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From the record number of patents issued in 2019, one thing is clear, intellectual property protection continues to be a cornerstone of businesses both big and small. “2019 saw a new high-watermark of 333,530 patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.” (Tech Crunch) When it comes to intellectual property protection, startups and corporations understand that the road to success involves patents.
“The [2019 patent] figures are notable for a few reasons. One is that this is the most patents ever granted in a single year; and the second that this represents a 15% jump on a year before.”
“The high overall number speaks to the enduring interest in safeguarding IP, while the 15% jump has to do with the fact that patent numbers actually dipped last year (down 3.5%) while the number that were filed and still in application form (not granted) was bigger than ever. If we can draw something from that, it might be that filers and the USPTO were both taking a little more time to file and process, not a reduction in the use of patents altogether.” (Tech Crunch)
Patents continue to be a way to protect your product from copycats and counterfeiters. To help you get acquainted with patents and the patent process, below are a few basics about intellectual property protection.
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.
“A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.” (USPTO)
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 intellectual property 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.
Often times, proper patent protection can mean the difference between success and failure for a hardware startup.
Our team works closely with the Hawaii State Bar Association and understands the importance of patent protection for startups. If you have a question related to patent protection, 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.
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 email@example.com
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
Technology development is happening astonishingly fast when you sit back and think about it. 3D printing, AI, VR and robotics made leaps and bounds within the last year and have experienced unprecedented growth within the last decade. Today, technology touches most aspects of our lives—from our ‘smart’ homes to our cars and everything in between.
It’s that time of the year where we start to look at what 2019 brought us and what we can expect in the new year. Below we are sharing five of our favorite technology development related ‘look back’ and ‘look ahead’ pieces.
What were the breakthrough technologies for 2019? The answer depends on who you ask. Several common themes have emerged such as cobots, emerging energy source, AI, and cybersecurity breaches.
We live in an age where new technologies hit the market almost daily. The question is will manufacturers find meaningful applications for latest advances? In some instances, it is just a matter of a new technology development hitting the market at the wrong time. In other cases, it may not make sense. When technology has staying power, it often has the ability to revolutionize how manufacturers operate.
As a snapshot of the market’s forecasted growth, the 2019 Wohlers Report — viewed by experts as a top source for the pulse of the 3D printing industry — forecasts that the market value for 2020 is $15.8 billion for all 3D printing products and services worldwide. That figure is expected to surge to $23.9 billion in 2022 and $35.6 billion in 2024. Likewise, a January forecast from Statista shows that global spending on 3D printing in 2019 is projected to be $13.8 billion, up 21.2% from a year earlier.
It’s been a busy decade in the tech space. New innovations emerged and older ones finally matured in ways that have had a major impact. The 2010s brought us the rise of 3D printing, the rebirth of VR, and an explosion in AI technologies. The health industry was all about wearables. And a digital currency gold rush made us rethink encryption.
One of the most consequential aspects of 3D printing is the capability to produce objects that often cannot be manufactured using any other existing technology. At a fundamental level, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, can consolidate parts in a single assembly. That creates unprecedented design opportunities, but to take full advantage of them, design engineers need to retool their thought process.
What technology developments do you think will have a major impact in 2020 and the next decade?
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
Our client, FOG Safe, has seen tremendous growth this past year and their FOG Safe Drain Guards should be on everyone’s holiday cooking prep list. Their drain guard is an environmentally friendly way to responsibly dispose of cooking fats, oils and grease so that they don’t cause major environmental damage.
It is an eco-friendly, convenient and hassle-free way of disposing of used cooking fats, oils and grease after making a meal. (That pan of bacon grease can now be properly disposed of and not rinsed down the sink.) The drain guard is made of recycled materials and quickly absorbs the fats, oils and grease that you pour into it directly from your cooking pan. You then simply dispose of the entire drain guard into your trash.
The FOG Safe Drain Guard keeps harmful fats, oils and grease contaminants out of your plumbing, city sewers and the environment. When cooking fats, oils and grease build up in your pipes and city sewers, they end up clogging your plumbing and sending raw sewage back into your home, neighborhood and the local environment.
See a FOG Safe Drain Guard in action over on the FOG Safe YouTube channel.
Did you know that calls to the plumber for clogged pipes peak around the holidays? This is the time of year where people are cooking large family feasts and sending items they shouldn’t down the kitchen sink drain—looking at you turkey drippings.
According to Home Advisor, the average cost for hiring a plumber is $310.
One way to ensure a clog free holiday season is by properly disposing of all fats, oils and grease after cooking a meal.
FOG Safe Drain Guards can be found in a number of retail locations in Hawaii as well as throughout the United States.
In Hawaii you can find FOG Safe Drain Guards at: Times Supermarkets, City Mill, Simply Organized, KTA Super Stores, Hardware Hawaii, Big Save Markets and Purchasing Hui of Hawaii.
FOG Safe Drain Guards are now in 90, and still growing, ACE Hardware locations throughout the United States.
Learn more about the ways in which we have assisted FOG Safe during their product development journey.
Interested in learning more about FOG Safe? Head on over to their website.
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.
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.
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.
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