... Read more →
Our client, The Baby Toon, was featured on the Season 11 Premiere of Shark Tank and was able to successfully secure a deal with Lori Greiner. Inventor of The Baby Toon, Cassidy Crowley (age 10), and her family have been on this startup journey for three years now and watching it culminate with a deal on Shark Tank was certainly a highlight for them and us. We had a chance to talk with Cassidy and her mom, Lori, to discuss the entire experience and share their favorite memories with us.
Cassidy C.: I learned to just go for it because you never know unless you try! It was super exciting to go through the whole Shark Tank process. I know not many kids or adults get this opportunity in life so I am very thankful. It was fun to get to see behind the scenes of my favorite TV Show and meet the Sharks!
What are the chances you’ll get on “Shark Tank”? On average, the show receives 35,000 to 40,000 applicants each season, some of whom are reapplying after earlier rejections. Of those, about 1,000 advance to a second round of vetting. But this season 10, the show filmed just 158 pitches, and will air only 88 of them, four each episode. So even getting into the tank is no guarantee of TV glory. -USA Today
Lori C.: I learned how with the power of the internet, and Google, you could learn how to do and approach things you know absolutely nothing about! I also learned that your kids can inspire you to never give up! There were many times that I felt defeated and wanted to give up simply because we didn’t know how, had no experience, and didn’t have a friend we could ask to point us in the right direction. However, in those difficult times, it was the kids who said, “we can’t give up”. Their drive, perseverance, and determination to push through even when we didn’t know the answers is something I as a parent will always admire and remember. It really is because of them that we were able to take this journey from science fair to Shark Tank and I am so proud of their commitment to this.
Cassidy C.: My favorite part was showing The Baby Toon to these super successful Shark entrepreneurs.
Lori C.: Cassidy was amazing and handled herself with grace, energy and poise that I could never do at 10 years old or even now at 40! I’m so proud of her strength. I am proud of my other daughters for the never-ending positive support they gave their sister. They were right there every step of the way. We met the most wonderful people along the journey who became our friends and taught us so much.
“We met the most wonderful people along the journey who became our friends and taught us so much. We really knew nothing about how to design and start a business and the experts we met were completely open, knowledgeable, and kind enough to educate our family (with 3 kids!) about their area. Thank you so much for being kind and patient. 3D Innovations and Collin, you set the tone and caliber so high from the start everyone else we worked with had to match up to you!” -Lori C.
Cassidy C.: I loved learning about 3D printing, how you could design on a computer and actually 3D print it! I liked going to Albany, NY at Extreme Molding because we got to see our mold and how silicone is made, injected into the mold, and see how the product comes out of the machine. I loved selling our product and sharing our story live with people at the Baby Expo and craft fairs. And finally Shark Tank, like I mentioned above, pitching to the Sharks then actually talking to Lori Greiner about The Baby Toon’s future.
Lori C.: Learning with my kids! You’re never too old to learn! Traveling to see a working US manufacturing company and bringing home the first suitcases of Baby Toons hot off the press! And of course, auditioning for Shark Tank, getting a call back, and actually making it to the Season Premiere! Really, who would have ever thought a little 7-year-old from Hawaii with a dream of sharing her school science project with the Sharks would be there, pitching The Baby Toon 3 years later. It was truly one of those just try and see what happens—and a memory we will all never forget. It was just so cool to see the Sharks right in front of us asking Cassidy questions and seeing how she would respond. There is a lot going on and lots of questions that are asked. She was fearless, it was so fun to watch.
The Baby Toon has been a truly special project to work on. From the start, Cassidy and her family have been eager to learn about all aspects of product development and open to ideas.
You are never too young or old to invent. If you have an idea or passion that you think can change the world, go for it! Many first-time entrepreneurs often think that they need to have all of the answers figured out before reaching out to us—you don’t. As a product development partner, we help guide you through each step of the product development process and help you connect with the right industry partners.
If you have questions about developing your product idea, send us an email at email@example.com.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
Update: Here is a link to the news segment that aired: 3D Innovations provides students with hands-on learning experience
President of 3D Innovations LLC, Collin Kobayashi, will sit down with Hawaii News Now to talk about the rapid growth of the 3D printing industry and how this industry is influencing major industries here in Hawaii and worldwide. The segment will air on Tuesday, September 24th at 7:20am HST.
