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3D printing is a technology that has the ability to capture everyone’s imagination, however we need to remember that it is, in a sense, a secondary process and a lot of work comes before you start printing. We all see those fantastic time-lapse 3D printing videos floating around the internet, where in a mere minute you can watch a 3D printer bring a product to life. What you can’t see is the design and testing that comes beforehand.
Before you even get going with 3D printing, you must come up with your design. On the surface this seems simple enough, however one of the benefits of 3D printing is your ability to design shapes without traditional constraints. Less constraints mean that complex geometries can shine. 3D printing gives new meaning to “thinking outside of the box” when it comes to 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, 3D printing creates new product design opportunities.
Once you come up with a design, it’s time to develop it in a CAD program. This CAD file feeds the 3D printing machine the information that it needs to create the object.
“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 you a greater sense of the product. Using CAD makes it possible to simulate the movement of a part as well.” (Vista Industrial)
3D CAD has come a long way in recent years. You can design and stress test your product design all right on the computer. CAD simulations let you get a real feel for your product—how it looks, moves and does under pressure. The ability to do this means that you can refine your design before it is ever 3D printed.
Once you have cleared these hurdles and are happy with your design, it’s then time to head to the 3D printer. Depending on the size of your product, print times can take a few hours.
Fun fact, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Boeing still hold the record for “Largest solid 3D-printed item“, with the 3D printed wing trim tool that took 30 hours to make.
Assuming that you aren’t trying to break any Guinness World Records with print size, using 3D printing is a great way to cut down on the time it takes to get a customized part or prototype in your hand. Short turnaround, complex geometries and customization are the main benefits to 3D printing technology and the reason many businesses and entrepreneurs turn to this technology for assistance.
Have additional 3D printing questions? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
Deciding to develop a product and build a startup is a big undertaking and the more support you have around you, the more likely you are to succeed. Ten years ago, if you wanted to build a hardware product, moving to Silicon Valley or New York to find support seemed like the only option for success. Today this is not the case. Now more than ever entrepreneurs are building their businesses in their hometown and finding success.
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. Instead of shelling out that money for rent, put it to better use in your business to foster its growth. Less money towards the basics means that you can hire that salesman, upgrade your packaging, add a new feature—you see where we are going with this.
Chances are that if you are in a large enough city, there are other businesses out there supporting the startup community. You don’t necessarily need to find an industry specific support network, but instead a network that has the skillset your startup requires. Here in Hawaii, we provide product development support to hardware startups in a wide-range of industries. Our client, The Baby Toon, which is an innovative baby spoon designed with safety as the focus, was recently featured on the Season 11 Premiere of Shark Tank.
Cities all over the nation, and really the world, are realizing that creating a friendly startup ecosystem is good for business. Startup support might come from government programs, local universities, or corporate sponsorships—there is going to be support available, your job is to seek it out.
Through local relationships and organizations, you may gain access to anything from low-interest loans to access to venture capital that’s limited to local businesses, and opportunities to speak at local business events.
Networking is an often-overlooked aspect when you build a startup. Your network matters.
The benefit of launching your startup where you live is that you know people and have years-long relationships built with them already. You have an established community. Even if you’re not in a tech hub, you’re bound to be surrounded by business owners of some sort.
Maybe you know a local manufacturer that can help explain the manufacturing process to you and make introductions for you with their contacts. Perhaps you are neighbors with a local baker that excels at social media, and he/she is willing to give you a crash course on what you need to know to get started.
Building true connections in major tech hubs is nearly impossible. Personal relationships and real connections are hard to come by. However, this is not the case in your hometown.
Your ability to connect with local business leaders that you admire, city and state politicians, and other entrepreneurs is going to be much easier in a smaller city. Your access to people like this will help you successfully navigate the road to success as you build a startup.
The Rise of the Rest movement shows exactly what is happening to the startup landscape across the United States. Startups are interrupting large and established industries with new ideas and innovative products from smaller cities across the country. Investors are looking beyond established tech hubs for innovative startups and entrepreneurs that have the passion to succeed.
Start your new year, new decade and new business with a positive mindset and the goal to succeed. Make 2020 the year you build a startup.
If you have any questions about the product development process please 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.
In this post we are going over the product development basics for our friends thinking of launching their dream in the new year. As one year ends and another begins, it’s time for many to look ahead to the possibilities of what a brand new year can bring. If you have been mulling over a hardware product idea in your head and are ready to take that next step, the new year is a great time to get going on it. Below we are sharing product development basics to help get you started.
