3D design and 3D models are critical for efficient manufacturing.

The Importance of 3D Design for (Efficient) Manufacturing

3D design and 3D models are critical for efficient manufacturing.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)

3D Design Saves Time

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)

3D Design Reduces Material Waste

“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)

3D Design Allows for Ongoing Communication

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, info@3d-innovations.com

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Developing a product development strategy is key to startup success.

Product Development Strategy: Launching Your Idea

Developing a product development strategy is key to startup success.Did your 2019 resolution focus on product development and launching a business? The New York Post published a piece that says New Year’s resolutions, on average, don’t even last two weeks—that’s right, January 12th is the fateful day for many resolutions. Resolutions are hard—changing your behavior, mindset and shifting your focus can be extremely stressful if you jump in and do it all at once. We recommend starting slow, so that you aren’t overwhelmed, and building a support system to help encourage you and keep you focused. If you plan on starting a business in 2019, below are actionable items to keep you on track so that your resolution is successful.

The First Steps of Your Product Development Strategy
Write Your Goal Down

Write your goal down in one or two sentences. Keep it short and concise. Then post your goal somewhere where you will see it every day—whether it is at your office, your bathroom mirror, or as a reminder on your phone. Having it around will be a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish this year.

Find a Mentor

Business mentors are a great resource. You can bounce your product development strategy ideas off them and ask for advice when faced with obstacles. It will be even better if you can schedule a monthly meeting with your mentor to help keep you on track and pushing forward. Having a measurable goal and/or accomplishing a task before your next meeting will keep your startup moving ahead.

Start a Business Plan

There are many great business plan outlines online. Find one that fits your specific startup and start filling it out. Get all of your ideas, goals and ambitions out there on paper. You will see your plan start to solidify, and the plan will show you your strengths as well as your areas of weakness. Keep in mind that entrepreneurs aren’t great at every single aspect of business—and asking for help is normal, and extremely beneficial.

“Two founders, rather than one, significantly increases your odds of success. You will raise 30% more investment, grow your customers 3 times as fast, and will be less likely to scale too fast.” (Inc.: 5 of the Most Surprising Statistics About Startups)

Build a Prototype

By now you have an idea, you have probably sketched the product design out a few times, possibly built a rough version out of items around your home and you are ready to get going on an actual prototype. Great!

Depending on your product, 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 imaging it. Startups all over the globe are now turning towards 3D printing 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, especially if you are going to move on to patent protection.

Gather Feedback

Take your prototype and start talking to friends, family and people you know to gather their thoughts on your product. In your business plan, you have outlined your target market, so try to find people that fit in this category. 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.

Here at 3D Innovations, no matter the stage of your business, we can help you meet your goals. Our team has a proven track record in all areas of product development and we work side-by-side with you throughout the entire design and manufacturing process. Peek at the Case Studies section of our website to see a few examples of the startups we have previously partnered with, and how they leveraged our design and manufacturing expertise to reduce time to market.

Have additional product development questions? Please send us an email at info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Academy is reimaging STEM education.

The Changing Landscape of STEM Education

3D Academy is reimaging STEM education.Within the last five to ten years there has been a visible shift in the way teachers approach, introduce and incorporate STEM education into their classrooms. Technological advancements coupled with vocal industry proponents, have successfully transformed the way STEM education is taught. This is great news, because the long-term benefits of STEM education are profound on students’ future career success—whether in a STEM field, or not.

Reimaging STEM Education

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.

3D Printing

For instance, 3D printing technology has revolutionized classrooms, schools and makerspaces around the world. 3D printing makes learning fun and engaging. Students can now move away from books and lectures and actually design and print the subject they are learning about. Learning about ancient Egypt? Design and print a model of a mummy.

3D Modeling

Let’s take a quick step back, and before you even get to the 3D printing phase, a CAD model must be designed. This is just another way in which students get to test ideas, theories and use their critical thinking skills. Here at 3D Academy, we have seen a real shift and educators are more interested than ever in introducing students to 3D modeling programs because they understand the long-term benefits of this skill set.

