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Paintball Barrel

 
 
This project began as a class project for an MBA course entitled Product Development / Market to Concept.  We, the students of the class, were told that we would need to form teams and find a product that we would develop during the course or we would have one assigned to us.  Because I was anxious to be involved in a project that interested me and to work with competent teammates, I quickly formed a team and submitted a product idea.  To add some validity to my product idea I contacted Air Concepts Industries (no longer makes paintball equipment) in Ontario, CA and asked them to work as our mentor.  As a mentor they would be responsible for reviewing the documentation we generated as a team regarding the product under development.  Air Concepts Industries is a manufacturer and distributor of paintball equipment.
 
The design of paintball gun barrels has always been a hot topic in the paintball industry.  Within the past three years, many radically new types of barrels have come to market, each one with a promise of increased performance.  While many of these barrels deliver on their promises, one barrel has been of particular interest because of its ability to impart a back spin on each paintball that leaves the barrel.  This backspin creates Magnus Lift, counter acting the effects of gravity, increasing the range of each paintball.  Although this product (called the Flatline Barrel, manufactured by Tippmann Pneumatics), has its shortcomings, it has also found its place in a paintball market niche.  The Tippmann Flatline is pictured to the right.
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As can be seen above in the picture of the Tippmann Flatline, the Flatline barrel is curved.  The barrel begins just above the front handle of the gun, curves upward into a metal shroud, and protrudes out the front of the shroud.  The backspin is imparted on the ball through this curved barrel.  Because of the need for this shroud, the Tippmann Flatline is only compatible with Tippmann brand guns.  It was the goal of my design team to design a barrel that would impart backspin on a paintball but be compatible with almost all guns on the paintball market.  Although we were never able to make any prototypes to test actual performance, in theory our design was functional.  In addition, Air Concepts Industries was quite pleased with the design we developed.  Some sketches of our design can be seen below.  
 
Sketches of Paintball Barrel
 
The final documentation submitted by my team to ACI consisted of a complete concept generation, screening, and selection section as well as a business analysis for production, marketing and distribution.  The final design consisted of a five piece modular barrel.  Each module is depicted below.

The barrel functions simply by reducing the friction on the bottom of the paintball, causing it to spin backwards as it travels down the barrel.

 
Click on any of the thumb nails below for a larger view of the image.
         
Chamber Module:  This module screws directly into the paintball gun.  This module acts as the interface between the gun and the rest of the barrel system.   Body Module:  Once the chamber module is screwed in place, this module as attached and properly aligned using two set screws.  The barrel must be aligned so the rods are on the bottom of the barrel.
         
Rod Modules:  Two rods are slid into the rod slots on the body module.   Muzzle Module:  This module screws onto the external threads of the body module to hold the rods in place.