Posts Tagged "innovation"

Manufacturing Technology: 3D Printing vs CNC

3D printing has undoubtedly become a tool-of-choice for makers and educators alike. The rapid growth in 3D printing technology and its popularity has manufacturers worried that at-home 3D printers may one day soon replace traditional manufacturing. From our experience though, a maker or entrepreneur is going to benefit the most from a convergence of these two manufacturing methods.

Below we will discuss the benefits and pitfalls of both 3D printing and CNC milling.

Methodology

CNC milling machines “take a block of solid material (e.g. aluminum or wood) and use sharp rotating tools or cutters to remove all parts that are not needed. Milling is a subtractive method. CNC mills are computer-controlled. The computer feeds the machine-specific code that controls the cutting tools (just like the G-code used by 3D printers). The models for CNC mills are created using 3D modeling software, so-called CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software applications.” (All3DP.com)

3D Printing starts from scratch and builds a three-dimensional product layer by layer. This technology is referred to as additive manufacturing. Just like with CNC milling machines, a computer feeds the machine specific code that controls the design process.

Material Selection

CNC mills can work on a “huge variety of materials: metal alloys (e.g. aluminum, steel alloys, brass, copper), softwoods and hardwoods, thermoplastics, acrylic, modeling foams, machining wax (for creating a positive model for casting). You may need different cutting tools for different materials, but the tool-to-machine interfaces are usually standardized—so the tools can easily be exchanged.” (All3DP.com)

At-home desktop 3D printers are usually restricted to a few materials, typically thermoplastics or resins. Thermoplastics can be mixed with other materials such as ceramics, wood, metal, but the workpieces produced on a 3D printer will not be as robust as workpieces cut from a block of metal or wood. Commercial or specialty 3D printers can print with more exotic materials (i.e. bioprinting and food).

Range of Applications

With the range of applications for these two technologies, there is a lot of overlap. (Here we will focus on the applications either technology supports, while the other does not.)

CNC milling is the better solution when you need to manufacture extremely robust, precise and/or heat-resistant products. 3D printing is the better solution when you need quick prototypes to test designs, small batch runs or are interested in exotic application fields—bioprinting, architectural purposes and printing food.

Material Waste

By design, there is less waste with 3D printing. The technology only requires the material needed for building the product. With CNC milling, you need a block of material that is the size of the product it will produce—a great deal of material is then removed, and often times the excess material cannot be recycled.

Both technologies have their place in the manufacturing landscape. Where one technology falters, the other excels. When designing your product, keep in mind that using both technologies during product development might be just what you need.

Have questions about the manufacturing process? Send us your questions, info@3d-innovations.com,we are happy to help.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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3D Academy Event: 3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO (March 20-24th)

3-d-academy-pw-spring-2017-page-001

Our 3D Academy and Play-Well TEKnologies have teamed up once again to host a 3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO enrichment camp for students. This camp is a perfect introduction to design and engineering. For the design aspect of the camp, students will have the opportunity to create their own LEGO component, and in the second half of the camp they will hone their engineering skills by creating motorized and architectural projects with LEGOS. This hands-on approach is not only fun and interactive, it also makes the abstract design and engineering concepts come to life.

View photos from our last 3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO camp on our Facebook page.

About Our ‘3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO’ Camp

Everyday students will learn the fundamentals of 3D Printing, CAD Design and Spatial Environments to create their own custom and one-of-a-kind LEGO component to take home. In the other half of camp, students will take part in Play-Well’s LEGO Engineering program and have access to over 20,000 pieces of LEGO while creating motorized and architectural projects such as Steerable Motorized Gear Cars, Pneumatic Claws, Mechanized Battle Walkers, Conveyor Belt Systems, and Towering Skyscrapers. Students will be introduced to the world of 3D Printing, CAD Design, Engineering, Physics, Architecture and prototyping all while having fun in a LEGO-centric camp environment.

  • Age Range: Grades 2nd-6th
  • Location: Manoa Innovation Center (2800 Woodlawn Drive Honolulu, HI)
  • Date: March 20-24th (M-F, Spring Break) / 9:00am-4:00pm
  • Price: $290 for 5 day Camp

Register for the Camp at www.play-well.org/hawaii

Have additional questions? Please contact Wrenn Okada at 808.221.4870 or wrenn@play-well.org for more information.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Designing & Prototyping with 3D Printing

3D Printing Services | Rapid Prototyping Services | 3D-innovationsIt’s no secret that additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) is shifting the manufacturing landscape and transforming supply chains. 3D printing is redefining how companies design, develop and manufacture products. Product designers are experiencing what it means to design without traditional limitations of design for assembly, allowing them to radically reinvent products based on performance rather than manufacturability. Below are four reasons as to why you should be integrating 3D printing into your product development lifecycle if you aren’t already.

