... Read more →
Global Engineer Day (April 3rd) was celebrated this past week—engineers from across the globe shared projects they have worked on and gave insight into the lives of professional engineers. This upcoming week it is “Hawaii World of Work Week”, our President & Chief 3D Officer, Collin Kobayashi, will be talking to students (Grades 6-12) about what it means to be a Product Development professional. These two events have us thinking about the engineering profession, the current skills gap and how we can help motivate students to get excited about the engineering field. We have been looking at past blog posts and thought that it would be a good idea to compile a list of some of our most popular STEM education posts for you.
While the focus is on educating students around the four subjects—science, technology, engineering and math—the true value of these subject areas goes far beyond an engineering career or science major. STEM education provides a solid foundation for entrepreneurship.
Where once lectures and standardized tests were the main ways to teach and test STEM knowledge, today’s teachers understand that there are better, more hands-on methods, of educating students around STEM subjects.
The way STEM education is being taught has fundamentally shifted and this change will no doubt have a major impact on our future generation of STEM professionals and business leaders.
As the cost of 3D printers has dropped significantly in recent years, more schools are able to adopt and incorporate the technology into the curriculum. 3D printing technology promotes active learning and has the power to open a world of career possibilities to students. 3D printing inspires creativity and can help encourage students to explore a career in engineering or science.
It turns out that summer is a perfect time to introduce your child to the fun side of STEM subjects. In the summer months, students have more time to focus on what really interests them. They can dig deeper into subject matter, which helps them not only grasp concepts better, but gives them a better understanding of the world around them.
Developing a curriculum that gets students fired up about engineering can be a challenge. Our 3D Academy is your STEM education partner. We specialize in developing and integrating industry technologies with STEM education and can build custom programs for your classroom or school. We understand that closing the STEM education skills gap takes effort from both academia and professionals in the field, and we are happy to work with schools to bring hands-on and project-based opportunities to students.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
When it comes to marketing your new hardware product, our best piece of advice is to start early. If you wait until your product is being manufactured, you are late to the game. Starting early, means that marketing and product testing often go hand-in-hand. You will simultaneously be able to gather feedback on your new hardware product, while also making your target market aware that it will be available to them soon.
While a minimum viable product (MVP) will allow you to talk about features and show aesthetics, a functional prototype will clearly convey what your product is all about. Once you have a prototype, you then want to get it to the hands of your target market.
A focus group will let you gauge reactions and gather feedback about your hardware product. You can ask this group questions, they can share their initial reactions and then you can go back and apply any changes.
It can be hard hearing that your product isn’t perfect, but that is the beauty of feedback. With feedback early on, you can modify your design so that it better suits the needs of your target demographic. Ultimately, you want to build a product that is going to sell.
Provide your product to a small test market to have them try your product in their daily lives. Follow this up with questions/interviews to gather feedback on how your product fares.
Crowdfunding has made this very popular, but you don’t need to have a crowdfunding campaign to start taking pre-order sales. Setup an area on your website for pre-orders to see how the market is reacting to your new hardware product.
As you can see, marketing and product testing are closely related early-on in product development. While marketing looks different when you start early, it is effective at building a group of loyal followers. The people that you have testing your product, providing feedback and taking pre-order sales—are going to not only be your first customers, but they are going to want to share your product with their network.
Have additional questions about product development? We are happy to help. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
There are some great STEM events coming up around Honolulu. Our 3D Academy and 3D Innovations team has had the pleasure of participating in these STEM education events and know what a great opportunity they are for students interested in STEM subjects.
Students will get a first-hand look at career options in STEM fields. Professionals will talk about their area of expertise and how they chose their careers. Learn more about ‘Hawaii World of Work Week’ here.
The 10th annual Hawaii STEM Conference is quickly approaching. This is a two-day conference that allows both students and teachers to immerse themselves in STEM education. Breakout sessions let students connect with industry professionals in STEM areas that really interest them. It is a hands-on conference that brings academia and industry together. Learn more about the ‘Hawaii STEM Conference’ here.
The Honolulu Mini Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these “makers” to show hobbies, experiments, projects.
“We call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Glimpse the future and get inspired!” Learn more about the ‘Honolulu Mini Maker Fair’ here.
You don’t need a background in science, technology, engineering and math to participate in these STEM events. If you are curious and want to see what STEM education is all about, we highly recommend checking these events out.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
3D Academy, a division of 3D Innovations, specializes in developing and integrating industry technologies with STEM education and custom programs. 3D Academy promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education programs that integrate 3D Technology into K–12, as well as university classrooms.
