How it’s Made: The WalkTop Treadmill Desk
The WalkTop started out as a Do-it-Yourself project by the President of Fitneff, Ron Bettin. The problem he was trying to solve was a way to use his laptop while walking on his treadmill. Since he couldn’t find a suitable treadmill desk, he made one from wood and parts from the local hardware store. Although this was great for his treadmill, it would always be a one-of-a-kind!
When Ron, Laurel and Devon decided to create a desk that everyone could use on their treadmill, they agreed that the most important design factors would be: Functionality, Form and Simplicity.
Functionality: The WalkTop should have the capability to convert a majority of treadmills into functional walking desks.
Form: The WalkTop should look good on your treadmill. It should be something that you are proud to show to your friends.
Simplicity: No tools or assembly required. Simply remove from the box, place on the treadmill, adjust and use!
How did we achieve these high expectations in the design? By working with a skilled and imaginative product design company, Form3. After 8 months of intensive design work and demo testing, we achieved the basic design of the WalkTop Treadmill Desk that we have today. This patented design had to overcome many challenges of creating a universal appeal that met the criteria of functionality, form and simplicity.
A few of the things that we learned during the testing of the WalkTop prototypes include the following:
- Users preferred a clear desk top so that they could see through to the walking surface and any of the treadmill controls.
- The WalkTop had be easy to install and remove so that a treadmill could also be used for cardio running.
- The weight had to be less than 30 lbs so that the average person could lift it into place
- The surface had to be large enough to hold a laptop, mousepad and a notebook.
- The WalkTop had to be able to adapt to treadmill arms of various sizes and shapes, including arms on angles.
- The box had to fit in the back seat or trunk of a vehicle!
A big shout out to the team at Form3 for helping us to achieve a product that has received rave reviews from both experts and customers.
Deciding how to manufacture the WalkTop and get it to market as quickly as possible became a challenge. Although the WalkTop looks simple and elegant, it is really a complex mechanical design made from precisely manufactured pieces, including a unique extruded aluminum frame, injection molded parts and precision parts like gas springs. We are very proud that we have been able to source nearly all the parts for the WalkTop in North America!
When we set out to manufacture the WalkTop, several options were evaluated, including assembling in Asia or even doing it ourselves! We were so fortunate to establish a relationship with our plastic injection mold part supplier, Sle-Co. In addition to our product, Sle-Co assembles several other consumer products, which means that their assembly process and quality control meet regulatory and consumer requirements.
Some fun facts about the WalkTop Treadmill Desks include the following:
- There are 52 unique parts that are assembled together to create the WalkTop
- Aluminum is purchased in billets and over 11,000 lbs of raw aluminum is extruded through specially designed dies to make the ten different parts required to build 1,000 WalkTops.
- The two gas springs have unique specifications specifically designed to match the table top weight and locking functionality of the WalkTop. There are probably no other gas springs in the world with these specifications.
- In addition to assembling the WalkTops, Sle-Co also manufactures the precision plastic injection parts for baby car seats and automotive parts for most major car companies in North America.
- The metal parts in the WalkTop are laser cut for precision and quality.
- The high quality acrylic desk top is exactly 5.6 mm thick for maximum support without adding additional weight.
- Each WalkTop is tested for quality and functionality before it is packaged.
- The packaging design has been drop-tested at 10 ft. (not that we would recommended doing this!)
- To date, WalkTops have been shipped to customers all over the US and Canada, with some customers even purchasing their units and having them shipped to China and the UK!
As you can see, the simple and elegant design of the WalkTop takes a lot of work to achieve. The owner of an original WalkTop can be assured that they have the only treadmill desk that was designed to meet the high expectation of functionality, form and simplicity that the company founders envisioned.
From everyone involved in the design, manufacturing, assembly and shipping, we hope that you enjoy integrating movement into your life with the original WalkTop Treadmill Desk.