Drones

Drones are taking off, literally and figuratively, in the classroom. This is another area that draws awe from students and they have proved a great way to provide hands-on learning. Whether students are working together to design an actual drone, a replacement part for one or understanding the ways in which this technology can be used in different industries—it has successfully captured the attention and imagination of students.

“Engineers will address the complex societal challenges of the 21st century by building a new generation of machines, materials, and systems. We should fundamentally rethink how we educate engineers for this future,” says Ed Crawley, the Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.

STEM Education Teaches Life Skills
Teamwork and Collaboration

Working as part of a team starts from a young age and continues on into the workplace. Learning how to collaborate and work together is a necessity. Teamwork helps students learn about different perspectives, respecting other ideas and coming up with a solution together.

Problem Solving Skills

Hands-on lessons for STEM subjects often revolve around solving real world problems. Students must assess a situation and develop a solution. Problem solving skills are immensely beneficial both inside and outside of the classroom. Having the ability to stop, assess, analyze, hypothesize and solve a problem is a skill every individual needs at every age level.

Innovative Thinking

We are all aware of the benefits of “thinking outside the box”, however, this does not always come naturally. Learning to ask questions and develop diverse solutions helps to instill an inquisitive mindset.

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.

Have questions about the way our 3D Academy program can complement your areas of study in the classroom?  Send us an email at info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Innovations is a leader in product development.

Top 3D Innovations Blog Posts of 2018

3D Innovations is a leader in product development.To close out the year, we are sharing the top four 3D Innovations blog post of 2018. This past year, our readers were particularly interested in 3D printing technology, how to get your product idea off the ground, product development as well as STEM education.

Get Your Product Idea Off the Ground

Coming up with a product idea is exhilarating—knowing that you have an idea that will help not only yourself, but an entire segment of the population, is the very definition of exciting. So now you have an idea, but you aren’t exactly sure what to do next. Here we have gathered helpful advice and insight into the next stages of your product development journey.

The Benefits of Using 3D Printing Technology in Education

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.

What to Expect from Your First Product Development Meeting

Many first-time entrepreneurs want to jump right in and get to work building their product, only to realize that they may not have the exact skillset necessary to develop the product all the way. This is where a product development firm is brought in to aid in the process. It can be nerve-wracking sharing your idea with someone else, and we all like to have a general idea of what we can expect in initial meetings.

Building A Hardware Startup Outside of a Major Tech Hub

We are going to start off with the good news, building a hardware startup outside of a major hub (i.e. Silicon Valley, Boston, L.A.) is possible. In fact, in today’s connected world, these major tech hubs are becoming less and less appealing for entrepreneurs just setting out with their startup. It’s no secret that the cost of living in major tech hubs is astronomical and upfront costs to get your business going also come at a premium. So if you are an entrepreneur looking to launch a product and start a business, but have no desire to pick-up and move, here are a few ideas on how you can successfully launch your hardware startup from your home city.

This past year was fantastic as we helped a number of startups launch their idea and assisted others with various product development and manufacturing solutions. We can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!

Cheers!

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Developing a product development strategy is key to startup success.

How Hardware Startups Succeed—Planning & Research

Hardware startups succeed with proper planning and research.The month of December is often a quiet time for businesses, and yes, even hardware startups. Right now, businesses everywhere are working to close out 2018, finalizing budgets and forecasts for 2019 as well as taking time off to enjoy the holidays. Your emails are going to receive a higher than average, “Out of Office” reply and your voicemail messages will take a bit longer to be responded to—it’s the December lull. The next two weeks tend to be quiet, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make this time useful. Below are four ways hardware startups can use holiday “downtime” to their advantage.

Develop a Product Requirements Document

If you are just getting off the ground, you are going to need to start this. However, if your hardware startup is up and going, you will want to refine this. Either way, a Product Requirements Document (PRD), is good for business. According to Bolt VC, a PRD adds a tons of value in a few strategic areas: aligning your team, seeing around corners and constraining the design.

Professional Tip: Don’t let your PRD become too cumbersome, the documents that are short and direct are often the most beneficial.

