Category Archive for "Manufacturing"

Three Common Product Development Myths

Product development is a fluid process that is not truly complete until there is a manufactured product in your hands. However, the process of taking a great idea and translating that idea into a physical product is not as predictable as you might think. Below are three common product development myths:

Myth 1: Product Development is Predictable

While the stages of the development process are the same for each product—concept, prototype, manufacturing and final product—and its overall progression is predictable; the length of time in each stage of the product development cycle may differ drastically for each product. The entire process has a certain volatility to it—a single manufacturing requirement can send you right back into the prototype design phase of development.

“In the world of manufacturing physical objects, tasks are repetitive, activities are reasonably predictable, and the items being created can be in only one place at a time. In product development many tasks are unique, project requirements constantly change, and the output—thanks, in part, to the widespread use of advanced computer-aided design and simulation and the incorporation of software in physical products—is information, which can reside in multiple places at the same time.” (Harvard Business Review)

Myth 2: A Finished Design is Ready for Production

Developing the tooling for a design that has not been tested beforehand is expensive and can be a potentially fatal mistake for a startup. If a flaw is found in your design after the tooling has been made, it is extremely costly and time-consuming to go back and try to fix the tooling—and in most cases, you will need to have new tooling designed.

Without proper testing and simulation, your design is not ready for production. Taking the time to test all aspects of your design will ultimately save you time and resources.

Myth 3: The More Features, The Better

It is a common belief that adding features creates value for customers and subtracting them destroys value. This attitude explains why even the simplest of products have become so inundated with unwanted features.

Startups and product designers that challenge this belief create products that are elegant in their simplicity. Designing for simplicity means that you must first understand two things—the problem you are solving and which features to hide or omit. “One company that has understood this is Apple. It is known for many things—innovative products, stylish designs, and savvy marketing—but perhaps its greatest strength is its ability to get to the heart of a problem.” (Harvard Business Review) By truly understanding the problem your customers are facing, your design can hone in on the perfect solution. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Have additional questions about the product development process or other product development myths? Contact us at


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What Your Future Manufacturing Partner Wants You To Know

August 24, 2016
3D Innovations

Manufacturing 3D PrintingWhen the time comes to manufacture your hardware product, having the right manufacturing partner on your team makes all the difference. Speed, accuracy, reliability and open communication are all characteristics to look for when picking a contract manufacturer (CM). Building a supply chain from scratch is challenging and many hardware startups falter during this early-stage, however with the right information your startup doesn’t have to be one of them.

Below are a few points that manufacturers want hardware entrepreneurs to know.
  1. Plan to visit the factory. Phone calls and emails are great, but nothing beats a face-to-face meeting to hammer out the details. You want to get your prototype in the hands of the people who are going to build your product and a visit to the factory lets you see how the manufacturer functions and lets you evaluate their methodology. Whether your factory is in Mexico, China or the United States a visit to the factory is vital to a successful collaboration.
  2. Be prepared to share everything. Whether you are asking for a quote or ready to start production, be prepared to share all the information you have about your product. The manufacturer is going to need CAD files, technical drawings, schematics, etc. Providing this information allows the CM to provide an accurate quote and/or production timeline.
  3. Give them a realistic assessment of production volumes. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to production volumes. Traditionally, startups need to start with small production runs and then scale up. You may find that some CMs would rather not work with your hardware startup because of the low production volume—if this is the case, it is better to know this at the beginning of your talk than weeks down the road. In other cases though, they may be willing to work with you on scope and budget because they understand the long-term potential you have as a client.
  4. Respect their knowledge. You manufacturer will be obligated to meet the requirements and specifications you set for your hardware product; however, they will also be able to provide valuable insight for your consideration. Manufacturers have extensive knowledge from years of experience and this can be a valuable asset to your business. Keep an open mind when they provide suggestions on how to simplify and improve difference aspects of your product.

Hardware product development is a lengthy process, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating. Taking the time to evaluate potential manufacturing partners before selecting one will save you headaches (and heartaches) later on.


3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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Why Does Design For Manufacturability Matter?

June 23, 2016
3D Innovations
What is Design for Manufacturability?

Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is the process of being proactive during the product design phase by considering the manufacturing stage of product development at the start of the design cycle. Early consideration of the manufacturing phase shortens product development time, minimizes development costs and ensures a smooth transition into production for quick time-to-market. Overall development costs are minimized when DFM is utilized because the product design, from the onset, aims to reduce the number of parts that need to be manufactured which speeds up assembly. The entire goal of DFM is to produce a product that is easily and economically manufactured.

Why is Design for Manufacturability Important?

When you are working towards commercialization of a product, the goal is to be efficient, minimize costs and get your product onto store shelves quickly—DFM works to do just this. With DFM you work out any potential issues before manufacturing planning which saves both time and resources.

At the heart of Design for Manufacturability is a group of design guidelines structured to help the designer reduce costs and manufacturing difficulty. The following is a brief list of these guidelines:

  • Reduce the number of total parts
  • Use of standard components
  • Design parts to be multi-functional
  • Design for ease of fabrication
  • Minimize assembly directions
  • Maximize compliance
The Importance of Strategic Product Development

Quality product development is a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Product design establishes product features, how it will work and overall reliability of the product. When the product development cycle is planned out and every stage is properly accounted for, a product is able to be successfully designed, manufactured and put into the hands of consumers at a much quicker rate.

Do you have additional questions about DFM or the manufacturing phase of the product development cycle? Let us help! Contact us by e-mail at info@3d-innovations.comor or by phone at 1-808-772-8667.

Works Referenced


3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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Manufacturing Facts Hardware Entrepreneurs Need To Know

June 15, 2016
3D Innovations

Developing a product is exhilarating, however when the time comes to start the manufacturing phase of the product development process, many entrepreneurs aren’t exactly sure where to begin. Below are some pieces of advice that every hardware startup should know about the manufacturing process.

mfg3Understand your cash flow.

Many startups are strapped for cash—especially during the early days—that is why understanding your company’s cash flow is crucial. Depending on your hardware product, you may be required to purchase certain components six months to a year before your launch. Work with your manufacturer to setup a realistic payment option that won’t leave your startup in the red.

Find an experienced manufacturer.

All manufacturers have experience, but your goal is to find a manufacturer that has experience building a product similar to yours. Chances are that if they have experience building a similar product, the number of challenges that arise will diminish. Also, ask to see product samples so that you can get a feel on the quality of work they produce.

If your goal is to manufacturer your product in the U.S., prepare to pay a little bit more. However, some entrepreneurs don’t mind paying more for the comfort of being able to visit the manufacturing facility on a regular basis. During the early production runs you are going to want to be on-site to talk with the engineers to make sure things are running smoothly.

Be prepared to compromise.

You might have visions of making your product from recycled materials, or certain sustainable materials, however, these may not be the best options for your product. Your product is going to need to meet certain thresholds and tolerances, which means that using the correct material is imperative. Be prepared to compromise on things such as materials, the manufacturing timeline and other variables that will undoubtedly arise.

Start with small production runs.

While you are putting final touches on the design and working out the “kinks”, it is a good idea to start with small production runs. The minimum (around 5,000 units) run will give you a chance to fix any issues that come up without experiencing potentially dire financial consequences.

If you are planning on running a crowdfunding campaign, a small production run might not be feasible if you have a wildly successful campaign. In that case, you can consider the option of running multiple manufacturing lines. While this can complicate the manufacturing process, it will help you stick to the timeline you laid out for customers. If you would rather stick with the small product run method, let your customers know that you plan on starting with small batches and scaling up gradually, which will mean a longer wait time—keep in mind that most customers are willing to wait when the startup is transparent about their timeline from the get-go.

Do you have additional questions about the manufacturing phase of the product development cycle? Let us help! Contact us by e-mail at info@3d-innovations.comor or by phone at 1-808-772-8667.


3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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Prototyping: Bringing Ideas Into Existence

November 19, 2015
3D Innovations

The startup community is flowing with fantastic ideas, but if you want investors to take your pitch serious then you need a prototype. Investors have figured out that asking for a functional prototype is one way to separate the ‘wannabe’ entrepreneurs from serious players. As the old adage goes, “talk is cheap”. Entrepreneurs who are prepared to show a prototype to investors, whether angel investors or a crowdfunding community, demonstrate that they know how to execute.

