Product of the Week: Girls Driving for a Difference (Design Studio on Wheels)

February 27, 2015
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We know that our “product” this week Girls Driving for a Difference (A Design Studio on Wheels) is not an actual product per se. In sticking with National Engineers Week, we have decided to feature a group of motivated young ladies wanting to make a difference by bringing the concept of “Design Thinking” to middle-school aged girls. This type of “out-of-the-box” critical thinking is a skill that future engineers will need to succeed. Our President and Chief 3D Printing Officer, Collin Kobayashi, has experience as a mentoring coach for the Design Thinking Hawaii Boot Camp and knows how important this kind of education can be.

design_thinkingThese four Stanford women have STEM education backgrounds and, just as important, a passion for empowering young women to find their voice and become leaders. This group plans on driving across the country this summer and hold two-hour long workshops that focus on design thinking and leadership skills in ten different cities and at least fifty communities but, have turned to Kickstarter to help with funding for supplies, preparation and travel expenses. We commend their passion and drive and, this is why we are featuring them as our “Product of the Week”.

“Our team of four Stanford students will be driving an RV across the United States for ten weeks, visiting young women’s communities (specifically camps and organizations for middle school girls), and coaching design thinking and leadership workshops! These workshops are crafted to give girls the tools, inspiration, and creative confidence to explore their purpose, enact social change in their communities, and envision their own dreams for someday changing the world.”

Learn more about Girls Driving for a Difference on Kickstarter or the official website. You can also follow the group on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

3D Academy, A Division of 3D Innovations, LLC provides training services specializing in 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D Printing Technology.

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3D Printing… A Tax Credit?

February 25, 2015
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Is your company currently using additive manufacturing (a/k/a 3D printing) for research and experimentation? If so, you may qualify for the federal R&D tax credit.

prototype-3d-printing-innovations-100Additive Manufacturing (AM) is used throughout the entire product development lifecycle. Today the technology is used to help company’s visualize product concepts, prototype, refine designs and manufacture final products. “Through quick and cheap cycles of trial and error, manufacturers can tackle a number of situations including: printing a widget just-in-time that solves a problem at hand, producing small batches of widgets, producing tools, showing an artifact to a potential customer or investor to demonstrate a product concept, and supporting the engineering of product usability or manufacture (NIST MEP).” The experimentation needed to refine designs in order to meet the criteria for the final product takes time and costs money.

Whether you are using additive manufacturing technology in-house or working with an engineering design firm, experimentation is being completed. This product experimentation could fulfill the four part test required for the federal R&D tax credit.

Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  1. New or improved products, processes, or software
  2. Technological in nature
  3. Elimination of uncertainty
  4. Process of experimentation

*Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost of testing, contract research expenses, and costs associated with developing a patent.

By tracking the expenses related to your research, while you are actually performing the R&D, means that these expenses may qualify for the federal tax credit. Labor costs are usually one of the largest expenses, so keep time sheets for anyone doing research with notations about what research they conducted and when it was done. A professional tax expert will be able to provide you with additional information about the R&D tax credit and assess whether your research qualifies.

If you are considering additive manufacturing for your business, this tax credit might be just the incentive to help get you started.

For additional information about the R&D Tax Credit:

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Product of the Week: Magnetic

February 20, 2015
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magneticOur featured product this week, Magnetic, is reinventing the post-it note to meet our modern day demands. Even through we live in a high tech world many of us still rely on traditional post-it notes on a daily basis. Whether you are writing reminders to yourself, messages for co-workers or tasks for your children these paper notes are still an important part of our daily lives. Tesla Amazing has invented Magnetic, a note that can stick to ANY surface without the use of pins, glue, buttons, or thumb tacks. Magnetic is also reusable and once you are done with them you can easily recycle them. It is true that most amazing products involve finding the solution (or a better solution) to a simple everyday issue such as this one.

“Meet the Magnetic family: Magnetic Notes, Magnetic Pads, Magnetic Boards, and Magnetic Sheets. All Magnetic products are based on stable static charge, which lets them stick to any dry surface. Magnetic has no glue, so it’s completely movable and replaceable. Enjoy visualizing your ideas, brainstorming in teams, and leaving messages. Now THAT’S a convenient and fun way to communicate!”

