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3D printing technology, also referred to as additive manufacturing, allows you to explore design possibilities without typical design constraints. This means that new shapes and figures that are not easily manufactured, or that are impossible to manufacture with traditional manufacturing methods, are now within the realm of possibility. Complex geometries, quick turnaround times and customization are a few of the main reasons that 3D printing has risen to popularity among a number of top industries: aerospace, automobile, dentistry and medical industries have all embraced additive manufacturing technology.
If you are wondering if 3D printing could benefit your project or business, here are a few points to consider:
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.
Customization is the “sweet spot” for additive manufacturing. 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.
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.
Additive manufacturing 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.
The additive manufacturing industry is continuing to grow and mature. Metal 3D printing, increased productivity and material selection are all areas that have seen rapid growth in recent years. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the technology and take advantage of what it has to offer.
Have additional questions about 3D printing for your product or business? Please send us an email at email@example.com and we are happy to answer your questions.
3D Innovations is hosting a summer intern through the STEMworks Internship program. We are thrilled to have Joanne as part of our team. She is currently attending Moanalua High School and we just know that she destined for great things. Take a minute to get to know her through this short Q&A.
Q: What sparked your passion for engineering?
A: I’ve always liked to build things. Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Innovation and Imagination Design Challenge and I designed and built a lamp with my team. That experience made me realize that I really enjoy seeing a project go from an idea to something real and tangible. It also made me realize that I liked designing and putting things together.
Q: What future career do you see yourself in?
A: Currently, I’m undecided because I like the medical profession and I like engineering.
Q: What are your favorite hobbies?
A: In my spare time I LOVE to catch up on some sleep and surf the internet.
Q: What inspires you?
A: My older sister, Jeanna, and my HOSA State Advisor, Mrs. Toyama, inspire me. They’re both very confident and skilled individuals and I hope to make them proud.
Q: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
A: I was digging through my old photos on my phone and I found a video clip of my two friends testing whether or not their phones were waterproof. They both dunked their phones into the nearby pool where we were studying for chemistry finals. I think maybe the stress of finals made us a little delirious. Don’t worry, the phones survived, and our final exams went smoothly!
Please feel free to reach out to us, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have words of encouragement or wisdom to pass along to Joanne.
Patents, copyrights and trademarks are all forms of intellectual property. For the purpose of this piece, patents — particularly design patents and utility patents — will be the focus of the conversation. While all three types of IP are indeed essential for success, hardware-focused products rely heavily on patents. Often times, proper patent protection can mean the difference between success and failure for a hardware startup.
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. There are three types of patents: utility, design and plant patents.
Once you have decided that you are interested in patenting your product, the next step is to conduct a patent search. A proper patent search will tell you if your invention, or its likeness, has been patented before or if your invention is indeed one-of-a-kind. There is nothing more time consuming, financially draining and demoralizing than filing for a patent, only to find that someone else already holds the patent to your invention.
The USPTO makes it possible to conduct a preliminary patent search on your own; however, it is highly recommended that you consult with a licensed patent search firm to assist with the bulk of the research. These firms have vast experience researching and are extremely knowledgeable in the classification systems.
Design patents are often overlooked and underutilized compared to the more common utility patents. “Five percent of all patent applications (more than 30,000 per year) are design patents.” (Upcounsel) Design patents focus on the exterior design, features and overall aesthetics of the product. Utility patents focus on the functionality and features of your invention.
Design patents extend to what is exactly shown in the line drawings, nothing more. “Some products might need multiple design patents. Each would cover a specific physical feature of the proposed product. Cars, for instance, require many design patents.” (Upcounsel) Having high-quality professional line drawings by a CAD designer is extremely advantageous. With a design patent, you are able to use the coveted phrases, patent pending and patent issued on all marketing material, and have confidence that your invention is protected for the next fourteen years. Also. when it comes to cost, design patents are considerably cheaper to file than utility patents.
Utility patents focus solely on the inner workings of your invention, its unique functions and overall usefulness. “While a utility patent is harder to get, it offers better coverage. The utility patent has stronger protections built into the patent system.” (Upcounsel) An invention is deemed useful if it provides an identifiable benefit and is capable of use. People often refer to utility patents as “patents for invention”. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, ninety-percent of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents. With a utility patent your invention will be protected for the next twenty years.