3D Printing Services | Rapid Prototyping Services | 3D-innovationsHaving a prototype shows that you have already tested the idea, worked out the design challenges and researched manufacturing partners. Completing all of this before seeking funding brings a new level of credibility to you and your startup.

If you find yourself sitting on the fence as to whether or not you should go ahead and develop that prototype, here are a few points to consider…

  • Show your commitment. Demonstrating that you are willing to move this product past the idea phase lets investors know that you are serious and should be taken seriously. The process of designing, building and validating a prototype does take time, but it also greatly reduces risks and challenges later on.
  • Test your idea in the real world. When your idea is brought to life, you are able to validate the idea and garner consumer feedback. Let potential customers get their hands on the prototype to test its functionality and decide whether it does in fact fit their needs. When you talk about your idea, each person imagines it in their own manner, but a functional prototype is a concrete way of bringing your idea into existence.
  • Implement design feedback without dire consequences. Make pre-production design changes without losing inventory. Nothing is worse than having inventory that you cannot sell. Investors and consumers will have design modification ideas, and testing them out with prototypes is much more cost effective.
  • Reduce costs and time-to-market. Time is money. Validating your design before it heads to manufacturing lets you get the product out of the door while staying on schedule. A three-dimensional prototype will also allow you to effectively negotiate contracts with manufacturers.

The benefits and advantages of a physical prototype should not be underestimated. Building a prototype will help you validate your product early-on and gain credibility.

 Do you have additional questions about the prototyping process? Please feel free to contact us at


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2015 Advanced Manufacturing Conference

October 23, 2015
3D Innovations

This week we were in attendance at the inaugural Advanced Manufacturing Conference here in Honolulu. The focus of this event was on advanced manufacturing technologies and companies that represent this growing industry. Below is a short summary of our experience at the conference with some of our thoughts on the subject sprinkled in.

Advanced manufacturing is reshaping the current manufacturing landscape. Industry leaders in Hawaii understand that major manufacturing shifts are taking place, and want to assist the local manufacturing community in harnessing and implementing these emerging technologies.

Focusing on Infrastructure

Currently the manufacturing community in Hawaii is still relatively small, but with a heightened focus on economic development, workforce development, energy infrastructure and policies there is significant growth potential. However, with growth comes challenges; high energy costs make it cost prohibitive to run power hungry equipment and without high-speed broadband manufacturing productivity is significantly hindered. These are certainly a couple issues that need to be addressed before Hawaii experiences a manufacturing “boom” per se.

Our local aerospace, aquaculture, astronomy, biomedical, robotics and scientific industries have a clear and defined path towards utilizing advanced manufacturing technologies. The internet of things (IoT), big data and additive manufacturing are just a few of the technologies that would not only increase efficiency for these businesses, but would enhance competitive advantages on a local, national and global scale as well.

Developing a Skilled Workforce

While we know that the manufacturing community here can grow, another major factor in that growth is workforce development. Access to skilled professionals is vital.

Supporting future workforce demands means that an increased focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, at all grade levels, is necessary. Fostering children’s innate curiosity and encouraging them to search and discover on their own, develops the necessary STEM centered mindset. Access to STEM resources and technology in the classroom will also provide invaluable hands-on experience that over time translates into a high-tech workforce.

Skilled STEM professionals will be require to support advanced manufacturing technologies such as Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), Product Lifecycle Management solutions (PLM), automation/programming, design, robotics, software, and maintenance support.

High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) has a plan to support and increase the human infrastructure by introducing a strategic plan called 80/80. This plan seeks to have 80,000 high technology jobs that pay $80,000+ per year by 2030.

Harnessing Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Technology

There is no doubt that additive manufacturing is synonymous with advanced manufacturing. Stratasys was in attendance and brought various samples of parts made with their wide array of additive manufacturing machines. With the continuous development of new materials and finishes, the application of 3D printing can continue its transition to additive manufacturing, and have a profound impact on product development, prototyping, and manufacturing sectors.