This campaign is quickly gaining popularity on Kickstarter and has already surpassed the initial funding goal.

Learn more about the Magnetic product family on Kickstarter or by following Tesla Amazing on Twitter.

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Product of the Week: PhillUp

February 13, 2015
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With little ones around the house dishes, clutter and overall messiness seems to multiply at an exponential pace. The PhillUp, a hangable kid cup, aims to cut down on dishes and kitchen clutter. This color coded cup can be attached safely and securely on your refrigerator or other hard surface so that kids can have access to it (to both use it and put it away). We really appreciate how this design team saw an everyday problem and took the steps to remedy it. This really is how most brilliant products get their start.

phillup“It all starts with an idea…an idea that life could be made to be more simple and less cluttered. At Puj, we strive to design products that are so simple and so clever that when people see them for the first time they will say, ‘That is brilliant!’.  We are happy to say, we think we have done it again with PhillUp. This system grew out of our experience with kids leaving out cups and covering the counter tops despite our best efforts.”

On the PhillUp Kickstarter page you can also see how many prototypes and design changes were made until they landed on this design. The dedication really shows in the final product.

Learn more about PhillUp on Kickstarter or the Puj website. You can also follow the company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property

February 11, 2015
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The intellectual property of your business is a serious matter and must be protected. Product Design & Development (PD&D) recently shared an article, 5 Ways to Protect Intellectual Property, that provides helpful insight into the main topics that need to be covered in a strategic alliance agreement.

There are five topics that should be covered in any agreement where intellectual property is involved:

  1. ip-3d-printing-innovations-100Ownership of Intellectual Property: Frequently, one or more of the parties is bringing pre-existing intellectual property to the partnership. It is important to specifically identify and reserve its ownership within the contract.
  2. Licenses to Intellectual Property: Commercializing the new development will also require some cross-licensing of intellectual property rights and should cover both pre-existing and new intellectual property. These licenses need to be carefully tailored to the particular rights that the licensee needs.
  3. Responsibility for Obtaining and Maintaining Patents: Patents are an important part of intellectual property protection. Joint development agreements should include detailed provisions about which party will take the lead in obtaining and maintaining them.
  4. Responsibility for Prosecuting Infringers: It is often easier to agree to the allocation of responsibility and cooperation prior to an infringement, rather than after the infringement has occurred.
  5. Term and Termination: It is tricky to unwind a product collaboration if intellectual property is jointly owned. So careful thought during negotiations and drafting can prevent problems if the agreement terminates.

All strategic alliance agreements are unique in their own way but, when intellectual property is involved these five points are critical and should be included in the final agreement.

We invite you to read the full article on the PD&D website.

Below are a few additional articles that provide helpful intellectual property and patent information…

If you have additional intellectual property or patent questions please feel free to contact us at info@3d-innovations.com

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Product of the Week: Coordimate

February 6, 2015
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Here at 3D Innovations we are big proponents of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. We understand the importance of STEM subjects and the need to encourage more students to enter STEM fields after college. On Kickstarter we recently came across a product, Coordimate, that will take some of the “grunt work” out of math, economics and engineering classes. This ingenious product quickly and accurate prints out a Cartesian graph so you can spend more time solving the problem and less time worrying about the design of your graph. We all know how critical accuracy can be when solving math equations and the Coordimate would be a great companion to have to ensure the most accurate answer. This product would be fantastic for middle school students and all the way up to graduate students.

coordimate“I wanted to create a tool that could produce a Cartesian graph with the push of a button, as an alternative to redrawing it over and over again.” Five prototypes later and the Coordimate is now ready for production.

Learn more about Coordimate on Kickstarter and the official website. You can also follow the company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

3D Academy, A Division of 3D Innovations, LLC provides training services specializing in 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D Printing Technology.

