CASPER, Wyo. — Casper police officer and 13-year military veteran Preston Atwood told Oil City he cut the prototype for his Raptor Adaptor on a CNC machine he purchased himself in his garage.
Atwood is one of six finalists this year competing for up to $50,000 in the sixth Casper Start-Up Challenge. The final pitch night is Tuesday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m.
The device is a forked PVC-infused thermoplastic (Kydex) adaptor that locks onto a belt at any predetermined angle for the attachment of MOLLE-equipped pouches. MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) refers mainly to the ladder-like weave of webbing on a vest, pack, or belt that attaches to pouches for carrying ammunition, medical supplies, or whatever a mission dictates.
Atwood said a lot of existing gear manufacturers are trying to increase adaptability in different ways, including belts with MOLLE stitching, “but, then again, you have to weave it back and forth, on and off, and it doesn’t allow you to alter [the orientation] of how it’s attached.”
The ideal angle for having pouches at the ready varies depending on whether the user is in a combat scenario, in a competition shoot, or in everyday law enforcement, Atwood said. The applications also extend to hunting and hiking, he noted.
Since last October, he says he’s put a couple hundred out, including to a member of the French Foreign Legion, fellow law enforcement and military personnel, and a field geologist, to market test.
Atwood said he still keeps a notebook in the field where he notes any equipment issues that may arise. His idea came after he found that pouches were getting stuck under his body armor: “The angles were goofy and I wished I could adjust things more.” He awoke one morning and set to work on the first prototype with a sheet of Kydex and heating gun. The current Raptor Adaptor is the 25th iteration of his idea.
He’s still cutting, heating, and folding the Kydex in his garage, and each unit takes about 20 minutes.
He isn’t aggressively marketing a the moment; current demand is already exceeding his manufacturing capabilities. With one CNC machine in his garage, Atwood said he’s looking to invest in a shop with a few more machines, more heating stations, and some employees.
“I don’t have an investor’s mindset: My goal here a typical American small business … a little manufacturing shop in Casper, with four CNC machines that can be cutting around the clock.”
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