Group 7 - Kodak Disposable Camera

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Executive Summary


The product is a Kodak-made disposable camera. The camera is constructed of primarily injection molded ABS plastic components.

How It Works

The camera is comprised of three assemblies; the casing/frame, the actual camera mechanics, and the flash and corresponding circuit.

Operation is described from the "loaded" position, or one where all necessary provisions are made in order to take a picture with the depression of the shutter button. Once the shutter button is depressed, it makes contact with the shutter lever. This contact causes the shutter to cycle, or rotate about a pin on the center chassis, and quickly return to its initial position due to the force imparted by the shutter spring. This rapid movement of the shutter allows light from the desired image to pass through the lens and create an image on the film. At this point, the picture has been taken.

Here the camera must be reset to take the next picture. Once the shutter lever has been tripped, it also unlocks the lock on the film advancing reel. The operator must turn the winding wheel. The wheel turns, winding the film around the slotted film post. This advances the film to the next frame, as well as rotates the pictures remaining wheel. The wheel will turn until the shutter lever is reset, and then will stop, telling the user the camera is prepared to take the next shot.

Operating in parallel with the mechanical assembly is the flash assembly. It is a relatively simple circuit, comprised of the printed circuit board (PCB), flash, button, light emitting diode (LED), battery, resistor, and capacitor. When the button is depressed, the circuit is closed, and charge flows from the battery to the capacitor. When the capacitor is fully charged, the LED turns on, indicating the capacitor is charged to the operator. When the shutter button is depressed, the capacitor is discharged through the flash, illuminating the desired object. The button must be depressed once again to recharge the capacitor.

The last assembly, the casing/frame is purely physical. It is comprised of three parts, the central chassis, and front and back covers. The central chassis holds the mechanical parts in place, as well as the PCB. This chassis then snaps into the front and rear covers which protect the internal parts.


The table belows lists the parts of the disposable camera, the quantity present, the material they are made of, the manufacturing process required to produce it, and its function. Also included is an image of each part.

Table 3.1: Disposable Camera Parts List
Part # Part Name Qty Material Manufacturing Process Function Image
1 Back Cover 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Protects and houses the mechanical and chemical components of the camera.
2 Camshaft 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Allows parts to advance one cycle.
3 Film Advance Gear 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Allows user to advance film after a piture has been taken.
4 Film Advance Lock 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Ensures no more than one cycle is advanced.
5 Film Cartridge 1 Varied Varied Provides medium for capturing the image.
6 Sprocket 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Pulls film ahead as film advance wheel is turned.
7 Frame Counter 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Lets the user know how many pictures they have taken.
8 Front Cover 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Protects and houses the mechanical and chemical components of the camera.
9 Lens 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Focuses light on the film.
10 Central Chassis 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Holds components of camera in contact with each other.
11 Lens Holder 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Holds lens in place.
12 Actuating Button 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding User input. Actuates components for one picture.
13 Shutter 1 1040 Steel Stamping Opens to let light in for image capture.
14 Shutter Spring 1 1040 Steel Extrusion Pulls shutter into place.
15 Actuating Spring 1 1040 Steel Forming Provides force for one advancement.
16 Viewfinder 1 ABS Plastic Injection Molding Allows user to see image that will be captured.
17 Circuit Board 1 Electrical Components Varied Provides flash of light.

Three Dimensional Representation

Camshaft Sprocket Film Advance Lock Assembly


Disassembly is relatively simple. Thanks to the use of plastic tabs in place of traditional fasteners, the entire camera can be disassembled without the use of any tools, though a screwdriver and/or knife would aid greatly in the process. The following table outlines the general disassembly steps.

Table 4.1: Disassembly of a Disposable Camera
Step # Procedure Image
1 Pry open tabs on body;
separate covers.
2 Remove battery and circuit board.
*Note: Read warning at bottom of table first.
3 Remove film canister and sprocket.
4 Remove lens, lens holder, shutter spring, and shutter.
5 Remove viewfinder, frame counter, film
advance wheel, advance lock, camshaft,
and shutter spring.

CAUTION: If the capacitor on the circuit board is charged, it can shock the user. The shock is not fatal, but can be painful. Those with pace-makers should be exceptionally cautious. Discharge the capacitor by using a well insulated screwdriver to connect its terminals.


For assembly, follow disassembly steps in reverse order. Again no tools are required. The camera will function properly after being re-assembled, but a new film cartridge may be required, as the original may have been exposed and thus ruined during disassembly. Also care should be taken to properly align the correct number on the frames remaining counter wheel.

Suggested Improvements

A variety of improvements could be implimented.

Design Flaws and Corrections:

Film advance wheel is difficult to grasp and advance properly
Enlarge wheel

Assorted Improvements:

1. New Chassis
As a disposable camera, one of the key features is light weight. This weight can further be reduced by manufacuring the center chassis part from stamped sheet metal instead of injection molded ABS plastic. The resultant would be a thinner, lighter, and above all cheaper part. This removes both product weight and cost, making it a more attractive product to the consumer.
2. New Battery/Subcontracted Battery
As we disassembled the camera, we noticed the battery was a standard AA battery manufactured by Kodak. This could be greatly improved in two ways. As a standardized battery, it could be subcontracted to a battery manufacturer. A battery manufacturer could supply Kodak with the batteries at lower cost. The alternative would be to manufacture a smaller specialized battery, reducing size, weight and possibly cost.
3. Different Film
Though film is rapidly becoming obsolete, it gives reason to specialize the film produced for disposable cameras. If the film is primarily used for disposable cameras rather than a wide range of cameras, it should be specialized for its specific use. With limited research and development, a better film cartridge could be produced; one better than the venerable 35mm cartridge used in these models. The new film could be much smaller, reducing the overall size and weight of the camera. Another improvement would be a shift to higher resolution film, as high resolution has become a hot topic in the world of photography.
4. Smaller Casing
If the aforementioned changes are incorporated, the resulting camera components would be much smaller. With smaller parts, there is no reason for the camera casing to remain as large as it is, it could then be shrunk to a suitable size. This reduction in size would, much like other redesigned components reduce weight and cost.


The resulting product of the improvements would have an advantage on several levels. The large advancement wheel improves ergonomics. The variety of component modifications yields a lighter, cheaper product. As a disposable camera, its allure is derived from its low cost, and ability to be easily carried anywhere. With these modifications the camera is lighter, cheaper and smaller, a distinct improvement over the current configuration.