PDT an Astronics Company: Product Design and Development Firm in Chicago, IL
Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Focus Products Group (FPG) approached PDT with two objectives: to refresh and improve their existing Summer Ice Treats (SIT) line and to develop a new category of product that creates a finer ice shaving or snow texture, called Snoball, which only existed in the commercial space.

FPG Snoball Ice Machine

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Our team sought to uncover opportunities for improvement and innovation. We started by purchasing a commercial machine to understand how the process worked.  This machine was 33” long x 14” wide X 27.5” tall, with a price tag of about $1900. It was capable of shaving large ice blocks into snow that is akin to fresh snow in January.


We conducted ethnographic research with a number of adults and children who interacted with existing consumer machines and sampled the ice that resulted from the consumer machines as well as the large, industrial machine we purchased.


Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

We also benchmarked current store offerings for a range of shopping sites, and developed a category matrix, which gave an accurate positioning of FPG’s current offerings based on a number of product characteristics.


Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

The PDT creative team began to develop solutions with a range of forms and functions.

Developing Solutions

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

A number of concepts were refined to ultimately enable the FPG and PDT teams to analyze and choose the most appropriate final design direction.

Concept Refining

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

The main technical challenge was to get the same quality snow in a counter top product using standard ice cubes.

Technical Challenges

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

2 functional prototypes were made in our prototyping shop that used homemade ice, either from an ice maker or ice cube trays.


Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

While hard to duplicate the output of the large, pricey commercial machine, FPG’s new snoball machine is able to create finely shaved ice that is markedly better than any from their current line or from competitive products.

Competitive Product

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

The two new snoball models and the 2 nonfunctional appearance models were all shown at the 2014 housewares show in Chicago and have since been introduced in retail outlets nationwide.

Retail Success

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