Businesses and leaders in Hawaii have the drive and desire to grow our local manufacturing and technology sectors. With continued support and focus on initiatives at all levels, these industries will not only grow but thrive, making Hawaii a technology and manufacturing hub.

We are eager to see what the future holds!


3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property

February 11, 2015
3D Innovations

The intellectual property of your business is a serious matter and must be protected. Product Design & Development (PD&D) recently shared an article, 5 Ways to Protect Intellectual Property, that provides helpful insight into the main topics that need to be covered in a strategic alliance agreement.

There are five topics that should be covered in any agreement where intellectual property is involved:

  1. ip-3d-printing-innovations-100Ownership of Intellectual Property: Frequently, one or more of the parties is bringing pre-existing intellectual property to the partnership. It is important to specifically identify and reserve its ownership within the contract.
  2. Licenses to Intellectual Property: Commercializing the new development will also require some cross-licensing of intellectual property rights and should cover both pre-existing and new intellectual property. These licenses need to be carefully tailored to the particular rights that the licensee needs.
  3. Responsibility for Obtaining and Maintaining Patents: Patents are an important part of intellectual property protection. Joint development agreements should include detailed provisions about which party will take the lead in obtaining and maintaining them.
  4. Responsibility for Prosecuting Infringers: It is often easier to agree to the allocation of responsibility and cooperation prior to an infringement, rather than after the infringement has occurred.
  5. Term and Termination: It is tricky to unwind a product collaboration if intellectual property is jointly owned. So careful thought during negotiations and drafting can prevent problems if the agreement terminates.

All strategic alliance agreements are unique in their own way but, when intellectual property is involved these five points are critical and should be included in the final agreement.

We invite you to read the full article on the PD&D website.

Below are a few additional articles that provide helpful intellectual property and patent information…

If you have additional intellectual property or patent questions please feel free to contact us at


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Turning Ideas into Prototypes

July 24, 2014

We recently came across a white paper by National Instruments titled, “Six Good Reasons to Prototype” and wanted to share it with you. Nothing is more exciting and exhilarating than coming up with a brilliant idea. However turning that idea into an actual product can be more challenging than you might expect.

3D CADThe journey from concept to market is typically a long road riddled with hidden obstacles and unforeseen turns. Building a quick prototype of a design can help smooth that path as well as present some other benefits.

Why Prototype?

1. Fail early and inexpensively – Real innovation always includes a risk of failure. Thomas Edison once joked, “We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb.” By building a prototype, you can quickly weed out the approaches that don’t work to focus on the ones that do.

2. Gather more accurate requirements – Almost half of all project costs are attributed to rework due to inadequate requirements. Traditional requirements gathering techniques such as interviews and focus groups can fall short because many people find it difficult to conceptualize a product before they see it. By developing a working prototype, you can demonstrate the functionality to help solidify requirements for the final design.

3. Technically understand the problem – It is unfortunate that system architecture must come so early in the design process because time only enhances your understanding of the problems that you may encounter. Have you ever thought, “If I could go back in time, I would change … ”? By developing a functional prototype, you are forced to address both the foreseen and the unforeseen technical challenges of a device’s design. Then, you can apply those solutions to a more elegant system design when you move to the final deployed solution.

4. Resolve conflicts – The best engineers have strong opinions about how a given feature should be implemented. Inevitably, differences of opinion result in conflicts, and these conflicts can be difficult to resolve because both sides have only opinions, experience, and conjecture to refer to as evidence. By taking advantage of a prototyping platform, you can quickly conduct several different implementations of the feature and benchmark the resulting performance to analyze the trade-offs of each approach. This can save time, but it also ensures that you make the correct design decisions.

5. Rally financial support – In the years since the dot-com bubble burst, investors such as venture capitalists have grown more risk-adverse when investing in start-ups. Even within larger companies, internal projects face similar scrutiny from executives looking to maximize revenue. By developing a prototype to demonstrate the feasibility of your idea, you lower the risk of investment and therefore increase the probability that your idea will be funded.

6. File patents more easily – Before 1880, all inventors had to present working models or prototypes of their inventions to the patent office as part of the patent application process. Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office uses the “first to invent rule,” which grants a patent to the first inventor who conceives and reduces the technology or invention to practice. Though no longer required, a prototype is still the best and safest way to demonstrate “reduction to practice.” Furthermore, key components of a patent application, such as patent drawings and the inventor’s logbook.