Using hands-on and project-based learning strategies, we have been effective in providing students with opportunities to excel in the areas of STEM and to integrate industry applications into their learning experiences.
3D Academy has a range of programs that seamlessly transition into the classroom to expand and broaden students’ coursework. We provide an introduction to a range of engineering subjects—3D Printing, Robotics, Digital Media and Drones, just to name a few. The 3D Academy team works closely with teachers to create a custom curriculum that most benefits their students.
In partnership with HI FusionEd, Office of Naval Research (ONR), and Navatek, VPerch was created to provide students with the opportunity to learn about various STEM applications as they relate to underwater robotics. The emphasis of VPerch is to introduce students to engineering design through the virtual design (3D CAD) process where they can design and simulate (virtually test) their design and analyze the results before building the physical system. Using the virtual design and simulation process, students see first-hand how their design will perform under certain conditions. Once their virtual design is completed and have enough confidence that it will perform as designed, they migrate to the build phase where they can build their ROV based on their virtual design specifications.
Throughout the duration of the project, students will learn about robotics, marine engineering concepts, and science/math applications to build an underwater ROV while integrating problem solving, teamwork, and technical skills.
3D Academy STEM enrichment camps are a great introduction to STEM education. No prior engineering classes or skills are required to attend a camp. We start with the fundamentals and help students build upon those. [Note: Our STEM Enrichment Camps align with the Hawaii Public School calendar and occur during school breaks (i.e. Winter, Spring and Summer break).]
If you are interested in learning more about our 3D Academy, please send us an email at email@example.com so that we can talk about your specific STEM education needs and what type of program will work best for your students.
The key to a successful product launch and sustainable business success, is knowing the market segment you are launching your product into. An understanding of the market will provide insight into the competition, best distribution methods, customer acquisition and manufacturing methodology. According to the popular book, “The Startup Owner’s Manual” there are three types of markets.
Entering an established market means that the competition is strong. Often the best way for a hardware startup to make a splash in this market segment is by offering a premium product. “Companies succeed by building premium brands, having sustainably better technology, or being close to their costs of production. The headphone market is a great example here: Think Beats (premium brand) vs. Bose (better tech) vs AmazonBasics (closest to costs of production).” (Bolt)
Some of the most creative products of today started in a completely new market—think Apple iPod & iPhone. While competition is low, failure rate is high. When you are the first in a new market segment you have to pioneer new distribution channels, find your customer base, work hard to establish product/market fit and educate the market. According to “The Startup Owner’s Manual”, startups in this market won’t spend heavily on marketing and sales since you are not yet sure that a customer base exists yet.
You hear the term “pivot” quite a bit regarding startups, and that is what many startups find themselves doing when entering a completely new market. Your product is very likely to change to meet consumer demands.
This is the most common market segment for startups to launch a product into. Your product will either re-segment via low cost or re-segment via niche. If you are aiming for low-cost you have a product that has less frills yet still adequately meets customer demands but at a lower price point. “In other hardware markets, startups work in product categories that users already understand, but focus on a niche that really appeals to a small subset of users.” (Bolt) With a niche product, you are aiming to launch a product that is intriguing enough for brand loyalists to switch over to your product.
When it comes to the re-segmented market, you do not have to completely educate the market since your competition has spent time doing that. However, you do have to adequately educate them as to why your product is not only different, but why they need it.
Startups that have a clear idea on the type of market segment they are entering will be in a better position when it comes time to launch their product.
Market validation is the process of determining whether your product idea is of interest to a given target market. Before you invest the time and money into developing your product, it is recommended that you validate with your target audience that this is a product that they not only like, but will buy.
Below are three ways to quickly complete the first phases of market validation to test your new product idea:
Successful competitors offer proof that demand exists. While it can often be daunting to first-time entrepreneurs, competitors validate that there is a market for your product.
When you are the first to market, you are faced with the challenge of not only selling your product, but educating your target market about the major problem as well. Established competitors have already educated the market and conducted market validation, now you get to come in and offer a new solution.
You can offer the product in a new location, market it to a new group of people, or differentiate based on features or price to carve out market share. (Entrepreneurs Handbook).
While your friends and family might find your idea cool, are they your target market? Will they be making a purchasing decision for your product? If the answer is “no” you need to reach out to your actual target market—the people you want to buy your product.
If your product is challenging to explain in a clear and concise manner, a visual prototype can really help you convey your idea. Depending on the size of your product, 3D printing technology allows you to design and print a visual prototype quickly.