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Optimizing Design for 3D Printing (CADSpeed Interview)

February 1, 2015
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Recently Collin Kobayashi, President & Chief 3D Officer of 3D Innovations, was interviewed by CADSpeed. The CADSpeed blog is the brainchild of Cadalyst magazine and is “devoted to helping CAD users, CAD managers, and IT personnel optimize hardware for 3D CAD applications”. In the interview Collin discusses the emergence of 3D printing and the challenges facing a CAD designer when they design for 3D prints and production. Below are a few excerpts from the interview but we encourage you to read the interview in its entirety on the CADSpeed blog.

3D Printing Services | Rapid Prototyping Services | 3D-innovationsIn what ways do you predict that 3D printing will revolutionize industry?

Initial 3D printers and processes were limited to various types of plastic such as ABS, nylon, and other polymers. With the introduction of metal 3D printing several years ago, it has opened up other industries and applications to adopt 3D printing as a standard, not an option. Large aerospace companies are beginning to integrate 3D printed parts into their products. Development of new materials and technology to build parts is evolving and a fast pace. These new, revolutionary developments will drive the 3D printing/additive manufacturing industry into areas that will change the market. Such industries are medical, food, and biotechnology, to name a few. By using 3D printing over conventional manufacturing methods, designs can be more complex while increasing their functionality.

You talk about rapid prototyping being one of the advantages of 3D printing. Can you give a couple of real-world examples of this, and why it’s helpful?

In most applications, having the ability to 3D print a prototype for testing form, fit, and function is extremely critical. When tolerances are not crucial, 3D printing is a far more cost-effective and efficient option than having the parts CNC machined. For one particular project, we needed to build a prototype of a miniature cooler design. This product was unique and had multiple parts with some complex features and details. It was designed to be injection molded and to have a set or several sets of these prototypes made would have cost well over $10,000 to produce. By using 3D printing to build the parts, the cost and lead time was reduced significantly, allowing the customer to receive the parts in a shorter amount of time. Because the project only required several prototypes, it wasn’t cost effective to even make “soft tooling” to produce the low amount of prototypes needed, so 3D printing really made the most sense.

To take advantage of 3D printing, you have to start with 3D models. Can you talk about some other ways that 3D CAD differs from traditional CAD drawing?

Traditional drawings, sometimes referred to in our industry as “shop drawings,” have been mostly superseded by 3D design solutions. CAD/CAM was the first set of methods to adopt this practice, translating 3D digital design data directly into the manufacturing machine’s software more efficiently than manual translation. By using a 3D digital design process, we are able to create designs and validate them with up to 95% certainty that they will work before even building a prototype. Integrating other processes such as FEA (finite-element analysis) and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) tools with the digital design process will help to predict the functionality. This would not be achievable from 2D drawings, as no computational data exists. In addition to these design tools, having a 3D digital design will enable us and the client to see the product fully assembled, view it from all angles and visualize the entire design digitally.

…Read more from this interview on CADSpeed.

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Product of the Week: Crystal Wash 2.0

January 30, 2015
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“Changing the way laundry gets done.” The Crystal Wash 2.0 aims to change the way in which we tackle the chore of laundry while benefiting the environment.

crystalwash“Crystal Wash is a proven technology that lasts for at least 1000 loads of laundry.  It uses the power of Bio Ceramics from the earth, which naturally clean your clothes as effectively as laundry detergent. It is better for your skin and more gentle on your fabrics. It is also better for the environment because it reduces contaminated waste water filtered back into the water supply, saves water by lowering required rinse cycles, and effectively reduces CO2 production by requiring less energy than a traditional detergent based wash.”

As with many products today, the Crystal Wash 2.0 will be conveniently connected to your phone, through an app, and will provide recharge alerts, wash complete alters, wash cycle tracking stats, savings tracker and much more. On the Kickstarter page for Crystal Wash 2.0 you can also view a video in which they take you though the prototyping and testing process. As an engineering firm we are always interested in the full product development life cycle and can really appreciate the design and testing that has gone into making the Crystal Wash 2.0 a success.

Learn more about the Crystal Wash 2.0 on Kickstarter or the official website. You can also follow the company and their Kickstarter campaign on Twitter!