Timelines & Budgets.

These are the biggest challenges to any product development team. Producing prototypes and delivering accurate designs to clients has never been easier than it is today with 3D printing. With a 3D printer, CAD models can become real life touchable designs in a matter of hours.

Multiple Design Iterations & Prototyping.

In product development it often takes many iterations of a product before a design is settled on. People have different ideas on how the product should look and function. While a 3D CAD model makes it easier to share design thoughts, nothing compares to holding a physical product in your hand to help communicate an idea.

Once a design has been finalized, a functional prototype is needed to help with other aspects of the business (securing funding, marketing, presentations etc.). In today’s competitive startup market, a functional prototype is no longer optional, and investors (whether VCs or through crowdfunding) want to see how your product actually works and that you have come up with something that is indeed manufacturable.

Manufacturing Flexibility.

3D printing helps reduces the capital involved in achieving economies of scale, thus lowering any barriers to entry for production. This is a major benefit for hardware startups that previously had to find funding before even approaching the idea of manufacturing their product. With 3D printing, startups can now manufacture small batches at an affordable rate and customize products based on customer demands.

Market Testing.

Gauging customer support early in the product development lifecycle is vital for success. You want to get a functional prototype in the hands of your test market as soon as possible so that you can incorporate their feedback into the design. They will be able to share insight regarding product material, product fit, weight, visual appearance and usability. Having access to a 3D printer will let you update designs quickly and communicate design changes.

While 3D printing is making quite an impact on businesses today, it is hard to remember at times that the technology is still evolving and maturing. With the evolution of 3D printing technology, we can only imagine how it will look in five or ten years.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Season’s Greetings

New_Year_2017During this special time of year, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments. Over this past year, 3D Innovations has had the privilege to partner with numerous companies on a variety of product development projects—We had the honor of helping first time entrepreneurs bring ideas to life, assist clients with IP licensing, support in the development and marketing of crowdfunding campaigns, just to name a few.

Also this year, our 3D Academy partnered with both local and national organizations to bring hands-on STEM education activities to students here in Hawaii. Being able to share our passion for engineering and introducing students to the discipline is always rewarding. We are committed as ever to strengthening the local STEM ecosystem and working hard to ensure that all students are introduced to STEM subjects and technology early-on.

As we move into 2017, we look forward to what the New Year will bring.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and all the best in the New Year!

-The 3D Innovations Team

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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3D Academy Event: 3D Printing & CAD Design Using LEGO (October 10-14th)

October 10, 2016
3D Innovations

3D Printing and CAD CampToday marks the first day of our collaborative “3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO” event with Play-Well TEKnologies. Our 3D Academy team is excited to kickoff this event and to teach engineering and design principals to students through interactive play.

This is a week-long camp where students will learn the fundamentals of 3D Printing, CAD Design and Spatial Environments to create their own custom and one-of-a-kind LEGO component to take home.

What is Play-Well TEKnologies?

Play-Well TEKnologies hosts LEGO-inspired engineering classes for kids (Kindergarten through 8th grade).

A little more about Play-Well TEKnologies:

  • We teach approximately 100,000 students per year. We run our engineering programs in approximately 23 states, as well as in France.
  • We have outstanding instructors. They teach year-round and make the curriculum their own, so that each program is a uniquely fun experience.
  • We bring A LOT of LEGO®. With over 20,000 pieces in each class/camp, and hundreds of projects, there is no limit to what you can build.
  • We teach through play, explore, solve problems, and express ourselves through LEGO. Our curriculum is designed by engineers and refined by teachers, but the kids just think it’s fun!
What is 3D Academy?

Our 3D Academy is a division of 3D Innovations and specializes in developing and integrating industry technologies with STEM education.

3D Academy promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education programs that integrate 3D Technology into K–12, as well as university classrooms. Using hands-on and project based learning strategies, we have been effective in providing students with opportunities to excel in the areas of STEM and to integrate industry applications into their learning experiences.

We will be sharing event updates and photos throughout the week on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Also, keep up-to-date on future events by checking out our 3D Academy website.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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3D Academy: Bridging The Gap Between Education & Industry

October 5, 2016
3D Innovations

We have been hard at work revamping our 3D Academy website and invite you to check it out. As an engineering and product development firm we understand the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and want to help students actively engage with these subjects while fostering a love of learning.

Meet Lulu! The introductory video on the 3D Academy website follows Lulu’s journey from high school student to mechanical engineer. Learn about the programs she participated in and how 3D Academy helped her harness her talent and realize her dreams.

What is 3D Academy?

Our 3D Academy is a division of 3D Innovations and specializes in developing and integrating industry technologies with STEM education.

drone academy 3D3D Academy promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education programs that integrate 3D Technology into K–12, as well as university classrooms. Using hands-on and project based learning strategies, we have been effective in providing students with opportunities to excel in the areas of STEM and to integrate industry applications into their learning experiences.