3D printing is a technology that lets you create a physical object from a digital model. This technology originated in 1983 and since then has seen a steady rise in popularity. The original function of 3D printing technology, and still its most popular use today, was to rapidly create, develop and test product prototypes. One of the original terms for the technology was in fact, ‘rapid prototyping’. However, as the technology has evolved and matured, so has its name—today it’s most commonly referred to as 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.
The benefits of 3D printing are numerous: speed, complexity, customization, personalization, simplified manufacturing and ease of access to name a few. For entrepreneurs, these benefits translate into faster product development and quicker product launches. For businesses, these benefits open a completely new way of imaging product designs, expanding product offerings and streamlining the manufacturing process.
The aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, robotics, medical and dental industries are the top industries helping to propel 3D printing forward. These industries have been able to successfully utilize the technology for end-use parts and in turn, have sped up the way they design, build and manufacture—saving companies significant time and money. According to the industry leading Wohler’s Report, the 3D printing industry is forecasted at $15.8 billion for 2020. The forecast continues to climb to $23.9 billion in 2022, and $35.6 billion in 2024.
While 3D printing is making its mark on startups and businesses, it has also found a niche in education. Schools are eager to bring this technology into the classroom as a way of providing hands-on learning experiences. The landscape of education, particularly STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, is shifting and 3D printing is at the forefront. By engaging students in hands-on learning, students are now designing and 3D printing their creative solutions to real world problems, bringing math to life and exploring subject matter in a new and innovative way.
Here at 3D Innovations LLC we utilize this technology frequently throughout the product development process and in our 3D Academy workshops. Head on over to our website to see the various ways we are able to help entrepreneurs, in Hawaii and beyond, develop and launch their startups.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
The Crowley family came to us with the idea for The Baby Toon. Their daughter, Cassidy (age 7), had come up with the idea and the design for the Honolulu District Science and Engineering Fair.
“I was instructed to identify a problem. When I went home, I noticed that my mom always got scared when my baby sister put the back of a long, hard, plastic spoon in her mouth. I didn’t want anything to happen to her and I didn’t like seeing my mom so worried, so I came up with… The Baby Toon!”
We worked with the Crowley family on finding the optimal design for The Baby Toon, we used 3D printing to test prototypes and worked with their manufacturing partner on the molding. The Baby Toon also holds a patent, in which we were able to assist as well.
3D Innovations was efficient, current with technology during the design and engineering process, and aware of staying within our financial budget. Our family was not only educated and received expert advice through the process, but we gained a friend who we enjoyed working with.
-Lori Crowley, The BabyToon
The Baby Toon is a safer option for a baby spoon that eliminates the long sharp design of a traditional spoon. It is made of soft FDA grade silicone with rounded corners and edges (gentle on the baby’s gums) and it’s BPA/PPA free. Babies can also teethe on this soft spoon as well. The Baby Toon is easy for babies and parents to hold with a short neck that protects babies from choking. It also works great for big sisters or brothers to assist with feedings.
The Crowley family was notified recently that they would be on the Season Premiere of Shark Tank and below is their daughters’ reaction to the news!
Head on over to the Case Study section of our website to see a range of products where we have worked closely on many aspects of the product development and helped entrepreneurs launch their businesses.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
As the school year ramps up for students many are starting their journey into STEM education, some for the first time. STEM subjects are a critical component of education and our future workforce. A recent article from Forbes, STEM And STEAM Education: Why We Need Them, captures the need for quality STEM education perfectly:
“STEM education is more critical than ever for all children. It’s vital to the future of our workforce, and we need to equip all children with the tools they need to succeed in a competitive economy.” -Becky Lynch, Director of US Community Partnerships at GSK
Below we have gathered some of our most popular STEM related articles. We hope that these pieces inspire both students, teachers and parents alike to delve deeper into the world of STEM education.
Introducing innovation into a classroom can help students turn their passion into future careers. Here we share five ways to help students develop an innovation mindset and build important life-long skills.
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.
While this piece was written for summer, it can be adapted to any school break.
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.
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.
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.
Fostering a love of STEM early-on is a great way to help students use their imaginations, build with their hands and help them understand that they can create the future.
