a stepping stone to help us on our journey to more complex and exciting mass customised products.”
 
You can find out more about Wiivv Wearables and its current Kickstarter campaign and if you are 18-30 and want to enter the Present Around The World competition please go to our competition map to see if there is a heat near you.
 
*Please note that the IET is not recommending or otherwise endorsing an investment in the company. You are recommended to read the terms of any pledge carefully, and if you are in any doubt, take independent legal advice.
Posted by Steve Benveniste on Apr 10, 2017 10:15 AM Europe/London

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