Posts Tagged "manufacturing"

When it comes to product design let creativity shine.

When it Comes to Product Design, Let Creativity Shine

When it comes to product design let creativity shine.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

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

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 boxway 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, 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.

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Questions to ask potential product development partners.

Questions for Potential Product Development Partners

Questions to ask potential product development partners.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.

Do you have experience relevant to my project?

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.

Can you work from idea through manufacturing?

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.

 What prototyping services do you offer?

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.

Do you offer manufacturing assistance?

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, 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.

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3D printing, or additive manufacturing, allows for complex designs.

3D Printing: Discover New Design Possibilities

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, allows for complex designs.3D printing technology, also referred to as additive manufacturing, allows you to explore design possibilities without typical design constraints. This means that new shapes and figures that are not easily manufactured, or that are impossible to manufacture with traditional manufacturing methods, are now within the realm of possibility. Complex geometries, quick turnaround times and customization are a few of the main reasons that 3D printing has risen to popularity among a number of top industries: aerospace, automobile, dentistry and medical industries have all embraced additive manufacturing technology.

If you are wondering if 3D printing could benefit your project or business, here are a few points to consider:

Do you have a complex product design?

One of the primary advantages of 3D printing is that you can break traditional manufacturing barriers with your product design. With 3D printing technology, complex geometries, internal features and built-in interlocking objects with no assembly required are all possible. With these additional design capabilities, additive manufacturing creates new product design opportunities.

Do you need a highly customized part?

Customization is the “sweet spot” for additive manufacturing. If you need a one-off customized part, 3D printing will most likely provide you with the quickest turnaround and best cost efficiency—depending on size of course.

Are you looking for small batch manufacturing?

3D printing isn’t quite at the mass manufacturing scale yet, but it can certainly help with small batch manufacturing. If you need just a few parts or pieces for a project, 3D printing can certainly be of assistance.

Are you at the prototyping phase of product development?

Additive manufacturing is an excellent option for initial prototypes. You can get a physical prototype in hours, refine the design and print again. It will take a few iterations to get it just how you are imagining it. Startups all over the globe are now turning towards additive manufacturing technology at various stages of product development—low cost and quick turnaround times make it ideal for budget-conscious hardware startups.

The additive manufacturing industry is continuing to grow and mature. Metal 3D printing, increased productivity and material selection are all areas that have seen rapid growth in recent years. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the technology and take advantage of what it has to offer.

Have additional questions about 3D printing for your product or business? Please send us an email at info@3d-innovations.com and we are happy to answer your questions.

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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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Intellectual property protection for startups during the manufacturing phase is necessary.

Intellectual Property Protection During Manufacturing

Intellectual property protection for a startup during manufacturing is necessary.Protecting intellectual property (IP) is important to any business, but especially so when you are launching a startup. Often your IP’s security can mean the difference between a viable business and a startup failure. That is why protecting your IP during the manufacturing phase of product development is critically important. Below we examine the IP security pros and cons of domestic v. international manufacturing for your hardware startup.

Domestic Manufacturing

When it comes to manufacturing your product in the U.S. there are many benefits, such as: ease of access, clear communication, fast fulfillment, reduced shipping fees and IP security.

When you hold a patent in the United States and decide to also manufacture here, you are guaranteed a certain level of security that your startup’s IP won’t be stolen. However, if for some reason this security breaks down, you have legal recourse for the damages.

International Manufacturing

When it comes to manufacturing your product abroad there are certain advantages that can make monetary sense for your startup: reduced costs, high-volume capacity and increased manufacturer partner options. However, IP protection is not one of the benefits.

If your invention is protected in the U.S. with a patent, trademark or copyright, these protections are not guaranteed overseas. Patenting an invention in the U.S. is not necessarily quick and it can be costly—the same goes for international patents. Often startups don’t have the funds to allocate to international patent protection. However, there are other ways to protect your IP in a foreign market.