3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing, has captured the imagination of consumers, product designers and manufacturers alike over the last decade. We have witnessed the technology go through a hype cycle and come out the other side a more mature and grounded technology. No longer are people predicting a 3D printer in every home; however, product development engineers and the manufacturing industry have seen widespread use of the technology grow as material selection has increased and test use-cases in the aerospace and automotive industries have proved wildly successful.
During the major 3D printing hype cycle of the mid 2010’s, 3D printing technology was being touted as a green technology that was on the cusp of revolutionizing the way we build products and conduct business. At the time there were green components to the technology, but as a whole, it could not necessarily be considered environmentally friendly. Fast forward a decade, and we now see the technology heading towards a more sustainable future through advancements.
Plastic pollution is a global problem. Microplastics can be found in nearly everything—from the food we eat to the deepest depths of the ocean. Plastic, specifically ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), is a top material used in 3D printing; however, there has been a push to develop more environmentally friendly materials, such as PLA ((Polylactic Acid). “PLA is manufactured out of plant-based resources such as corn starch or sugar cane, making PLA much better for the environment because they are made from renewable resources.” (Fabbaloo)
“PLA plastics are more environmentally friendly. Unlike other thermoplastics that are petroleum-based, they are made from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca roots, or sugar cane. PLA is also much easier to print with compared to ABS; printing can be completed at higher speeds without a heat controlled surface or harmful emissions. Not only do they tend to have a smoother and more appealing appearance, but they can also be used for food packaging being that they are made from food-based materials. However, there are some major limitations to using PLA plastics. Primarily, they are less sturdy then ABS plastics and can become deformed from heat, making them unsuitable for high stress applications.” (Fabbaloo)
While the materials used in 3D printing aren’t 100% sustainable yet, there is an alternative that many people have turned to, filament recyclers. Whether you purchase a filament recycler or use a service, you are reducing waste and recycling materials that should not be in a landfill.
The concept of 3D printing is to produce a part on demand thus reducing shipping and warehouse costs. The aerospace industry has been successful in producing highly customized parts locally that can be used in airplanes. These customized parts often have highly specialized and complex designs that can reduce weight, thus lowering fuel consumption and greenhouse gases.
Many researchers think the capability to make such complicated parts, and resulting gains in energy efficiency, may offer the greatest environmental benefits from additive manufacturing. (Fast Company)
Traditional manufacturing methods take a piece of material and cutaway at it until the final product is formed—there is a great deal of waste that comes with subtractive manufacturing. On the other hand, additive manufacturing produces a product layer-by-layer until the final product is complete, leaving substantially less waste. Yes, large designs will require supports that will need to be cleared away in post-processing, but on average less waste is produced.
As the additive manufacturing industry continues to grow and mature, we suspect that new ways to reduce material waste will be of concern.
As consumers and businesses start focusing more on sustainability, we know that 3D printing materials and waste reducing methods will take center stage. While the technology is not currently a “green technology” with research and advancements it can certainly become more environmentally friendly.
In recent years the conversation around 3D manufacturing and traditional manufacturing methods has shifted—no longer are these viewed as competitors, but instead as complimentary manufacturing methods. Each method, additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing, has its own benefits and shortcomings, they are not mutually exclusive.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a manufacturing method that builds an object layer by layer, with each layer of material the object is closer to completion.
A CAD file feeds the 3D printing machine the information that it needs to create the object. “Depending on the technology, the 3D printer deposits material, selectively melts and fuses powder, or cures liquid photopolymer materials to create parts based on the CAM data. The 3D printed parts often require some form of cleaning and finishing to achieve their final properties and appearance before they’re ready to use.” (Formlabs) Currently, the most common materials used for additive manufacturing are plastics and metals. There are a range of other materials that have been developed, but are not as widely used (i.e. ceramics, wood and glass).
Additive manufacturing is ideal for a range of product development and manufacturing applications—prototyping, tooling, highly customized parts and short-run productions to name a few. 3D manufacturing technology excels when it comes to product design. Complex geometries offer a high degree of design freedom that traditional manufacturing methods just can’t reach.
“Subtractive manufacturing is an umbrella term for various controlled machining and material removal processes that start with solid blocks, bars, rods of plastic, metal, or other materials that are shaped by removing material through cutting, boring, drilling, and grinding. These processes are either performed manually or more commonly, driven by computer numerical control (CNC).” (Formlabs)
As with additive manufacturing, a CAD file is used to feed the design data to the manufacturing tool. These instructions tell the tool where to make cuts, holes and channels until the unnecessary material is chipped away and the object is complete.
