Refrigerants used in automotive A/C systems are highly regulated to avoid accidental discharge of harmful gases into the atmosphere. These regulations require the use of specialized equipment to recover & recycle used refrigerant from vehicles, then recharge them with the recycled gas.
While developing a new machine for recently-updated refrigerant standards, Mastercool asked us to assist them in updating both the functionality & aesthetics of their old design. They wanted a user- & maintenance-friendly form factor that would be relatively compact, cheap, & easy to manufacture. They also expressed a keen interest in making the final design sleek & sexy (“like a fast car”) to contrast with the chunky & utilitarian look of previous designs.
Creative took a holistic, integrative approach to blending the form & function of the Mastercool device. Rather than simply engineering the guts & wrapping them in a cosmetic shell or generating an arbitrary “look” & trying to cram a large number of components into it, we focused on generating coherent aesthetic & mechanical iterations of each aspect of the design to approach the client’s vision as closely & elegantly as possible.
This approach led us to an “exoskeleton” of three roto-molded parts: the top/handle, the front, & the chassis, each of which serve both structural & cosmetic functions. Inexpensive steel channels connect the chassis to the handle, completing the frame & providing a robust structure that can stand up to the daily abuse of an auto shop.
Sheet metal brackets provide rigid mounting for the numerous internal components, while allowing easy access for service. The frame itself provides mounts for cosmetic user-facing components, including injection-molded side doors, a rear cover, & a swappable front cover that’s easily replaced for re-branding.
We supplied several high-quality renderings of our design for the client’s use in marketing & user guides, including several transparent views that showcase the internal components. These renderings are still featured on Mastercool’s website & brochures, & give some insight into the challenge posed by holistically merging such a complicated mechanism with a cool aesthetic.