Our core program utilizes 3D CAD and takes students through the entire design process (design, prototyping and manufacturing). When integrated into school curriculum, our STEM education programs provides students with opportunities to solve real world design problems, engage with industry standard technology, and transform concepts into reality. Our education programs have been integrated with many robotics programs such as FIRST, UROV, BotBall, and First Lego League. Programs are both customizable and scalable to meet various applications and grade levels.

Education Programs We Provide

The programs we offer bridge the gap between education and industry. Our hands on learning approach invite students to tackle a real-world problem, test theories, build upon these theories and design their own solutions. We teach them the skills needed to succeed and watch as they put these skills to use in their everyday activities.

  • Digital Media + IET + Engineering Academies: Learn 3D modeling programs such as SketchUp, Solidworks, and Autodesk products to design, develop, and build digital designs.  Transform digital designs into engineering projects to further develop STEM skills.
  • Robotics + Project Based Learning + Drones: Utilize the Engineering Design Process to design custom robotics systems for competitions such as Vex/FIRST Robotics, and others.  Learn about electro-mechanical system design using Drones and other Project Based Learning activities.
  • 3D Printing + K-12 Programs + 3D Printing Curriculum: Get students excited about STEM.  Use 3D Printing technologies to integrate with new or existing projects that let students develop their own parts.  Our projects can be integrated for a wide range of grade levels and topics or use our specific curriculum to focus on 3D Printing.
  • Custom Program: We are also available to help in the development of a custom program to meet the needs of your students and teachers.

Experience the benefits of STEM education and see what 3D Academy can do for you. Contact us today at info@3d-innovations.com or by phone at 808.722.8667

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Hardware Startups: The Challenges of Scaling Up

September 28, 2016
3D Innovations
IP Licensing

Most entrepreneurs start out hitting the ground running and want to take their idea, build upon it, and scale it quickly; however, scaling hardware startups come with unique sets of challenges to consider. Growing any business has inherent obstacles and the basics must be considered, such as: funding, talent and competition—hardware startups also need to take into account additional vital aspects, such as: sourcing, manufacturing and intellectual property. Scaling is a tricky task—scale too quickly and you can get in over your head, scale too slowly and you risk losing momentum and opportunities.  Below are some common pitfalls to avoid when scaling your hardware startup.

Losing touch with your customer.

When you are growing a company it is imperative that you keep your current customers happy. These are the customers that have made it possible for you to scale your business in the first place and you don’t want to let them down with poor customer service now. It is also extremely easy to start to get “sloppy” as you introduce new product versions or product lines, and these errors will whittle away at your customer retention. The core elements of a successful business are customers and products, so even in times of growth, both should be at the front of your mind.

Manufacturer sourcing.

Manufacturing can be the Achilles heel for hardware startups. One misstep in the vetting process or in contract development with a manufacturer and your business can sink. If you don’t have experience going through the contract manufacturing sourcing process, it is critical to find advisors or consultants that have. You are going to want to embrace competition and have multiple manufacturers bidding on your project. Your meetings with manufacturers are as much about pitching to them to get them excited about your project, as it is about doing your due diligence on their facilities and experience.

Streamlining a strategy.

At the beginning, your hardware startup will have one goal in mind: To successfully develop a product and get it onto store shelves. All team members will work towards this single goal on a daily basis. As you begin scale, your strategy and goals will transform, change and multiply. The fluidity of your new goals can make it hard for founders to take their mindset from that of laser-focused product development to business high-level. As your list of goals begins to grow, your strategy will shift to taking the top three or four-high level goals and focus teams accordingly.

Scaling a business is rewarding. Taking the time now to plan and prepare for sustainable growth will serve your startup well.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Upcoming 3D Academy Event: 3D Printing & CAD Design Using LEGO (October 10-14th)

September 14, 2016
3D Innovations

3D Printing and CAD CampPlay-Well TEKnologies and 3D Academy collaborate to create an in depth and immersive camp experience for your child through the “3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO®” program.

Everyday students will learn the fundamentals of 3D Printing, CAD Design and Spatial Environments to create their own custom and one-of-a-kind LEGO component to take home. In the other half of camp, students will take part in Play-Well’s LEGO Engineering program and have access to over 20,000 pieces of LEGO while creating motorized and architectural projects such as Steerable Motorized Gear Cars, Pneumatic Claws, Mechanized Battle Walkers, Conveyor Belt Systems, and Towering Skyscrapers. Students will be introduced to the world of 3D Printing, CAD Design, Engineering, Physics, Architecture and prototyping all while having fun in a LEGO-centric camp environment.