  • Contractual Security

A well written and carefully constructed non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can protect IP from the onset. Clauses covering IP security can be included to establish clear ownership.

  • Implementing Security Measures

Restricting the number of individuals that have access to your product’s IP and conducting background checks on key personnel can help keep your IP safeguarded. Encrypting all digital files and communication that contain IP is another measure you can take to protect it.

  • Intellectual Property Insurance

You can transfer some of your IP risk by acquiring insurance. Intellectual Property Insurance typically protects against the significant legal costs that will need to be paid if an organization pursues its IP claims through the court system. It can cover both enforcing and defending claims. (Source: Trade Ready)

As President Lincoln once remarked, the patent system adds “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.” IP rights, which include patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights play an essential role in monetizing innovation. (Inc.)

Related articles of interest:

Have additional IP and manufacturing related questions? Send us an email 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.

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This is what inventors need to know about licensing agreements.

Licensing Agreement Basics for Startups

This is what inventors need to know about licensing agreements.For many inventors a licensing agreement is often a great option since it lets them develop a product, but then puts the expenses associated with commercialization on a more experienced manufacturer.

What is a licensing agreement?

A licensing agreement is a deal between the owner of a patent, brand, or trademark and someone who wants to use the patented or trademarked goods and services. (Upcounsel)

With a licensing agreement, an inventor (the licensor) develops an invention and then protects that invention through a patent, copyright, trademark, or trade secret, and thus creates intellectual property (IP). The inventor—the owner of the intellectual property—then licenses the invention to a second party (the licensee) whose responsibility is to commercialize the invention. As compensation for allowing another party to use its intellectual property, the licensor will receive a royalty.

There are many types of licensing agreements: trademark licensing, copyright licensing, patent licensing, software licensing and merchandise licensing. Intellectual property licensors use three main types of licensing agreements: exclusive license, non-exclusive license and sole license. (Read about each type on Upcounsel)

The Main Benefits of a Licensing Agreement

Globalization has made licensing agreements a very popular option for businesses and inventors. Often, licensing is a strategic way of entering international markets. A foreign company will obtain rights to produce and/or sell another company’s product in its home country.

Below is a list of the top benefits of licensing your invention/IP.

  • The licensor (inventor) does not have to finance the commercialization process.
  • The licensor avoids the need to create and operate a company.
  • The invention will most likely get to market faster because a larger, more experienced company is handling the manufacturing and commercialization.
  • The invention may reach more markets if the licensee is a large, well-funded enterprise.
  • The licensor retains ownership of the intellectual property.
  • It creates passive income for the licensor.

Overall, licensing agreements minimize risk for both parties involved. The licensor doesn’t have to setup a business and incur those additional expenses and the licensee doesn’t have to spend time on product development and testing.

Suggestions for Securing a Licensing Agreement
  • Assess the complexity of your product. Is there a way to get a working version developed without extensive costs? 3D printing/additive manufacturing is a frequently used method to get a functional prototype ready because of its speed and the reduced costs associated with the technology.
  • Identify manufacturers. Find out which manufacturers currently sell product lines to large retailers where you can see that your product would be a good fit.
  • Create a functional prototype. Create a functional prototype of your product and pitch retail buyers. The goal is to get a commitment before you actually launch. You can possibly even offer them a few months of launch exclusivity. The mock-up of your packaging is also critically important. Your product must look as retail ready as possible.
  • Setup a meeting with an IP attorney. The attorney will be able to go over the legal aspects of the licensing agreement with you and help come up with a plan that best suits your needs.
  • Approach the identified manufacturers. If you want to get the attention of a manufacturer, before you even talk about your product, pitch the prospect your new customer, growing sales or the commitment from a major buyer. You’ll get an appointment, and your product has a better chance of moving to the front of the line in the new product development funnel.

Read our Case Study that details how our team worked on turning a consumer product idea into a manufacturable product for licensing to a large international retailer.