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Product of the Week: Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil

January 23, 2015
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We know what you might be thinking, really a mechanical pencil for the Product of the Week, but with a motto like “A Mechanical Pencil That Will Last You A Lifetime” we had to stop and take notice. Many of us, especially engineers, use a mechanical pencil every day and don’t give much thought to it. When our pencil breaks we just reach in the desk drawer and pull out a new one while tossing the old one right into the trash can. The engineer behind the Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil got to thinking about all of the plastic and waste filling up our planet because of the high turnover of mechanical pencils and he knew there had to be a better way.

modern fuel mechanical pencil“The project started when I noticed I was using packs and packs of mechanical pencils at work as disposable items. I set out to design a mechanical pencil that would reduce the waste, be a testament to U.S. manufacturing and design, and not break the bank. Having a single mechanical pencil that replaces the endless packs of plastic that end up sitting it landfills and floating in our oceans has to be a good thing.”

The Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil is made from a single piece of metal and has been re-engineered so that there are less parts (thus reducing the chance for breaks). The design behind this pencil is spectacular; the clean lines and sleek design really make it stand out.

Learn more about the Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil on Kickstarter, the official website and Twitter!

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Crowdfunding Success

January 22, 2015
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The concept of crowdfunding is something that many are familiar with now and it’s hard to believe that this concept has only been around for roughly five years. The JOBS Act of 2012 really helped set the platform for crowdfunding to expand and that it has. “According to the Crowdfunding Industry Report by Massolution, in 2012 there was $2.7 Billion raised online via crowdfunding. In 2013 an estimated $5.1 Billion was crowdfunded online.” When entrepreneurs see these types of numbers and hear about wildly successful campaigns (such as the Coolest Cooler on Kickstarter, which raised $13M) it is no surprise that they are turning to crowdfunding for support.

goalWith so many crowdfunding platforms out there the landscape is packed and it is hard to know where to begin. We have put together the following list of crowdfunding websites sites, with brief descriptions on what types of projects they host, to help narrow your search to the community that is the best suit for your goals and needs.

  1. Kickstarter: “Bring your creative project to life” is the motto. This donation-based platform hosts creative projects ranging from art instillations to 3D printing technology. It is one of the earlier platforms and is very well-known. It has gained momentum in recent years with numerous product break-out campaigns raising wild amounts of funding.
  2. Indiegogo: This donation-based platform can help raise funds for a variety of projects. You will see things from consumer products to personal projects hosted here. With this kind of project variety and flexibility, Indiegogo has experienced more international growth than many of the other platforms.
  3. Quirky: If you’re an inventor, maker, or tinkerer then Quirky is a place to collaborate and crowdfund for donation-based funding with a community of other like-minded folks. Their site digs deeper into helping the process of bringing an invention or product to life, allowing community participation in the process.
  4. Go Fund Me: This donation-based platform is similar to Indiegogo in that there is quite a variety of projects on this site. Anything from personal goal projects to consumer product ideas can be found here.
  5. Crowdfunder: This is an investment-based platform, and has a one of the largest and fastest growing network of investors. This platform has quickly become the “Step #2″ in crowdfunding for businesses — After successfully completing a donation-based funding campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, companies are often turning to Crowdfunder to give the the crowd the opportunity to invest and raise more formal Seed & Series A rounds.
  6. AngelList: This is the place to go if you are looking for Silicon Valley momentum. Crowdfunding is relatively new for AngelList but the accredited investors and institutions on AngelList have been funding a growing number of top tech startups.
  7. CircleUp: This is a investment-based crowdfunding platform focuses on connecting accredited investors with innovative consumer and retail companies.

You will see in the brief descriptions above we mentioned either donation-based or investment-based. Donation or rewards based is the traditional type of crowdfunding platform in which you invest funds in return for a product if the campaign is successfully funded. Investment-based means that you are becoming a shareholder and are offered shares from the company in return for your investment.

We know there are hundreds of crowdfunding platforms out there, but we feel that these are the top places for entrepreneurs to get a product successfully funded and on its way to manufacturing and ultimately consumers.

We invite you to learn more about crowdfunding on the following websites:

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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