Write your idea down in detail. Talk about the functionality of your product, what it looks like and what you want it to achieve. Writing the details down will ensure that you don’t forget anything and help clarify the idea for yourself.
The documentation process doesn’t have to happen at one time, but instead, may evolve over time as you continue to build upon your idea and narrow its scope.
Now that you have your idea documented, start creating a requirements list—functionality that your product “must” have. You are narrowing in on the main functionality of your product and why it will appeal to consumers.
Once you have this information, you can create a 3D design to virtually validate and test your product. 3D design testing and analysis is a great way to prove your concept and at this stage making changes is easy. This is also a good time to start thinking about IP protection for your hardware product.
Depending on the type of hardware product you want to develop, you might be able to make a prototype at-home with traditional household items. However, keep in mind that this prototype won’t suffice as you head into manufacturing. In the very early stages, a homemade prototype will help convey your idea to potential investors and customers. As you move towards manufacturing, you are going to need a functional prototype developed using DFM (design for manufacturability) methodology to ensure a smooth transition into manufacturing.
Using your prototype, it is time to reach out to those potential customers to get their feedback and insight. At this stage you want to know what customers like about your product and what they don’t. Keep in mind that you might have to re-evaluate the design of your product if you are receiving feedback indicating that change is needed—these design changes may deviate from your initial idea, but ultimately you want to meet your customers’ needs.
Once you have finalized your design and are happy with the feedback you are receiving from your target market, it’s time to manufacture. Finding the right manufacturing partner can be an intimidating process, but you want to be sure that you are comfortable with your manufacturer since this could be a make or break stage for your hardware product.
It’s time to launch! During the commercialization stage you will develop distribution channels and finally get to see your product on store shelves. With the hard work it took to get to this stage, seeing your product in the hands of your customers is extremely gratifying.
Now that we have gone over product development basics at a high level, you can dig further into these topics on our blog. If you have additional questions, we are happy to help. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
Consumers are driving change and pushing companies to design environmentally friendly products. This has led to a real shift in the product development and manufacturing space towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices as well. “While poor packaging design, toxic materials, and disposable products can have a significantly negative ecological impact, the opposite is also true. Good packaging design, eco-conscious materials, and well-designed products go a long way toward reducing pollution and maximizing resources.” (CAD Crowd)
Incorporating eco-conscious design principals into your product is possible in a variety of ways. Below we explore ways to design environmentally friendly products.
The DfE approach to product design covers the entire life-cycle of a product. Below are the four main principals to design environmentally friendly products that have minimal negative impacts on the environment.
All products reach the end of their life cycle at some point. When they are no longer useful they are often put in the trash and sent to a landfill. This means that the material it is made of is now sitting in a landfill. Environmentally conscious design will account for this and utilize materials that can decompose or that do not emit harmful contaminants.
Consider the environmental impacts of the constituent materials and how they might be disassembled and reused. (CAD Crowd)
This concept applies primarily to electronic devices. The goal is to reduce, as much as possible, the overall energy consumed by the product over the course of its life cycle. Energy efficient light bulbs are the prototypical example of this principle in action. (CAD Crowd)
Consider how the raw materials that go into making the various components of your invention are extracted, processed, and manufactured. Whether and how they are mined, drilled, or grown and harvested will constitute a large part of the final product’s environmental footprint.
How were these materials processed? The nature of the raw materials will also determine whether the product will be recyclable, biodegradable, toxic, or otherwise dangerous to the environment. A major goal of this design principle is to minimize the amount of waste, pollution, and energy expenditure that goes into creating the product. (CAD Crowd)
Using reusable or recyclable shipping and packaging products, eliminating any unnecessary paper and plastic packaging material, and making efficient use of space are the key strategies for creating environmentally friendly packaging. (CAD Crowd)
Most businesses today aim to produce goods at a low cost while maintaining quality, staying competitive in the global marketplace and meeting consumer preferences for more environmentally friendly products.
The design of environmentally friendly products benefits businesses in a number of ways: cost savings, reduced business and environmental risks, expanded business and market opportunities, and to meet environmental regulations.