Have additional questions about licensing agreements for inventors? Please send us an email at info@3d-innovations.com

Articles Referenced:

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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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Understanding your market segment is important for startup success.

Hardware Startups: Knowing Your Market Segment

Understanding your market segment is important for startup success.The key to a successful product launch and sustainable business success, is knowing the market segment you are launching your product into. An understanding of the market will provide insight into the competition, best distribution methods, customer acquisition and manufacturing methodology. According to the popular book, “The Startup Owner’s Manual” there are three types of markets.

Established Market

Entering an established market means that the competition is strong. Often the best way for a hardware startup to make a splash in this market segment is by offering a premium product. “Companies succeed by building premium brands, having sustainably better technology, or being close to their costs of production. The headphone market is a great example here: Think Beats (premium brand) vs. Bose (better tech) vs AmazonBasics (closest to costs of production).” (Bolt)

New Market

Some of the most creative products of today started in a completely new market—think Apple iPod & iPhone. While competition is low, failure rate is high. When you are the first in a new market segment you have to pioneer new distribution channels, find your customer base, work hard to establish product/market fit and educate the market. According to “The Startup Owner’s Manual”, startups in this market won’t spend heavily on marketing and sales since you are not yet sure that a customer base exists yet.

You hear the term “pivot” quite a bit regarding startups, and that is what many startups find themselves doing when entering a completely new market. Your product is very likely to change to meet consumer demands.

Re-segmented Market

This is the most common market segment for startups to launch a product into. Your product will either re-segment via low cost or re-segment via niche. If you are aiming for low-cost you have a product that has less frills yet still adequately meets customer demands but at a lower price point. “In other hardware markets, startups work in product categories that users already understand, but focus on a niche that really appeals to a small subset of users.” (Bolt) With a niche product, you are aiming to launch a product that is intriguing enough for brand loyalists to switch over to your product.

When it comes to the re-segmented market, you do not have to completely educate the market since your competition has spent time doing that. However, you do have to adequately educate them as to why your product is not only different, but why they need it.

Startups that have a clear idea on the type of market segment they are entering will be in a better position when it comes time to launch their product.

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3D printing expands product design possibilities

Is 3D Printing Right for Your Project?

3D printing expands product design possibilities3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a technology that has expanded product design possibilities and manufacturing capabilities. While 3D printing can certainly help as you work your way through the product development process, it also has its limitations. Below are a few factors to help you determine if 3D printing is a good fit for your next project.

Are you building a prototype?

3D printing is an excellent option for initial prototypes. You can get a physical prototype in hours, refine the design and print again. It will take a few iterations to get it just how you are imagining it. Startups all over the globe are now turning towards additive manufacturing technology at various stages of product development—low cost and quick turnaround times make it ideal for budget conscious hardware startups.

Eventually you will want to build a functional prototype for design validation and testing, and additive manufacturing can help with this as well.

Do you have a complex design?

One of the primary advantages of 3D printing is that you can break traditional manufacturing barriers with your product design. With 3D printing technology, complex geometries, internal features and built-in interlocking objects with no assembly required are all possible. With these additional design capabilities, additive manufacturing creates new product design opportunities.

Do you need customer feedback?

Gathering customer feedback during the product development process is always a good idea. Show potential customers your product design, let them hold it, test it and then incorporate their feedback. Remember that the feedback is going to help you build the product customers want, so the design will most likely change a bit to accommodate customer needs. Additive manufacturing allows you to quickly print a visual prototype that you can show to your target market for feedback. You can quickly incorporate their feedback and print another prototype.

Are you looking for small batch manufacturing?

3D printing isn’t quite at the mass manufacturing scale yet, but it can certainly help with small batch manufacturing. If you need just a few parts or pieces for a project, 3D printing can certainly be of assistance.

Do you need a customized part?