Design a Marketing Plan

Products don’t sell themselves. Maybe you had some buzz around your crowdfunding campaign, you beat your funding goal and now you believe that your product will be flying off shelves—wrong. You need a marketing strategy. Whether you are a one-man operation or there are a handful of people working on your startup—your hardware startup needs a go-to market strategy. Top hardware startups have a solid marketing strategy that is easily communicated.

Professional Tip: This Forbes Marketing Plan template is an oldie but goodie. It has amassed almost four million views since 2013. It’s a clear marketing roadmap that helps you sculpt a true vision of where you see your business going.

Research Partnerships

Product development, manufacturing, distributors, retail, channel partners—all of these need to be thoroughly researched and vetted. Take these next two weeks of December to look into potential partnerships and ideal partners. Learn all you can about them, write questions down, research their past and current clients, try to schedule a meeting—all of this research and face-time will payoff.

Here are a few good business articles to consider:

Asses Past Goals & Make New Ones

Millions of people now are actively making their goals for the New Year—your hardware startup should be doing the same. Top hardware startups take time to define measurable goals. Take time to critically assess your 2018 goals—what went right, where did you misstep, where did you excel, how can you do better in 2019 and beyond? After you have gone through those goals, set new ones and make sure you have a system in place to keep you on track.

Professional Tip: Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) goals can help you evaluate the goals you wish to set. Think about whether they are realistic. You should write down your goals in your business plan to help keep you on track to achieve them. (Australian Government—Business)

Take time now to plan ahead and align your startup up for success in the New Year.

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3D printing expands product design possibilities

3D Printing Trends to Watch for in 2019

top 3D printing trends for 20192018 was an excellent year for 3D printing technology and there is no slow down in sight. Below are three major trends to watch for in the additive manufacturing segment in the coming year.

Higher Quality Metal 3D Printing

Metals were a new frontier for 3D printing this year. Businesses wanted to expand beyond the traditional materials associated with 3D printing and into something more durable. Where 3D printing metal parts were once costly to produce, new software and updated technology saw a decrease in price and a rise in quality.

“Metal printing is ideal for smaller scale production projects as it lends itself to production flexibility but at the same time is perfect for designs with high complexity.

Metal additive manufacturing (AM) is on the rise, as the material is ideal for producing lighter items at higher production rates.  A recent trend has been to utilize it for seats on aeroplanes. Upon completion, they weighed in an astonishing 50% lighter than their regular counterparts at only 766 grams. As the technology moves forward, we can expect forms of metal printing to change the dynamic of industries.” (Tech Magz)

We will no doubt be hearing about end-use production and more affordable 3D metal printing in 2019 and beyond.

Increased Productivity

Production speed has been a barrier to 3D printing adoption on a mass scale. However, there has been a push by both researchers and 3D printing corporations to increase production speeds, which will help lower this barrier.

“The University of Michigan created an algorithm that reduces vibrations (a significant reason for the reduction of quality of the finished product). Allowing manufacturing speeds to double while producing the same standard of quality, and most importantly to the manufacturers, with no additional hardware costs involved.

In conjunction, MIT engineers developed a desktop printer that has an output times 10 of anything on the commercial market. Using Polymer, fed through the nozzle with a new form of mechanism, it flows faster, and so what would take hours now takes minutes.” (Gadget Miner)

A Rise in Customization

Customization is the “sweet spot” for 3D printing. Major companies and manufacturers have started to take notice that consumers are interested in more customized product options which 3D printing can deliver. The automobile, aerospace and dental industries have been utilizing 3D printings customization ability for years now, but other industries are also starting to take notice.

“Last year Scultpteo’s annual State of 3D printing study showed that offering customized products’ was a top priority for companies who took the survey.

We have seen evidence of this in 2018 with the likes of Adidas, New Balance and Nike already aligning themselves with both household names in the tech and athletics world to experiment with 3D printing to customize their footwear brands that will be designed to the person’s specific biomechanical data.” (Gadget Miner)

As the software advances, materials expand, demand for customization increases and 3D printing production becomes faster, we will see more adoption of the technology across industries. As always, we look forward to the year ahead and can’t wait to see what advancements await.