The feedback from your target market is going to help you build the product customers will buy, so the design of your product will most likely change a bit to accommodate customer needs.
Google is a powerful tool and can give you a glimpse into the collective mindset of your target audience. See how frequently people are searching for the product solution you want to launch.
It will be up to you to interpret the data, but this market validation strategy is a way to see what people are looking for and the words they use to describe it.
Due diligence is crucial in entrepreneurship because it helps you avoid losing time, money, relationship capital, and confidence on a bad idea. (Entrepreneurs Handbook). These three tests are a quick way to start the market validation process, test your idea and ultimately help your startup succeed quickly.
Do you have additional product development questions? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a technology that has expanded product design possibilities and manufacturing capabilities. While 3D printing can certainly help as you work your way through the product development process, it also has its limitations. Below are a few factors to help you determine if 3D printing is a good fit for your next project.
3D printing is an excellent option for initial prototypes. You can get a physical prototype in hours, refine the design and print again. It will take a few iterations to get it just how you are imagining it. Startups all over the globe are now turning towards additive manufacturing technology at various stages of product development—low cost and quick turnaround times make it ideal for budget conscious hardware startups.
Eventually you will want to build a functional prototype for design validation and testing, and additive manufacturing can help with this as well.
One of the primary advantages of 3D printing is that you can break traditional manufacturing barriers with your product design. With 3D printing technology, complex geometries, internal features and built-in interlocking objects with no assembly required are all possible. With these additional design capabilities, additive manufacturing creates new product design opportunities.
Gathering customer feedback during the product development process is always a good idea. Show potential customers your product design, let them hold it, test it and then incorporate their feedback. Remember that the feedback is going to help you build the product customers want, so the design will most likely change a bit to accommodate customer needs. Additive manufacturing allows you to quickly print a visual prototype that you can show to your target market for feedback. You can quickly incorporate their feedback and print another prototype.
3D printing isn’t quite at the mass manufacturing scale yet, but it can certainly help with small batch manufacturing. If you need just a few parts or pieces for a project, 3D printing can certainly be of assistance.
Customization is the “sweet spot” for additive manufacturing. The automobile, aerospace and dental industries have been utilizing 3D printing’s customization ability for years now. If you need a one-off customized part, 3D printing will most likely provide you with the quickest turnaround and best cost efficiency—depending on size of course.
Additive manufacturing is constantly evolving and so are its capabilities. As design software advances and material selection increases, 3D printing will continue to shift the manufacturing landscape and prove that it is a very useful tool for professionals and makers alike.
Are you still not sure if 3D printing is right for your project? Go ahead and send us an email, email@example.com so we can talk further about your design and manufacturing needs.
Patent protection is critical for startups today—technology and globalization have made it easier than ever to find, steal and patent invention ideas. Patents provide you with a way to protect your invention from other individuals that may want to commercialize it without your authorization. From the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):
“A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.”
“The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or ‘importing’ the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.”
Make: Magazine recently published an article, “Patent Pandas: How One Maker Is Turning Her Horrible Experience Into a Force for Good”. It is a real and very telling story of how a person, actually a crowdfunding backer, stole an idea from a crowdfunding website and later tried to sell the invalid patent back to the original inventor. Unfortunately, stealing and patenting ideas that are not your own has become big business.
Patent law is complicated, and it is always best to consult with an attorney. However, we have compiled a list of resources below to get you started as you begin looking into the process of patent protection.
I never thought about patents much. I just wanted to make stuff and share it with others. Then one day someone else patented my work. So what happened? And what did I learn? Well, first off, don’t panic!
Some people confuse patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Although there may be some similarities among these kinds of intellectual property protection, they are different and serve different purposes.
Patents are a critical factor for sustainable success. Whether you are at the helm of a startup that plans on crowdfunding a product or a SME working on a new and innovative technology, securing and protecting your intellectual property (IP) rights to that invention is key to successful commercialization.
This website is managed by Gene Quinn, a patent attorney with decades of experience. The articles on the website touch on a number of patent issues and provide in-depth education opportunities.
Most hardware startups find themselves thinking about intellectual property early-on and wondering if it is truly necessary for their invention. If you are planning to manufacture your product abroad, considering a crowdfunding campaign, wanting to speak with potential investors or find yourself constantly worrying about someone copying your invention, then meeting with a patent attorney is a great idea. In many cases, having a design or utility patent will be beneficial for your startup in the long-run.