A design patent coupled with a utility patent provides overlapping protection for both the inner workings and exterior design of your product, and is a powerful tool in your IP arsenal.
When it comes to hardware product development you are sure to have a lot of questions. The path to success is not linear with any business, and hardware products are no exception. For first-time entrepreneurs, we have gathered some of our most popular hardware product development posts that give insight into the first stages of development along with tips and suggestions.
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 developing a hardware product, below are actionable items to keep you on track so that you are successful.
Coming up with a hardware 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.
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 into hardware product development and starting a business, but have no desire to pick-up and move, below are a few ideas on how you can successfully launch your hardware startup from your home city.
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.
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 during your hardware product development stages, while also making your target market aware that it will be available to them soon.
A product development firm should be your partner in this startup journey. Having a great product idea is exciting — executing that idea though can be a bit tricky since the road to product commercialization to fraught with obstacles. Often, startup founders turn to a product development firm to help make their idea a reality.
Don’t let the notion that hardware is hard stop you from pursuing your dream of building a product and launching your startup. With the right information and secure partnerships, successful hardware product development is possible and the time to start is now.
Have any additional questions about hardware product development? We can help. Please send us an email at email@example.com
Diving deeper and exploring STEM subjects during summer break allows students to find what truly interests them. In school, there is a curriculum to follow and goals to meet; however, the unstructured summer months let students explore their own interests in science, technology, engineering, and math. 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.
Here we share a few ideas on exploring STEM subjects together as a family.
Makerspaces are popping up all over cities. Many libraries now have Makerspaces of their very own that are available to the community. In a makerspace, students can create anything their mind dreams up. Most makerspaces have the tools available to create both virtual and physical objects.
“To define a school makerspace by its purpose and simplest of terms, it is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests; learn to use tools and materials, both physical and virtual; and develop creative projects.” Laura Flemming ‘Worlds of Making’
3D CAD programs are available to a wide range of ages. The best part is that you don’t have to be an engineer yourself to help your student find a CAD program that best suits them. Many of the CAD programs focused on younger demographics come with fun and interactive tutorials to help them, and you, get started.
Science museums are a great place to get your hands moving with exploring STEM subjects. Unlike traditional museums, science museums are usually a place where you can ‘learn by doing’. Explore weather patterns, the human body, the solar system and so much more with a trip to a science museum. If your child doesn’t have a specific interest in a science area, this range of material just might help them find what truly interests them.
Head outdoors and into nature. The National Parks Service hosts Junior Ranger programs at all of their parks, which encourages students to explore, learn and protect. The Junior Ranger program provides activities and educational booklets to help your child learn about what they see within the park.
Subscription boxes are a fun and easy way to foster your child’s love of learning. With the rise in popularity of subscription boxes, there are now quite a few focused on various STEM subjects now. These boxes arrive monthly and contain activities for you and your child to do together. One month you might be engineering a mechanical claw and the next you are building the solar system together. These boxes provide a great opportunity for hands-on learning.
STEM education teaches valuable life skills that carry over into all aspects of daily life. This summer, keep your child learning and engaged with some fun hands-on activities.
A STEM focused summer camp will give your student a structured, hands-on approach learning. Your child will be surrounded by peers with similar interests to their own and teachers that want to foster their love of learning STEM subjects.
Our 3D Academy hosts and participates in STEM Enrichment Camps throughout the year. Head on over to our 3D Academy calendar to view our upcoming camps.
3D Academy, a division of 3D Innovations, specializes in developing and integrating industry technologies with STEM Programs and Education.
3D Academy promotes (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.
Our core program utilizes 3D CAD and takes students through the entire design process (design, prototyping, manufacturing, etc.). When integrated into the school curriculum, our STEM education programs provide students with opportunities to solve real world design problems, engage with industry standard technology, and transform concepts into reality.
Interested in a personalized hands-on approach to STEM education in your classroom or school? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can talk further about your program needs and how our 3D Academy can assist you.