Customization is the “sweet spot” for additive manufacturing. The automobile, aerospace and dental industries have been utilizing 3D printing’s customization ability for years now. If you need a one-off customized part, 3D printing will most likely provide you with the quickest turnaround and best cost efficiency—depending on size of course.

Additive manufacturing is constantly evolving and so are its capabilities. As design software advances and material selection increases, 3D printing will continue to shift the manufacturing landscape and prove that it is a very useful tool for professionals and makers alike.

Are you still not sure if 3D printing is right for your project? Go ahead and send us an email, info@3d-innovations.com so we can talk further about your design and manufacturing needs.

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Patent protection is critical for startup success.

Innovation and Patent Protection for Startups

Patent protection is critical for startup success.Patent protection is critical for startups today—technology and globalization have made it easier than ever to find, steal and patent invention ideas. Patents provide you with a way to protect your invention from other individuals that may want to commercialize it without your authorization. From the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):

“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.”

“The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or ‘importing’ the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.”

Make: Magazine recently published an article, “Patent Pandas: How One Maker Is Turning Her Horrible Experience Into a Force for Good”. It is a real and very telling story of how a person, actually a crowdfunding backer, stole an idea from a crowdfunding website and later tried to sell the invalid patent back to the original inventor. Unfortunately, stealing and patenting ideas that are not your own has become big business.

Patent law is complicated, and it is always best to consult with an attorney. However, we have compiled a list of resources below to get you started as you begin looking into the process of patent protection.

Crowdfunding Backer Patented My Project (Patent Panda)

I never thought about patents much. I just wanted to make stuff and share it with others. Then one day someone else patented my work.  So what happened?  And what did I learn?  Well, first off, don’t panic!

General Information Concerning Patents (USPTO)

Some people confuse patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Although there may be some similarities among these kinds of intellectual property protection, they are different and serve different purposes.

Navigating IP on the Path to Commercialization

Patents are a critical factor for sustainable success. Whether you are at the helm of a startup that plans on crowdfunding a product or a SME working on a new and innovative technology, securing and protecting your intellectual property (IP) rights to that invention is key to successful commercialization.

IP Watchdog

This website is managed by Gene Quinn, a patent attorney with decades of experience. The articles on the website touch on a number of patent issues and provide in-depth education opportunities.

How to Prepare for Your First Patent Attorney Meeting

Most hardware startups find themselves thinking about intellectual property early-on and wondering if it is truly necessary for their invention. If you are planning to manufacture your product abroad, considering a crowdfunding campaign, wanting to speak with potential investors or find yourself constantly worrying about someone copying your invention, then meeting with a patent attorney is a great idea. In many cases, having a design or utility patent will be beneficial for your startup in the long-run.

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, we are happy to help. Please send us an email with your questions, info@3d-innovations.com.

Additional Intellectual Property Articles from 3D Innovations

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3D design and 3D models are critical for efficient manufacturing.

The Importance of 3D Design for (Efficient) Manufacturing

3D design and 3D models are critical for efficient manufacturing.When you are ready to take your prototype and turn it into a real-world product, be sure that your 3D design files are also ready to go. A CAD file is either a digital 2D or 3D model of your product. When you start reaching out to manufacturers, most of the time they will ask to see your 3D design before moving forward with a manufacturing consultation and quote. “Without some idea of size, number of cavities, complexity, shape, and design, a manufacturer cannot accurately advise on the manufacturability of your product or help you choose the right materials and color.” (Extreme Molding)

3D Design Saves Time

Making sure that the manufacturer has the most detailed information possible about your product helps ensure that you are receiving an accurate quote and that there are fewer potential manufacturing issues down the road.

“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 the manufacturer a greater sense of the product. It can even reveal internal features of a part if it cannot be seen clearly on a manufacturing drawing. Aside from these benefits, using CAD makes it possible to simulate the movement of a part through production processes.” (Vista Industrial)

3D Design Reduces Material Waste

“CAD files enables the manufacturer to check tool paths before any material is cut. The ability to run a simulation and so verify the complete machining process in a virtual environment is critical for keeping waste and scrap to a minimum. This may be crucial on some jobs, such as those using expensive alloys, large material-intensive components, or for those with complex geometry. Other verification advantages that result from less scrap include less energy consumption and reduced tool wear.

