Roanoke Rapids, NC--The classic mechanic's creeper consists of a welded tubular frame, a plywood platform with casters and, perhaps, a padded headrest. When P & B Manufacturing Co. of Deptford, NJ decided to upgrade their creeper, they called on Flambeau Airmold.
The usual routine at Flambeau has been to design parts with 2-D CAD, then send the file to manufacturing to produce the tooling. But this job involved extremely tight time requirements. "This is one of the first projects we designed in 3-D and then went directly to CNC tapes," says industrial de-signer Christopher Ladewig. Total time from concept to prototypes on display amounted to about three months.
Emerging from the shortened design procedure is a mechanic's creeper aesthetically and functionally superior to the previous design. Blow molding permits more ergonomic flexibility than found in the plywood product. Extruded elliptical curves, rather than radii, fit the user's back and shoulders. A removable tool tray snaps onto either side of the molded creeper.
Molded in red, yellow, or blue high-density polyethylene, the creeper's typical wall thickness is about 3/16 inch. Because of the way the mold compresses the cylindrical parison, wall thickness around the unit's periphery becomes greater, which increases its stiffness. Conical depressions on the underside of the creeper weld the top and bottom surfaces together, further increasing overall stiffness.
P+B manufacturers a complete product line using the Flambeau design. Customers receive four different versions of the same molded creeper. The basic unit comes as-molded with no tool tray or padding. Version two includes the tool tray, and version three adds padding to make the mechanic's day less uncomfortable. Details molded into the head end of the creeper permit installation of an optional battery and work light for the deluxe unit.
Additional details, blow molding...Contact Alan Whitebread, Flambeau Commercial Markets Group, 100 Grace Dr., Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870, (919) 536-2171.
Additional details, creeper...Contact Mark S. Wellner, P&B Manufacturing Co., Box 5413, Deptford, NJ 08096, (609) 228-7677.