Protecting intellectual property (IP) is important to any business, but especially so when you are launching a startup. Often your IP’s security can mean the difference between a viable business and a startup failure. That is why protecting your IP during the manufacturing phase of product development is critically important. Below we examine the IP security pros and cons of domestic v. international manufacturing for your hardware startup.
When it comes to manufacturing your product in the U.S. there are many benefits, such as: ease of access, clear communication, fast fulfillment, reduced shipping fees and IP security.
When you hold a patent in the United States and decide to also manufacture here, you are guaranteed a certain level of security that your startup’s IP won’t be stolen. However, if for some reason this security breaks down, you have legal recourse for the damages.
When it comes to manufacturing your product abroad there are certain advantages that can make monetary sense for your startup: reduced costs, high-volume capacity and increased manufacturer partner options. However, IP protection is not one of the benefits.
If your invention is protected in the U.S. with a patent, trademark or copyright, these protections are not guaranteed overseas. Patenting an invention in the U.S. is not necessarily quick and it can be costly—the same goes for international patents. Often startups don’t have the funds to allocate to international patent protection. However, there are other ways to protect your IP in a foreign market.
A well written and carefully constructed non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can protect IP from the onset. Clauses covering IP security can be included to establish clear ownership.
Restricting the number of individuals that have access to your product’s IP and conducting background checks on key personnel can help keep your IP safeguarded. Encrypting all digital files and communication that contain IP is another measure you can take to protect it.
You can transfer some of your IP risk by acquiring insurance. Intellectual Property Insurance typically protects against the significant legal costs that will need to be paid if an organization pursues its IP claims through the court system. It can cover both enforcing and defending claims. (Source: Trade Ready)
As President Lincoln once remarked, the patent system adds “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.” IP rights, which include patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights play an essential role in monetizing innovation. (Inc.)
Have additional IP and manufacturing related questions? Send us an email at email@example.com
Save the date for the Honolulu Mini Maker Faire on June 22nd. The event will take place at the ‘Iolani School from 12pm to 5pm. This is a great family event and a chance to see what the local maker community is working on.
Our President, Collin Kobayashi, will be at our 3D Innovations booth answering your 3D printing, prototyping and product commercialization questions. This is a great chance to talk with Collin about the product development process and learn more about what it takes to bring a product to life.
A 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.
Tickets to the Honolulu Mini Maker Faire are FREE, however it is recommended that you go online and reserve your tickets beforehand. Your reserved tickets will speed up the registration process and help the event estimate attendance. (Reserve your ticket here.)
WHAT I DO: I help companies in all industries bring new products to market, reduce prototyping costs, ensure requirements and quality are achieved, and develop manufacturing and go-to-market strategies.
WHY IT WORKS: I’ve spent almost 20 years in Design/Manufacturing sectors and understand the challenges and needs of companies doing R&D. Using our expertise in prototyping and manufacturing along with industry standard software and equipment, we will accelerate your development process and bring products to market faster.
HOW IT WORKS: The first step in the process is to schedule a consultation to discuss your project goals, objectives and challenges. Through this initial session, we will be able to outline a high-level strategy and plan for bringing your product to market. I’ll also make a professional recommendation for the next steps that should be taken to ensure you can take your product to market!
To learn more about the Honolulu Mini Maker Faire, head on over to the official website.
We look forward to seeing you there!
The startup mindset is a powerful thing. Being at the helm of a business is exhilarating—there are ups and downs but the uncertainty of it all can be quite exciting. For people with a startup mindset they find the unknown to be an exciting challenge. Often the conversation around the startup mindset is focused on how it pertains to entrepreneurs, however, this mindset can be applied to students, individuals starting a new job or those looking for a new perspective in their daily lives.
Does uncertainty motivate you? Do you like to find creative solutions to a problem? Entrepreneurs look at uncertainty as though they have control of their future. They understand the problem they are facing and take control of solving it on their terms. Often this trait can come across as unshakable confidence. Solving a tough problem to them means they are in control of their future.
Children and students are great at asking ‘why?’, but as adults our constant curiosity can slowly diminish. The fear of the unknown can cause us to look for certainty in all situations. With a startup mindset our curiosity is reinvigorated. This mindset allows us to constantly ask questions and ultimately shake up entire industries by developing revolutionary ideas and businesses.
