The Atom Blaster is Nerf Toy developed from my Master's research performed for Hasbro in 2005. This mechanism of projecting balls is patented.
The Atom Blaster started as a concept called the Hand Popper. It is a simple and effective way of projecting foam balls a good distance. The Hand Popper utilizes a bistable spring called a "Hopper Popper" to store energy. The foam ball can be loaded off of any surface or out of hand and is retained until the user presses the trigger. The projected foam balls from the Hand Popper can reach distances further than foam balls projected from the state of the art blasters.
The following are highlights of our product design process:
Brainstorming (top concepts in hierarchy): notice the hand popper began as a foam grenade in the 2nd tier
Stomp Grenade Concept Evolution: The Hand Popper concept was an off-shoot of a Foam Grenade concept shown below from sketch to sketch model to mockup.
Hand Popper Sketches: The original concept attached the popper to the hand.
Evolution of the Hand Popper Prototype: The hand popper style refined through iterations. The trigger, grip, ball retention mechanism, and inside cavity geometry differs in all iterations.
High Speed Photography of Popper: These images were used to compute velocities and geometries required for the final iteration.
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