Subtractive manufacturing is suitable for prototyping, tooling and end-use parts. This technology shines when it comes to high-volume production runs for end-use parts.
Since these manufacturing methods are not mutually exclusive, they are often used together during the product development process.
Additive manufacturing is used to make initial prototypes and functional prototypes at a reduced cost with quick turnaround times. Small parts and complex geometries are not a problem for this technology.
In the final stages of product manufacturing, it makes sense to utilize subtractive manufacturing methods for large volume production runs. This technology is much faster when it comes to making large parts and end-use products.
“In manufacturing, subtractive and additive processes often complement each other in the production of tooling, jigs, fixtures, brackets, molds, and patterns. Manufacturers often use plastic 3D printed parts for fast, custom, low-volume, or replacement parts and opt for subtractive metal processes for higher volumes or parts that are subject to more extreme mechanical stress and strain.
Utilizing both additive and subtractive manufacturing results in a hybrid process. This allows product designers and manufacturers to combine the versatility and quick turnaround times of additive manufacturing with the strength of subtractively produced parts.” (Formlabs)
Today’s manufacturing landscape is much different than it was even five years ago, using both technologies during product development is often best practice.
Manufacturing a new product is a challenge but finding the right manufacturing partner doesn’t have to be. Finding the perfect manufacturing partner for your hardware startup is going to take a bit of upfront research but, trust us, it will make the entire process much smoother later on.
Below are five questions to ask potential manufacturing partners on your search for the perfect match.
All manufacturers have experience, but your goal is to find a manufacturer that has experience building a product similar to yours in your market segment. 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.
For instance, if you are manufacturing a baby spoon find a manufacturer that has a great deal of experience in the baby product consumer market segment. Having a manufacturing partner that is knowledgeable about the industry you are entering means that they will be up-to-date with best practices, safety standards, and will have the ability to offer helpful insight.
Traditionally, startups need to start with small production runs and then scale up. You may find that some manufacturers 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, they may be willing to work with you on scope and budget because they understand the long-term potential you have as a client.
Not all manufacturers will be able to scale with your business. As your startup grows, the number of units you need will increase as well. Your initial manufacturing partner might be great at prototypes and low volumes, but higher volumes may pose a problem. Minimize production delays by meeting with other potential manufacturing partners that are able to adequately meet higher volume needs. You don’t have to stick with just one manufacturer.
Open communication is key with any successful business partnership. You want to feel comfortable that your manufacturing partner will reach out to you when there is a question, issue or the need for clarification. Whether they prefer phones calls or emails, make sure that you are also comfortable with their preferred communication method.
Your manufacturer is critical to your business’ success, so open communication is mandatory. It is imperative that you know and trust your manufacturer, before working with them. This is true whether you are manufacturing close to home or in another country. Phone calls and emails are great, but a visit to their location is highly recommended. Visiting the facility lets you meet the factory workers and see the facility. You want to feel comfortable that your product is in the right hands, and an on-site visit will do just this.
Other items to consider: check their client references, understand your startup’s cash flow and be prepared to compromise on the manufacturing timeline.
Doing your research early-on will help make the transition to manufacturing much smoother and less stressful.
Have additional questions about manufacturing your product? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to hardware product development the road to success is often winding and full of bumps and roadblocks, rarely is it linear. Navigating these unforeseen challenges can be overwhelming for many first-time entrepreneurs. To share some guidance, we have compiled a few of our top blog posts related to the early stages of hardware product development.
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.
When it comes to product design, creativity can really make a difference in the success of a product. First time entrepreneurs can get caught up in the idea that their original idea is the best idea, however this is not always the case. There are many reasons that your product may shift during product design—it is not efficient for manufacturing, timing is off, it’s too difficult for customers to use, it doesn’t have a solid consumer base. There are numerous factors that can change a product, and that is okay. It is okay to end up with a product that is different than your original idea, because the goal is success.
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.
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.
Product development partners are a great way to team up with knowledgeable experts that can help make your product idea a reality. A hardware product development partner can work with you from product idea through manufacturing and can assist in a wide variety of ways. Here we share a few suggestions on questions to ask potential product development firm partners.