The full white paper is available on the National Instruments website.

If you would like more information about prototyping or have questions, please feel free to e-mail us at


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5 Tips on How to get a Product to Market

May 20, 2014

Five critical tips on how to successfully get a product to market…

  1. Define the requirements of your idea

Starting with a sketch of your idea and developing a flow chart of how you intend it to function is a good start. Don’t worry if you think your sketches are too rudimentary, we’ll fix it up for you. List all of the requirement you have including important specifications like size, weight, function, and any special functionality you want your device to have.

One important factor to consider early in the conceptual stage and something to ask yourself is: “what is the market for this product?”.  Conduct surveys, focus groups, and talk to potential end users prior to making any major commitments.  This feedback will give you a better sense of validating whether or not the product is marketable.  Crowdfunding sites such as KickStarter are a good way to validate the marketability of the idea.

  1. Generate a professional design

Once your sketch is outlined, the detailed design process can begin.  Often times the first steps in the design process will include creating Industrial Design sketches to refine the initial concept and provide a clearer design direction before any further work is completed.  This will give you a better understanding of what to expect from your 3D Design.  After selecting the sketch or sketches you like, those concepts will be developed into a working 3D design. This detailed design process will involve creating a design that is not only manufacturable, but one that includes all of the requirements and specifications that were discussed at the initial design stage.  This design is the first prototype, often referred to as a digital prototyping. This process is implemented to accelerate time to market.  Packaging of often integrated into this step.

  1. Create a prototype for testing

Once the design is finalized and approved, several iterations of prototypes are build to test the form, fit, and function of the design.  Having a physical prototype is more valuable and provides more benefit than just the digital design.  In most cases, several iterations of design and prototyping will be required to fine tune the design and function.  3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing is a quick and cost effective method to create functional prototypes.  Subtractive processes such and CNC machining are also an option.

  1. Validate the design

Test, retest, and more retesting.  Put the functional prototypes into hands of end users, potential buyer/distributors, and anyone who can give you critical non biased feedback.  This feedback should validate input provided in Step 1.

  1. Manufacturing

Production manufacturing will be one of the biggest leaps to finalize the product development process.  To produce the high quantities needed, tooling or molds will be required to manufacture the parts.  The molds are typically made from high grade Steel and are capable of producing hundreds of parts per hour with a lifetime quantity of 400,000+ parts.  The tooling will be an investment, but will allow you to cost effectively produce parts for the initial run and also for future orders.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or if you need a quote for your next project, click here.


3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

The New Face of U.S. Manufacturing

March 27, 2014

Manufacturing in the United States has gone through ebbs and flows over the years and emerging technology is now re-structuring our entire view on the future of the industry. Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the main technologies that is changing the face of manufacturing. This technology is allowing businesses to manufacture customized products in smaller quantities, and thus providing customers with a more personalized experience. Many business leaders believe that this type of manufacturing will lead the industry in the not-too-distant future.

What do you think the manufacturing industry will look like in 10, 20 or 50 years?

Entrepreneur recently published and article, Re-Making Manufacturing in the United States, in which they interviewed business leaders in a variety of fields about the future of manufacturing and the impact of additive manufacturing. Below are three excerpts that we found very interesting…

“There are parts of the manufacturing process that will be competitive in the U.S. again, but I think it requires a redefinition of what we assume to be manufacturing. I don’t think that the kind of manufacturing we do here will be the really dirty manufacturing with the smokestacks,” said Jessica Banks, the founder of RockPaperRobot, a kinetic furniture business, headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y. “It will be manufacturing based on a lot of prototyping, a lot of new manufacturing processes, and rapid prototyping processing. And it will really involve iteration.”

One of the reasons prototyping is becoming a more refined, sophisticated and immediate process is because of the development of 3-D printing technology.

New technologies, in addition to innovative ideas, have allowed for the increased sophistication in and acceleration of that first phase of the manufacturing process. For example, the advancement of 3-D printing technologies has allowed for constructions that were never before possible.


3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.