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3D Academy will be an exhibitor at RobotX STEM Expo 2018

3D Academy: RobotX STEM Expo Exhibitor (Dec. 11-12, 2018)

3D Academy, 3D Innovations, RobotX STEM Expo, HawaiiOur 3D Academy will be an exhibitor at the upcoming RobotX STEM Expo. Our team will have a booth at the event and will be conducting a hands-on session demonstrating the VPerch program as well as discussing the ways in which 3D printing technology can be implemented into the classroom.

What is VPerch?

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 the engineering design process through the virtual design (3D CAD) process where they can design and simulate (virtually test) their UROV 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. We look forward to talking more about the VPerch program and demonstrating it at the RobotX STEM Expo.

3D Printing Technology in the Classroom

3D printing technology promotes active and hands-on learning while having the power to open a world of career possibilities to students.

Four Benefits of Introducing Students to 3D Printing:

  • Hands-On Learning. 3D printing makes learning fun and engaging. Students are able to move away from books and lectures and actually design and print the subject they are learning about.
  • Creating Inventors. Instead of buying someone else’s creation, kids can identify a problem and create their own solution. Giving students the power to design and build with cutting-edge technology gets their minds thinking about the things they can create.
  • Real World Problem Solving. 3D printing is a technology that businesses, engineers and scientists are using everyday to change the world. Put that same technology into the hands of students and introduce them to some of the challenges facing the community.
  • Engaging Students. 3D printing has a ‘wow factor’ with students since it is not something they see every day. It motivates and engages students to learn.

3D printing inspires creativity and can help encourage students to explore a career in engineering or science.

Additional RobotX STEM Expo Event Details
  • Date: December 11th & 12th
  • Time: 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM
  • Location: Sand Island Boat Launch, Honolulu, HI
  • Pre-registration is required to schedule school groups for the STEM Expo (12/11-12). Please contact HI FusionED at info[at]hifusioned.org or leave a message at (808) 988-1931 with a contact name, school and phone number to schedule or for more information.

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Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving

thanksgiving, thank you, 3D InnovationsOur 3D Innovations team would like to wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

 “Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” ― W.J. Cameron

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, we would like to send a big ‘thank you’ to our valued clients. Our clients are the driving motivation and the reason we do what we do. Each project we work on is unique, just like each client. Seeing the excitement build as we assist in the development of taking an idea and turning it into a real-world product fuels our desire to keep helping entrepreneurs launch their dreams.

We are incredibly grateful for our support network and know that our business would not be where it is today without you.

Thank you.

-The 3D Innovations Team

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Harnessing 3D Printing Technology for Business

3d printing, additive manufacturingIt’s no secret that additive manufacturing, commonly referred to as 3D printing, is transforming the business landscape. Within the last decade we have witnessed this technology grow into what it is today, a way to disrupt supply chains and completely innovate the manufacturing landscape—from prototyping to production.

3D printing has been a favorite tool of makers and product design professionals alike because of its quick turnaround time and the fact that it is relatively cheap compared to all other manufacturing methods. 3D printing technology allows designers to quickly, easily and efficiently design and produce a product prototype for review within hours, instead of weeks. While prototyping is where additive manufacturing is most popular and widely used, the technology is beginning to mature and find its way into manufacturing for end-use parts as well.

3D Printing for Prototyping

Our design team regularly uses additive manufacturing technology during the product development cycle when we are working with entrepreneurs and startups on prototyping and finalizing a product design. 3D printing technology is still growing and maturing, it seems that every week new filaments are being developed and new uses for the technology are being discussed. However, as the technology stands today, its strength, its competitive advantage and its usefulness remain in the realm of prototyping. Visual and functional prototyping are imperative when designing a product and this is where 3D printing excels.

3D Printing for Manufacturing

When it comes to manufacturing, 3D printing technology has an advantage on short-runs, however, at this time, it is not able to compete with other traditional forms on a mass-manufacturing scale.

Due to the speed, quality and cost of additive manufacturing, “the technology is best suited for the production of specialty parts in smaller batches, rather than mass-manufactured goods. However, there is an industry shift towards expanding 3D printing technology to take a more prominent role in mass manufacturing. This technology brings some important qualities to the world of manufacturing that make it ideal for certain jobs. For instance, parts can have complex geometries impossible with traditional manufacturing processes. It is also possible to 3D print goods on demand, allowing for easy creation of custom parts” (Engineering.com).

