Dragons Den missed out on this one!

John Darlington and Hillside Product Design collaborated to produce the Grabrake


Hillside Product Design is proud of the continued success of the Grabrake, which is manufactured here in the UK.  John Darlington pitched his product idea to the Dragons in the notorious Den during series 4, February 2007. Although unsuccessful in securing funding for his innovative idea, he refused to be deterred and continued to work hard to make it a reality.  Grabrake has been on the market since 2012 and can be found on the shelves in garden centres across the UK, it can also be purchased on-line through the Grabrake website.

John Darlington and Hillside Product Design collaborated to produce the Grabrake, a garden rake that is robust, lightweight and incorporates a grab claw designed to efficiently combine the collection process with the picking up of garden waste materials - leaves, grass and more. Grabrake eliminates the need to continually bend down to pick up sweepings, making it an ideal tool for gardeners, especially those who find bending over to be strenuous and painful. The Grabrake operates with one easy pull action and materials can be grabbed, moved and released without moving from the normal raking position.

Development in Design
John had already developed the rake as a prototype and Hillside were brought on board to take the product through to manufacture. This required specific support to improve the strength and mould-ability of the component parts and also to support John through the tooling and manufacture of the product. Areas around the grab arm pivot and control rod mountings would be put under significant and repetitive loads during use and the resultant stress points needed to be relieved and eliminated.


Product Confidence
To do this, Finite Element Analysis (or FEA) of the 3D CAD models was used to first evaluate the stresses in each area and then again to see the effect that any changes to the geometry and the addition of reinforcement features achieved. As a private inventor John had limited resources and he had to be confident that the design was right first time. The level of confidence was such that there was no need for a sign off prototype and the CAD files went straight to tooling. The first time the product would be put to the test would be with parts produced from the tooling.

Client Consultancy Relationship
Hillside supported John throughout the transition from his original prototype all the way through to his fully finished product leaving the factory en-route to the distributor. This was helped along by an excellent working relationship and the trust John had built up in Hillside. John has recently said to Chris Howsam (Hillside Managing Director) ‘’I found your knowledge and understanding of the project very reassuring”. 

The Dragons let this one go but with some help from Hillside Product Design, John went on to have the dream of his own product become a reality.

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If you’ve got an idea you want to take to market, we will assist you through your journey. Even the most accomplished will require assistance which is where Hillside Product Design’s expertise is invaluable.  We work closely with all our clients to ensure they have all the support they need throughout the product development process.

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