“That is just the way things are done” does not work with a startup mindset. Established wisdom does not mean that is how it must be done going forward. “Disruptive success comes from thinking in a different way than others have done, not just from following in their footsteps.” (Brainscape)
Starting a business is a risk—it is both a financial and time commitment risk. People with a startup mindset look at risk as an opportunity to create something bigger than themselves. No business is guaranteed success, and in many cases, failure is more likely. However, the challenge of launching and scaling a business is a risk worth taking for those with the right mindset.
Mistakes are part of being human, it is how we learn from them that sets us apart. Roadblocks during product development, manufacturing and product launches are all normal. How we decide to tackle these roadblocks is what matters. As we have all heard time and again, often we can learn more from failure than we can from success.
These are five elements of a startup mindset that you can take with you into any school, career or startup. The flexible, fast-moving and curiosity-driven mindset of the startup world can transform your approach to every aspect of your daily life.
For many inventors a licensing agreement is often a great option since it lets them develop a product, but then puts the expenses associated with commercialization on a more experienced manufacturer.
A licensing agreement is a deal between the owner of a patent, brand, or trademark and someone who wants to use the patented or trademarked goods and services. (Upcounsel)
With a licensing agreement, an inventor (the licensor) develops an invention and then protects that invention through a patent, copyright, trademark, or trade secret, and thus creates intellectual property (IP). The inventor—the owner of the intellectual property—then licenses the invention to a second party (the licensee) whose responsibility is to commercialize the invention. As compensation for allowing another party to use its intellectual property, the licensor will receive a royalty.
There are many types of licensing agreements: trademark licensing, copyright licensing, patent licensing, software licensing and merchandise licensing. Intellectual property licensors use three main types of licensing agreements: exclusive license, non-exclusive license and sole license. (Read about each type on Upcounsel)
Globalization has made licensing agreements a very popular option for businesses and inventors. Often, licensing is a strategic way of entering international markets. A foreign company will obtain rights to produce and/or sell another company’s product in its home country.
Below is a list of the top benefits of licensing your invention/IP.
Overall, licensing agreements minimize risk for both parties involved. The licensor doesn’t have to setup a business and incur those additional expenses and the licensee doesn’t have to spend time on product development and testing.
Read our Case Study that details how our team worked on turning a consumer product idea into a manufacturable product for licensing to a large international retailer.
Have additional questions about licensing agreements for inventors? Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A product development firm should be your partner in this startup journey. Having a great product idea is exciting—executing that idea though can be a bit tricky since the road to product commercialization to fraught with obstacles. Often, startup founders turn to a product development firm to help make their idea a reality. Here we look at ways that a product development partner can help you beyond the design and prototyping phases.
A product development firm should be by your side from idea to store shelves. Having a single team in place throughout the entire product development process means that there is less room for error and that you can count on consistency. A full-service product development firm is invested in the success of your product and wants to see it on in the hands of your customers just as much as you do.
Intellectual property is no longer a “should have”, in today’s globalized world it is a “must have”. A product development firm will be able to help you navigate the world of patents, trademarks and copyrights along with your IP attorney.
Line drawings are necessary for design and utility patents, and your product development partner can produce these for your patent application. Since product development firms work with a range of IP attorneys, they will also be able to help you connect with one that fits your specific product needs.
When it comes to licensing, your product development partner will be able to provide the technical aspects of the design to interested partners as well as their manufacturers. Licensing a product requires strategy and know-how, and this is exactly what a firm will be able to provide.
Manufacturing your hardware product is no small task. Whether you decide to manufacture at home or abroad, there are certain unavoidable challenges. A product development partner will help you navigate the manufacturing process and connect you with potential manufacturing partners.
With the assistance of a product development firm, you will be guided by knowledgeable experts throughout the entire development process. You can ask questions, share ideas and collaborate on all aspects of the product development process. A skilled product development firm will be able to guide you from design to manufacturing and beyond.
Now it’s time to get out there and meet potential product development partners. In this blog post we discuss what you can expect during your first product development meeting.
Have additional questions about product development? Send us an email at email@example.com.