Have additional questions about designing an environmentally friendly product? Send us an email at email@example.com
We cannot underestimate the power of 3D printing as it pertains to manufacturing. It has allowed us to create complex parts with pinpoint accuracy, lowered the cost of production and expanded our imagination beyond historical limitations. The technology is poised to revolutionize the manufacturing industry in the future. Despite all these benefits, there are still several weaknesses that we have not been able to conquer in 3D printing. While the technology is still evolving, 3D printing firms like Geomiq will have to overcome several challenges to ensure quality, cost reduction and drive innovation. Here are five such challenges.
This is the most basic of the challenges that many printers have to contend with. The quality-related problems can be subdivided into few issues like available materials, low-resolution output and fused deposition modelling parts that are fragile. A combination of these three makes most 3D printed parts to be of an inferior quality to those manufactured with traditional means.
First, the material choices are limited to those that can be melted, squirted or extruded. This puts away lots of other materials that can produce better quality items. There have been strides in creating multi-materials, but there are only two at a time. Intelligent machine design may eventually solve problems with human error in complex printing, while improvements in output may help solve low output problems.
While 3D printing provides cheap items compared to traditional printing methods, it takes too many parameters, adjustments and juggling formats. It has been joked that the reason 3D printers are transparent is to enable engineers to determine if the printing is going on right. It is up to the printing firm to come up with clear processes when undertaking the printing work so that each output is similar to the rest.
Besides, professional organizations are also tasked with creating standardized processes for most of the 3D printing projects so that printing across various industries can result in quality and standardized products just like the case of traditional manufacturing. The overall goal is to have one-click printing reliability, just like the 2D printers.
As 3D printing technology continues to infiltrate various industries, there is a lack of enough skilled employees who can design, use software, computer-aided design and operate 3D printers. For the technology to live to its promise, companies need to invest resources and time into training staff members on emerging innovations in 3D printing. This may be a challenge as many seasoned engineers and companies are reluctant to incorporate new technologies. On the same note, technology institutions must also start investing in the technology and giving their students hands-on experience in 3D printing. The training will become easy if there is standardization, as explained in the section above.
The cost of owning an industrial-type 3D printer is prohibitive. Unlike many disruptive technologies where the cost of owning the technology is fairly low, with 3D printing, the company must have deep pockets for the capital equipment. Materials used in the printing are also not widely available and, therefore, do not come cheap. This makes it hard for most firms to invest in several printers or expand their production using 3D printers. If the technology is to gain traction in manufacturing, the cost of assembling the printers should go down so that many can own the piece of equipment.
Sadly, many 3D printing efforts are aimed at the wrong target. Most organizations would be happy to use the technology in creating replacement parts, tools and prototypes with the technology and not think of wholesome solutions or final production parts. The reason for this myopic view is because many engineers do not see the technology from a holistic view of solution building.
Any additive manufacturing technology should have a process, materials, parts and a system. It may be okay to separate the four ideas in manufacturing. However, when building a solution, all these parts must work together. For example, if you are creating springs for a piece of equipment, you should not see it just as parts but should look at the relationship with other parts. You can re-engineer the whole engine so that you produce smaller or better parts and result in high-performing, low-cost equipment. This way, 3D printing will have lived to its promise.
As we refine 3D printing technologies, manufacturers are likely to meet several challenges on the way. Most challenges can be dealt with to acceptable levels. However, manufacturers must also be dynamic enough to incorporate innovations in the technology as they come.
Guest post from Jessica Harper at Geomiq.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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. In a recent article we read on Entrepreneur, 8 Funny and Relatable Experiences That All Entrepreneurs Go Through, their third point really stood out to us: “Your end product is very different from the idea you started with”. Time and again we have seen this—the final product is not the exact original product idea.
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. You want to launch a product that resonates with consumers and successfully launches your startup.
To harness your creativity and be open to where product design can take you. If you are working with a product development firm, be open to design ideas. There are new manufacturing methods and design technologies available today that might be just what your product needs to take it to that next level.
Two technologies that will help you during the product design phase are:
3D design will give you a feel for your product before it is even in your hands. You will be able to see your product in 3D and test your design to validate it all before you have a physical object to hold.
3D printing technology allows you to design and develop a product that breaks the confines of traditional design. Complex designs that break traditional constraints are now manufacturable thanks to this innovative technology.
Depending on the size of your product, your first physical prototype might be 3D printed. This technology will let you design, refine and re-print your product until you land on a final design.
When it comes to product design, think outside the box—way outside the box. Don’t get in your own way and stifle your creativity. With the technology available today, you are able to let your design imagination run wild, and the craziest part is that what you imagine can actually be made.
Have additional product development questions? Send us an email, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org