Game UI/UX designer and Bottango founder Evan McMahon has a passion for introducing people to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through arts education. This “STEAM” powered mentality is evident in Bottango’s latest product release: a DIY animatronic parrot kit named “Maxwell.
At a Glance
Industry: Animatronics and Software
Services: Online laser cutting and powder coating
Summary: Evan McMahon and Torrey Sprague, founders of the software company Bottango, wanted to make STEM education accessible and exciting through a creative, hands-on project. Pairing their custom animation software with simple DIY animatronics kits was a perfect solution.
Solutions: Using SendCutSend laser cut and powder coated parts, the Bottango team was able to manufacture custom parts for their animatronics kits at a fraction of the cost, making a kit that is accessible and adorable.
Online Laser Cuttin for Custom Animatronics
As a video game UI/UX developer veteran, Evan McMahon has a unique interest in seeing how the arts can be used in tandem with technology to create cutting edge products and get more people excited about STEM. With a special passion dedicated to Disney Imagineering and theme park animatronics, Evan saw an opportunity to innovate within the field and make creating and programming animatronics easier than ever before. It was from this passion that Evan created Bottango, a software company that specializes in offering free animation software for custom animatronics.
Bottango’s community of users covers a huge range of industries, from hobbyists to stage production designers to roboticists. Bottango allows users to set up their designs with joints, motors, and unitless 3D graphics. The designer can then create new animations for their project by setting “tracks” for each motor to pose or move the motors and joints, or make their design speak or sing with a custom audio track. The designs can be paired with live input so the physical objects can be remotely controlled. The applications for Bottango are nearly limitless, making room for even more people to join the wave of individuals using the arts to innovate in the world of STEM.
“We really have the best community of users that has supported our software from the very beginning. We’re excited to see that community grow with some of our newer products, and hopefully we’ll be able to help a whole new generation of people get excited about animatronics and robotics.”
With this customizable, accessible software, Evan wanted to create something to bridge the gap in available creative STEAM education. Calling back to the animatronics he found fascinating in theme parks and arts productions, Evan and Bottango co-founder Torrey Sprague began designing a DIY animatronics kit to get people of all ages involved in hands-on STEAM education. This kit would eventually be called “Louie,” a lovable bear with a soft exterior who can move, talk, and sing using commands programmed with Bottango.
As Louie moved into the prototyping stage, Evan and Torrey faced some issues with manufacturing the structural parts and the skin that made Louie look more approachable and lifelike. They realized early on that in order to get their first animatronic kits out of the prototyping stage, they needed to pivot the design to something made from parts which are more easily manufacturable, especially at scale. As the two brainstormed new designs, a tropical parrot came to mind. Parrots talk and move in ways that are easily replicated in animatronics. More importantly, the design supports affordable and easily machined wood parts which help give the parrot a more “tropical” look and feel. From this design, “Maxwell” emerged.
SendCutSend and the Making of Maxwell
As Evan and Torrey’s discussions about manufacturing processes progressed, they discovered laser cutting to be the best option for fabricating many of the parts necessary to build Maxwell. They turned to SendCutSend for a few initial prototyping runs, and Evan was shocked by the speed and tolerances.
“SendCutSend makes it so easy to prototype and develop. I can see exactly how much the run is going to cost as soon as we upload the files, and they arrive so quickly, it’s easy to turn around and place an order for the second iteration in just a few days.”
There are quite a few parts featured in Maxwell’s build that were manufactured using SendCutSend processes. Maxwell’s structure and exterior is made mostly of laser cut MDF with vinyl stickers used to give him his blue “feathers” and cheerful expression. Several of the core structural elements inside the Maxwell build feature powder coated aluminum. Evan and Torrey use SendCutSend’s matte black powder coating option so these structural components can be easily hidden in the rest of Maxwell’s parts, giving a stronger illusion of him being a real bird with lifelike movements.
“We love having the laser cut MDF as part of this kit because the darkened, raw edge gives you the sense of Maxwell being a real tropical bird. It fits really well with his aesthetic design and makes all of the parts included look more purposeful.”
Animatronics Taken to New Heights
Maxwell is a one-of-a-kind bird, with the kit Evan and Torrey developed being high quality, well designed, and thoughtfully prepared and packaged. Bottango (and Maxwell) are poised to soar to new heights with this recent kit release and the anticipated addition of Louie to the animatronics lineup.
With each new part manufactured and each kit sent out, Bottango is changing the face of STEAM education and introducing a whole new generation to the magic of animatronics. Proud of the accomplishments with the kits already, Evan and Torrey are looking forward to seeing how people continue to get excited about their technological innovations.
It’s Easy to Use SendCutSend for Test Runs and Prototypes
Evan and Torrey are veterans when it comes to optimizing SendCutSend’s services for their business. With so many aspects of Maxwell featuring SendCutSend parts, they’re more familiar than most with our services and offerings. So Evan has some advice for other entrepreneurs and business owners looking to use SendCutSend to fulfill their online laser cutting needs.
“It’s so easy to get started with SendCutSend and so easy to place a test run or prototype order. My best advice is to just give it a try, because once you do, you won’t be able to stop. Maxwell as he is would have been much more difficult to produce without SendCutSend, so if production or manufacturing is holding your business back, SendCutSend is probably the way to go.”
Take Flight With Maxwell
The future holds endless possibilities for Bottango, where they’re not just creating animatronic parrots but nurturing a community of creators and dreamers who can push the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of robotics and animatronics. Stay tuned for a future filled with innovation, creativity, and the magic of Maxwell!
Maxwell is the coolest bird we’ve ever met and we’re super excited to be part of Bottango’s latest success. You can get your own Maxwell today through Bottango’s online storefront. And be sure to follow along with their Instagram to stay up to date on the latest innovations coming from the Bottango team.
Evan and Torrey are doing amazing things with SendCutSend parts to further the world of STEAM education. Are you working on a project like theirs or have you already done some cool things with SendCutSend parts? We want to hear about it! Fill out a Partner With Us form today and we’ll be in contact.