Visit www.play-well.org or contact Wrenn Okada at 808.221.4870 or wrenn@play-well.org for more information.

3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO
  • Grades K-2nd & 3rd-6th (Two Age Groups)
  • Manoa Innovation Center (2800 Woodlawn Drive)
  • October 10-14 (M-F, Fall Break) / 9:00am-4:00pm
  • Price: $260 for 5 day Camp

Register online at www.play-well.org/hawaii

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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Five Questions to Ask a Potential Product Development Partner

September 12, 2016
3D Innovations

product developmentFinding the right product development partner to assist you as you take an idea from concept to product is a major undertaking—and can often be the difference between success and failure.  Product development is a collaborative endeavor, and you want to have a team that is able to clearly communicate, develop and deliver your product on time and on budget.

Here are the five key questions that you need to ask while searching for the right product development company.

How will we define clear requirements?

It’s crucial to be able to clearly define the goals of the engagement early-on. Many times entrepreneurs will need to set these goals before talking with product development firms, so that they are in a better position when asking for, and comparing, proposals.  Depending on the scope of the project, a firm might ask the client to engage in a preliminary “discovery” phase to gather all baseline requirements before submitting a formal proposal. This “discovery” phase is most often used when there is extensive research or testing involved.

What is your related expertise?

Are you looking for a partner that has experience in a particular field, a specialty or quick turnaround? Lay out the characteristics of your ideal firm and begin your search with this criteria in mind. Be cognizant of the fact that you may not find a firm that meets all of your criteria perfectly. It is best to approach companies that are suited to projects your size—a firm with 500 employees might not be an ideal match for an entrepreneur with a $30,000 budget.

How well do you adapt to change?

There is no doubt that the product development path is fraught with obstacles and challenges. A firm that is able to be flexible will serve you well. Flexibility is important for a number of reasons—scope-of-work, design and deadline changes occur frequently and you don’t want each change to be a “battle” between you and the firm.

What method do you use for setting deliverables?

A common understanding of deliverables is necessary to demonstrate results. A lack of agreement on deliverable from the onset is a big factor in dissatisfaction from both parties. Without set deliverables, debates about quality and expectations are bound to happen—which leads to frustration and wasted time.

For example: Is a prototype a required deliverable? If so, do you need it to be a proof-of-concept, or a functional model? Going into details such as this will help clarify deliverables for both parties.

What will our acceptance criteria be?

Breaking larger projects into phases is common and payments can be contingent on the phase being “complete”, therefore both parties need a clear understanding of what “complete” means. This leads back to deliverables—have they been met and are both parties satisfied that they were met in a complete manner? Scheduling final review meetings are an easy way to stay on track with deliverables and to know when each phase has been completed.

The above questions will not only help you find a product development partner, but will set the foundation for a successful, productive and profitable relationship. In the end, you want to get your idea off the drawing board and into the marketplace on time and on budget.

*If you are searching for a product development partner for your next project, contact us at info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

Subscribe to the 3D Innovations newsletter on our Facebook page!

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Hardware Startups: Can I Patent My Invention?

August 29, 2016
3D Innovations

IP_patentA patent for your invention is useful, in that it gives you exclusive rights to the idea/product (for twenty years), allows you to license the invention and provides a strong market position. However, to obtain a patent your invention must meet certain criteria. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself in determining whether your invention is patentable.

  1. Did you invent it? A patent can only be applied for by the actual inventor or co-inventor. If you were not the inventor, but contributed financially, you will not be able to patent the product on your own. If the inventor was employed by another person or company to develop the invention, the patent will still be issued under the inventor’s name. However, ownership of the patent will be with the employer.
  2. Is your invention useful? Under U.S. law the invention must be “useful” to be eligible for protection. To meet this requirement the product must provide some benefit and is capable of use. It is important to note that most inventions meet this criteria.
  3. Is your invention “non-obvious”? If your product is already common knowledge in its field, then it would not meet this requirement. This determination is made by deciding whether the invention sought to be patented would have been obvious “to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains”. Determination of whether a particular change or improvement is “obvious” is one of the most difficult determinations in patent law.
  4. Does it fall under a patentable category? Patents are available for processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and improvements to any of those classes. If your idea is in regards to laws of nature, physical phenomena, abstract ideas or non-useful objects, it will not be eligible for a patent.
  5. Has your invention been disclosed to the public? If so, your invention will not be patentable. This requirement states that your idea must be “new” and not discussed publicly prior to the date of the filing. If you invention has been made available for public use or disclosed in a prior patent application it will not be eligible for a patent.

Have additional questions regarding the patent process? We highly recommend a visit to the USPTO website. We are also able to help answer any questions you may have, please e-mail them to info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Startup Connector is a Manufacturing Accelerator helping companies commercialize—turning ideas into products.

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