Our team works closely with the Hawaii State Bar Association and understands the importance of patent protection for startups. If you have a question related to patent protection, we are happy to help. Please send us an email with your questions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Intellectual Property Articles from 3D Innovations
There has been a lot of talk recently about STEM education—both at the industry level and the government level. Companies are now working with schools to provide technology collaboration to help prepare students for 21st century jobs. While the focus is on educating students around the four subjects—science, technology, engineering and math—the true value of these subject areas goes far beyond an engineering career or science major. STEM education provides a solid foundation for entrepreneurship.
“It’s clear that curiosity, creativity and innovation lead to a deeper exploration of entrepreneurship.” (Entrepreneur)
Testing a hypothesis is a major part of STEM education. A reoccurring question at every stage of a science experiment or design challenge is, “Why?”
Answering the simple “why” question gets students thinking about possibilities. It is amazing how one word can take a student beyond a traditional way of thinking and get them exploring alternatives.
Entrepreneurs face this same question everyday as well and are required to think out-of-the-box. Critical thinking skills are key—and one might even say, mandatory—when it comes to starting a business.
Whether you are an entrepreneur designing the latest tech gadget or a new restaurant concept—innovative solutions drive your business. Problem solving skills are the very foundation of STEM education and teaching this valuable life skill translates both to college and beyond—no matter the career field entered. Having the ability to stop, assess, analyze, hypothesize and solve a problem is a skill every individual needs at every age level.
When we have the correct answer to a problem, we want to share it. It doesn’t matter if we are the first to figure out a challenging math equation or the first to design the iPod, we have an answer to a problem and want to share it.
A quick glance inside of a STEM focused classroom will show a range of design possibilities to the same question posed by the teacher. Students love to think critically and use their creativity—much like entrepreneurs. Getting hands-on and designing a solution is what entrepreneurs do best.
STEM education is more than four subjects, it’s a mindset. The skills taught in STEM classes can be used in any career field—especially, entrepreneurship.
Have questions about the way our 3D Academy program can complement your areas of study in the classroom? Send us an email at email@example.com
When you are ready to take your prototype and turn it into a real-world product, be sure that your 3D design files are also ready to go. A CAD file is either a digital 2D or 3D model of your product. When you start reaching out to manufacturers, most of the time they will ask to see your 3D design before moving forward with a manufacturing consultation and quote. “Without some idea of size, number of cavities, complexity, shape, and design, a manufacturer cannot accurately advise on the manufacturability of your product or help you choose the right materials and color.” (Extreme Molding)
Making sure that the manufacturer has the most detailed information possible about your product helps ensure that you are receiving an accurate quote and that there are fewer potential manufacturing issues down the road.
“Not only does a CAD file help save time when figuring out all the finer details of a part by looking at the 3D model, but it also allows a model to be magnified and even rotate on any axis to get a full three-dimensional concept of the part, which allows the manufacturer a greater sense of the product. It can even reveal internal features of a part if it cannot be seen clearly on a manufacturing drawing. Aside from these benefits, using CAD makes it possible to simulate the movement of a part through production processes.” (Vista Industrial)
“CAD files enables the manufacturer to check tool paths before any material is cut. The ability to run a simulation and so verify the complete machining process in a virtual environment is critical for keeping waste and scrap to a minimum. This may be crucial on some jobs, such as those using expensive alloys, large material-intensive components, or for those with complex geometry. Other verification advantages that result from less scrap include less energy consumption and reduced tool wear.
CAD simulations also enable you and the manufacturer to identify how long the production run time will take. Clearly this is useful for scheduling, as well as the planning of throughput, material supply and delivery. As the 3D model is the source of the manufacturing data, the design intent is preserved, and the dimensional accuracy is retained.” (Advice Manufacturing)
If your product design needs to be adjusted to meet design or manufacturing needs, this can easily be accomplished within a digital CAD file. Since the CAD files are transferred electronically, you are assured that both you, your product design team and the manufacturer all have the same information moving forward.
“CAD systems also facilitate communication among those involved in design, manufacturing, and other processes. This is of particular importance when one firm contracts another to either design or produce a component.” (Inc.)
In today’s manufacturing environment, CAD files are a necessity. A 3D design allows you to evaluate the form, fit, and functionality of your product. The design will also verify tolerance, loads, stresses and optimize manufacturability. If you plan on filing for IP rights or patent protection, a CAD file will help clearly communicate the design to your attorney and those reviewing your patent application.
Have additional product development questions? Please send them our way, firstname.lastname@example.org