Picture Perfect: Red Robot Photo Booths Maximize Efficiency with Solid Edge

Photo booth maker Red Robot uses Solid Edge to make its product designs more efficient.

These days, it’s difficult to imagine attending a wedding, charity gala or corporate holiday party that doesn’t have a photo booth, complete with props and an event hashtag to share on social media. The rise in popularity of the photo booth is a worldwide phenomenon. This year, companies from more than 40 countries exhibited at the Photo Booth Expo 2017.

This year’s Photo Booth Expo had 344 booth space reservations, up from 137 in 2015. Red Robot Photo Booths was one of the exhibitors, as well as a sponsor of the Expo, which took place from March 20–22 in Las Vegas. ENGINEERING.com sat down with Duncan Amos, director and cofounder of Red Robot, to talk about the growing company and the CAD-based design challenges of its products.

“We’re the biggest photo booth maker in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Amos, an affable Australian. “600 people have set up businesses with our photo booths.”

Duncan Amos, director and cofounder of Red Robot. Photo courtesy of Red Robot.

Duncan Amos, director and cofounder of Red Robot. (Photo courtesy of Red Robot.)

Red Robot manufactures photo booths and other products entrepreneurs can use to supplement an existing business—or make a new one. The company offers several turnkey portable photo booths, including the ATOM Portable Photo Booth, the Modular Photo Station, the Classic Photo Booth (an enclosed model) and the InstaPod hashtag printer. Its most popular model is the Retro Photo Booth, which has a vintage-style design and is only 13.8 kg (30.4 lb) for easy portability. The company also manufactures the Mirror Me Photo Booth, which was developed by Foto Master.

Red Robot’s Retro Photo Booth, it’s most popular product. Image courtesy of Red Robot.

Red Robot’s Retro Photo Booth, it’s most popular product. (Image courtesy of Red Robot.)

In addition to turnkey photo booths, Red Robot can customize products to reinforce a company’s brand. Customers of Red Robot’s customized solutions include Lipton, IBM, Wild Turkey bourbon and Campari. The company even designed a Dr. Who TARDIS-themed photo booth for BBC Worldwide.

Headquartered in Australia, Red Robot has a classic start-up story, as founders (and friends) Amos and Phil Preston began building photo booths in their Canberra garage in 2007. Since then, the company has grown to serve customers across Australia, the U.S., UK and Europe, providing a range of booths that are social media and green screen enabled, as well as those that offer the traditional printed photo-strip experience.

Red Robot has been honored with several design and business awards, including the 2014 Sydney and Melbourne Design Awards, the 2014 Australian Startup Awards – Hilton Product Business of the Year, and the 2015 ACT Telstra Business Award.

Designed for Success

Red Robot photo booths are shipped flat and assembled—IKEA-style—by the customer.

“Shipping from Australia, often to the U.S., adds a lot to the costs,” said Amos. Because most booths are airshipped, reducing the volume of the as-shipped “flat packs” is a key cost driver.

Because of this, he added, each booth is essentially designed twice: once for the way it looks and works when assembled, and second for efficient packaging and shipping.

Amos said an old package design used to cost $300 to ship, but the company’s new redesign only costs $90.

Although many Australian companies export manufacturing, Amos values having his production on the premises. “I can go into the shop showing my design on a Microsoft Surface Book,” he said. “With us all working in one location, it makes communications much easier.”

Many of Red Robot’s manufacturing employees still use 2D drawings. “Solid Edge is really good with making drawings,” he said. And new employees who need to learn the program pick it up quickly. “One of our latest hires picked up Solid Edge in a matter of days,” he added.

Amos spoke persuasively about the benefits of Solid Edge from Siemens PLM Software, especially the program’s Synchronous Technology.

He credits Solid Edge with reducing design time and lowering the cost of Red Robot’s new Retro Photo Booth. “We managed to do it in three design iterations,” he said. “The first iteration let us fix tolerancing. The second had to do with aesthetics. Compare that to 20 iterations—that’s 20 prototype builds—for the previous Retro design. The difference in time, start to finish, was phenomenal, from eight months to one month!”

Red Robot relies on Solid Edge for product design. Image courtesy of Red Robot.

Red Robot relies on Solid Edge for product design. (Image courtesy of Red Robot.)

Amos is also excited by the ability of Solid Edge to take parts from other CAD programs and modify them—often faster than what can be done by the native programs themselves.

“We looked at SOLIDWORKS—doesn’t everybody?” he said. “We tested it with a part that we needed changed, and it was not easy with the history tree. You practically had to undo the whole part. I think they gave up. With Solid Edge, the part was brought in and modified, quick as a wink.”

Local Innovation with a Global Reach

Just as the Red Robot team continues to innovate its products through better design, the company also strives to help entrepreneurs find success. Next up is the Canberra Creative Innovation Hub Project, a new initiative that focuses on manufacturing and physical start-up ideas. The project will provide a space that will bring creative people from different fields together to give life to products that can “impact lives across the globe.”

Red Robot photo booths are used by entrepreneurs at events around the world. Image courtesy of Red Robot.

Red Robot photo booths are used by entrepreneurs at events around the world. (Image courtesy of Red Robot.)

Siemens has sponsored this article. It has provided no editorial input other than verification of the technical facts. All opinions are mine. —Lisa Lance