CAD simulations also enable you and the manufacturer to identify how long the production run time will take. Clearly this is useful for scheduling, as well as the planning of throughput, material supply and delivery. As the 3D model is the source of the manufacturing data, the design intent is preserved, and the dimensional accuracy is retained.” (Advice Manufacturing)

3D Design Allows for Ongoing Communication

If your product design needs to be adjusted to meet design or manufacturing needs, this can easily be accomplished within a digital CAD file. Since the CAD files are transferred electronically, you are assured that both you, your product design team and the manufacturer all have the same information moving forward.

“CAD systems also facilitate communication among those involved in design, manufacturing, and other processes. This is of particular importance when one firm contracts another to either design or produce a component.” (Inc.)

In today’s manufacturing environment, CAD files are a necessity. A 3D design allows you to evaluate the form, fit, and functionality of your product. The design will also verify tolerance, loads, stresses and optimize manufacturability. If you plan on filing for IP rights or patent protection, a CAD file will help clearly communicate the design to your attorney and those reviewing your patent application.

Have additional product development questions? Please send them our way, info@3d-innovations.com

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Insight into the first steps in hardware product development.

How Hardware Startups Succeed—Planning & Research

Hardware startups succeed with proper planning and research.The month of December is often a quiet time for businesses, and yes, even hardware startups. Right now, businesses everywhere are working to close out 2018, finalizing budgets and forecasts for 2019 as well as taking time off to enjoy the holidays. Your emails are going to receive a higher than average, “Out of Office” reply and your voicemail messages will take a bit longer to be responded to—it’s the December lull. The next two weeks tend to be quiet, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make this time useful. Below are four ways hardware startups can use holiday “downtime” to their advantage.

Develop a Product Requirements Document

If you are just getting off the ground, you are going to need to start this. However, if your hardware startup is up and going, you will want to refine this. Either way, a Product Requirements Document (PRD), is good for business. According to Bolt VC, a PRD adds a tons of value in a few strategic areas: aligning your team, seeing around corners and constraining the design.

Professional Tip: Don’t let your PRD become too cumbersome, the documents that are short and direct are often the most beneficial.

Design a Marketing Plan

Products don’t sell themselves. Maybe you had some buzz around your crowdfunding campaign, you beat your funding goal and now you believe that your product will be flying off shelves—wrong. You need a marketing strategy. Whether you are a one-man operation or there are a handful of people working on your startup—your hardware startup needs a go-to market strategy. Top hardware startups have a solid marketing strategy that is easily communicated.

Professional Tip: This Forbes Marketing Plan template is an oldie but goodie. It has amassed almost four million views since 2013. It’s a clear marketing roadmap that helps you sculpt a true vision of where you see your business going.

Research Partnerships

Product development, manufacturing, distributors, retail, channel partners—all of these need to be thoroughly researched and vetted. Take these next two weeks of December to look into potential partnerships and ideal partners. Learn all you can about them, write questions down, research their past and current clients, try to schedule a meeting—all of this research and face-time will payoff.

Here are a few good business articles to consider:

Asses Past Goals & Make New Ones

Millions of people now are actively making their goals for the New Year—your hardware startup should be doing the same. Top hardware startups take time to define measurable goals. Take time to critically assess your 2018 goals—what went right, where did you misstep, where did you excel, how can you do better in 2019 and beyond? After you have gone through those goals, set new ones and make sure you have a system in place to keep you on track.

Professional Tip: Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) goals can help you evaluate the goals you wish to set. Think about whether they are realistic. You should write down your goals in your business plan to help keep you on track to achieve them. (Australian Government—Business)

Take time now to plan ahead and align your startup up for success in the New Year.

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