Kimya and Cambox: the winning link-up of two French Techs

In 2011, when Jean-Marc Piednoir invented an onboard camera mounting able to be integrated into a helmet, he quickly began the search for a mold manufacturer to produce his plastic parts. But faced with the very high cost and lengthy delivery leadtimes, he abandoned his project. By pure chance, he came across a radio program talking about 3D printing and rapidly investigated the possibility of an additive manufacturing solution. He sent a 3D design of an initial part and received it back in record time and at low cost.

3D printing: boosting innovation

At the start, the inventor received 3D printed parts made from sintered powders. But, very quickly, the very high order quantity, surface defects, and color variations led him to invest in his own 3D printers. A fleet of 30 printers was finally established at a location near Nantes, in his company’s own premises based in Haute-Goulaine.

A 100% French partnership

During the health crisis, personnel at Kimya dedicated their time and resources to printing visors for medical staff and companies. It was at this time that Jean-Marc Piednoir found out that Kimya was designing and producing 3D filaments less than 10 miles from Cambox. Sensitive to the issues of “Made in France” and short supply chains, Cambox launched a feasibility study into the use of these new 3D materials. The first Camboxes made out of Kimya ABS-S filaments were therefore produced in September 2020.

cambox pilote

Quality, reliability and cost savings

“3D printing has the advantage of being able to produce-to-order and of continually having the ability to innovate. Depending on customer feedback or their various assembly constraints, the product design can be upgraded very quickly” Jean-Marc Piednoir, Founder of Cambox

Cambox requires a 3D material with a surface quality as high as thermoplastics with a mat black finish. It must also be able to bear the heat produced by the functioning camera. The right material was selected on the basis of the Kimya ABS-S, a standard ABS offering higher temperature resistance (around 90°C) than PLA and a sleek surface finish.

“With reels of 2.2 kilos (versus 750g previously with another supplier) we have been able to cut down our maintenance operations by two-thirds, leading to significant savings in labor costs. This type of processing also produces one-third the amount of waste, not to mention the savings in transport costs thanks to our proximity to Kimya”, Jean-Marc Piednoir, Founder of Cambox.

Cambox: a success story – French style

Jean-Marc Piednoir is an amateur horseback rider and wanted to prove to his friends just how athletically demanding the sport of equestrianism is. So one day he set off with a helmet-mounted camera. But he was very disappointed by the ergonomics of the product, its weight, and the possible risks in the event of a fall. Based on users’ actual actions and needs, he then created a new camera concept. Viewed from above, it looks like a boomerang and is placed under the visor or inside the helmet using a system made of Velcro. He presented his concept to the public at the international showjumping event in La Baule in 2013. Luca Moneta, a top Italian rider, agreed to trial the camera. Surprise: he finished 5th in the competition and the pictures he filmed using the Cambox were broadcast on Equidia TV! After this successful day, the product was very quickly launched on the market. The channels Equidia TV, the series The Big Bet (on the same channel with Tony Parker), and BBC France (on Top Gear France) made full use of this innovative onboard camera. The competition Porsche Carrera Cup France and the company Redbull US now also use Cambox to film exclusive images. In 2019, the company reached its first one million euros in sales with 3,000 Camboxes having been sold during that year, 30% of which in the US. But the story is just at its beginnings and a fundraising round is already being planned for 2022…