It used to take months. Now it takes seven hours.
Coastal Source, headquartered in Marathon, makes use of a professional 3D printer to develop new products such as lighting and stereo speakers. On Dec. 7, the 4-foot by 2-foot by 2-foot 3D machine painstakingly printed — layer by layer — the housing for a new light. The machine is fed from a reel of raw material plastic that looks like wire.
“Being able to see and hear speeds up the process of developing a prototype,” said Franco D’Ascanio Senior. “Even though we sketch these out on paper, and then transform them into CAD drawings, the size and function can still be a surprise.”
For example, it helps to have a physical object to examine to determine whether or not apertures are large enough or too large for wiring. Or whether it’s the right proportional size to accommodate the LED lighting.
“Before, we would design a prototype and send it off to a manufacturer to replicate in cheap metal. Then we would wait one to two months to receive it, tweak the design again, and then wait another two months,” said Sean Snowden, an industrial engineer. “It could take up to a year to develop a product before it was ready for production in long-lasting materials.”
Coastal Source is D’Ascanio’s baby. The company was imagined in the early 2000s. By 2010, it had production facilities and a product line, starting with outdoor speakers. In 2020, the company has 1,000 dealers all across the U.S. handling high-end installations of lighting and speakers at elegant, (mostly) waterfront residences as well as commercial projects such as “a large theme park in Central Florida.”
The company’s genesis is creating products that can stand up to — or as the company’s tag line says, “defy” — the elements. While living in paradise is easy, the climate is not so kind to outdoor accessories. Coastal Source replaces those shabby outdoor lights, with peeling veneers, with something that is sleek and virtually indestructible. Much of the development and testing is performed in the Keys, although there’s another facility in northern climes that researches the stresses of cold weather on its products, too. The Marathon location of Coastal Source has five employees, while the New Jersey manufacturing plant has 30.
Ashley Pritchett collects the data from the Coastal Source product testing and distills it to manageable bites to be shared with the team and dealers. She also researches the market and reports back.
Coastal Source sound systems have an ingenious plug-and-play cable system that is compatible with the outdoor applications (sealing out rain and dirt), but also makes it easy to expand the number of speakers, for example, without rewiring the entire ensemble.
Joe Stayduhar works on the sound side of the business.
“We test these speakers outdoors so that we can get a true reading of how they will sound on a patio. It just doesn’t sound the same indoors.”
What’s next for Coastal Source? Well, not to make it sound too sci-fi, it could be about “controlling the weather.”
“It’s wonderful to have an outdoor speaker system, but if it’s too hot you’re going to turn on the sound system in your living room,” said D’Ascanio. “So, I think some type of climate control will be our next area of interest.”
D’Ascanio is proud of the company’s domination of the niche market and the R&D done in the Keys.
“We’re able to leverage our love of living here with the demand of a large market for our products,” he said.
More information about Coastal Source is at www.coastalsource.com.