The 3D printing metal segment is making great strides towards high volume manufacturing and McKinsey forecasts the industry to be worth as much as $10 billion by 2030 to 2035. Read more about developments in the metal 3D printing segment on our blog.

3D Printing Quote

At 3D Innovations, we offer 3D printing services to a range of startups, businesses and makers. If you have a design ready to be printed, and would like a quote, please visit our 3D Printing Quote Request page. We have made the quote process quick and easy. Whether you need a prototype or a short manufacturing run, we can help.

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Domestic v. International Manufacturing for Your Startup

manufacturingWhether you are considering having your product manufactured in your home country or overseas, you need to take into account the benefits and disadvantages of each before reaching a final decision. Each item on your list should be weighed based on your startup’s goals, mission, customers and timeline. Below you will find a preliminary pros and cons list to help you get started.

Domestic Manufacturing Advantages
  • Easier Communication. When you and your manufacturing partner share the same language, you are less likely to experience communication barriers and breakdowns. When communication is a challenge, it can be costly for your startup.
  • Visit the Facility. When your manufacturer is close, you are easily able to visit the factory and build a trusting relationship with your manufacturing partner.
  • Faster Fulfillment. When you don’t have to factor in international shipping, your product will most likely be available much quicker, which means that you can get it to market faster.
  • Production Flexibility. Domestic manufacturers are usually able to accommodate smaller production runs. While an international manufacturer might be able to offer a smaller production run, shipping can make it cost prohibitive.
  • Reduced Shipping Fees. If you intend to sell your product domestically, you will be able to save money on shipping costs.
  • Positive Press & Market Perception. The American public tends to view products made domestically as superior in quality and is therefore willing to pay more for your product.
  • IP Security. Intellectual property (IP) can make or break a startup. Copycat products not only hurt your brand, but they can also harm consumers. Manufacturing your product domestically may decrease the chance of intellectual property theft.
Domestic Manufacturing Disadvantages
  • Higher Costs. Manufacturing your product domestically usually means that you will be paying more for your product. U.S. labor laws require manufacturers to provide minimum wage for workers along with safe working environments.
  • High Volume Production Issues. Manufacturers are not as well equipped to produce high volume orders as their international counterparts.
International Manufacturing Advantages
  • Reduced Costs. Manufacturing a product overseas is almost always significantly less expensive than manufacturing domestically.
  • Increased Options. In the U.S. manufacturers tend to specialize in the products they can produce, whereas in China a manufacturer might be able to produce a wide range of products. There are also more factories in China which means you have options, helping to keep prices competitive.
  • High-volume Capability. International manufacturers excel when it comes to producing high-volume orders in a single production run.
International Manufacturing Disadvantages
  • Communication Barriers. By not sharing a language or native culture, navigating business can be a bit more challenging.
  • Challenging to Find. Not all international manufacturing facilities have a website, or keep up with the Google algorithm—which means that finding them on the internet can be a challenge. Also, the facilities that do have a website and provide contact information are most likely contacted very frequently by people “testing the waters”, so they may not respond to your email in a timely manner, or at all.
  • Limited Oversight. It is always a good idea to visit a facility before entering into a contract, however this can be a challenge with international suppliers. You might make the initial trip to visit the facility, but subsequent visits can quickly add up and could be cost prohibitive for your startup.
  • Increased Shipping Fees. When you intend to sell your product domestically, having your product shipped from their international facility to the U.S. can be costly. Increased tariffs and other political factors can make predicting shipping fees a bit challenging, and these fees can readily fluctuate.
  • Less Secure IP Rights. Without the protections of U.S. intellectual property rights, your product is vulnerable to IP theft and copycats flooding the market.

Ultimately the decision to manufacture either domestically or internationally is based on your budget, timeline and customer preferences. With our heightened political climate and a shift in attitude, many people now prefer to buy products that are made in the U.S., and are willing to pay more for these products.

Do you have additional questions about manufacturing your product? Send us an email at info@3d-innovations.com

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