Have additional hardware product development questions? Send us an email, email@example.com
Our 3D Academy is a huge proponent of hands-on project-based learning to bring innovation and new teaching techniques into the classroom. Here at 3D Academy, we believe that as the landscape of the work environment changes to meet global demands, so should the way we teach in the classroom. Introducing innovation into a classroom can help students turn their passion into future careers. Below are five ways to help students develop an innovation mindset and build important life-long skills.
To help students cultivate an innovation mindset, first you must show them what one looks like. This mindset focuses on critical thinking and asking “why”. While, it is easy to apply this mindset to STEM subjects, it can, and should, be applied to every subject. Think about all the times you are reading material and ask yourself “why”—Why is that? Why did this happen? Now, let your students see you asking these questions and encourage them to do the same.
Curiosity leads to finding answers together as a team. Critical thinking and team building are both valuable skills in any workplace environment.
Instead of problem-solving, teachers can help students look at the world by finding gaps to fill using problem-finding. Problem-finding is equivalent to problem discovery. Teachers can use problem-finding as part of a more significant problem process that can include problem-shaping and problem-solving all together. Problem-finding requires an intellectual and imaginative vision to seek out what might be missing or should be added to something important. Using this strategy, teachers can provide students with the opportunity to think deeply, ask critical questions and apply creative ways to solve problems. (Forbes)
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison
Students need to experience failure to learn. In her 2017 paper “Learning from Errors,” psychologist Janet Metcalfe states that avoiding and ignoring mistakes at school is the classic rule in American classrooms. When we don’t let students fail, we are most likely holding back not only individual student growth, but we are also holding back the entire education system. (Forbes)
Give your students a real-world problem to solve and see where their creativity and problem-solving skills take them. Let them fail and try again. This resiliency is imperative in all aspects of life.
Technology is making leaps and bounds—3D Printing, 3D CAD, Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality, Programming, all promote learning and engage students. These technologies have a ‘wow factor’ with students since they are not things they see every day. With our 3D Academy, we have seen how it really motivates and engages students to learn. Students who may otherwise not be actively engaged in the classroom, suddenly light up and want to participate when a new and exciting technology is introduced.
Students need to see real-world examples of people in a range of careers to know what is possible for them. It is hard to imagine a career as a product designer, engineer, nurse, marine biologist, etc. if you have never met one and are not quite sure what their daily work lives look like. Invite professionals in various stages of their careers to talk to your students. Entrepreneurship is often something that intrigues students, so call up an entrepreneur and let them talk to your students about their winding path to success.
Cultivating an innovation mindset is fun for both teachers and students. It is inviting a different teaching approach into the classroom and allows students to engage with material in a more hands-on way.
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 about your program needs and how our 3D Academy can assist you.
Product development partners are a great way to team up with knowledgeable experts that can help make your product idea a reality. Often, entrepreneurs don’t have all the skills or knowledge necessary to bring their product to market on their own—this is where a product development firm can help. Product development partners can work with you from product idea through manufacturing and can assist in a wide variety of ways. Below are a few suggestions on questions to ask potential product development firm partners.
Potential product development partners will most likely not have built your exact project before, however they should have relevant experience. You want to know that they have experience and knowledge in this space. You don’t necessarily need a partner that has worked solely in this space, because you want to have a product development partner that thinks “outside the box” and is focused on new and innovative design methods.
Working with a single product development firm through product manufacturing is going to streamline the entire development process. You want a firm that can handle prototyping, functional prototyping, testing, product analysis, design documentation, intellectual property support, and manufacturing expertise. Each of these areas requires extensive experience and knowledge.
In addition, having a single point of contact at the firm means that you can build a comfortable working relationship with your development partner, minimize frustrations and get all of your questions answered in a timely manner.
3D printing is a very popular prototyping technology that is widely used. You can print initial prototypes in hours, refine the design and print again until you reach a final design. However, that doesn’t mean that it is the best technology for your project. See what other types of prototyping capabilities they have and if those match with what you had in mind.
Manufacturing can be quite challenging, and you want a partner that has experience in this area along with good working relationships with manufacturers. Whether you decide to manufacture internationally or domestically, product development partners should be able to help guide you through this process and offer assistance.
In addition, be sure to check out past client reviews of any potential product development partners. You want a product development partner that will be with you every step of the way and cheering you on as you launch your product into the marketplace.
Have additional product development questions? Send us an email, email@example.com