Five Product Development Pitfalls to Avoid

July 12, 2016
3D Innovations

The hardware startup landscape is riddled with product development challenges and barriers, and as an entrepreneur your job is to make sure that you are well equipped to handle whatever comes your way. This by no means is saying that you must have all of the answers—no one is an expert at everything—it is saying that you need to surround yourself with people of differing skill sets to help you along the way.

Below are five common product development pitfalls to avoid as you prepare to develop and launch your product.

costsPoor planning. “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” Managing your risk and proper product development planning are two ways to overcome this common pitfall. Without a plan in place you leave the door open to errors and derailment. Though plans can—and do—change having one in place is a good way to minimize risk and reduce your time-to-market.

IP Risk. A survey of the IP landscape for your specific product/industry can greatly reduce this risk. Patent attorneys and engineers work together to make sure that your idea is not already patented and that there is ample room to innovate.

Market Risk. While you might find your product to be useful, is there a customer base for it? Are there other people out there who would purchase this product? Assessing the market risk is done through market research. Find your target market and work with them to gauge their needs and build a product that works for them.

Cost Risk. Can you make a profit? You want to be sure that your design is both effective and efficient. Minimizing your costs from the onset is the best way to combat this pitfall. The manufacturing phase of product development is where many entrepreneurs face this challenge. Research manufacturers and find one that has experience manufacturing a product similar to yours—chances are if they have experience, there will be fewer (costly) errors.

Competitive Risk. Work with professionals and team members that have experience navigating your industry. The experience they bring to your startup is invaluable and will help you get to market much faster, thus reducing your competitive risk.

Developing a product and launching a startup is a great adventure. Starting the process prepared and aware of these common pitfalls will undoubtedly help you throughout your entire product development and product launch journey.

Do you have further questions about the product development process? We would love to help! Send them our way, 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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Enhance Sales & Experience with Quality Package Design

July 6, 2016
3D Innovations

packageDesigning products that fly off store shelves is the universal goal during a product launch. The validation and fulfillment that comes with a successful product launch is what drives entrepreneurs. One of the first interactions a customer has with your product is on the shelf at the store. The package design is what catches their eye, motivates them to stop and look at your product and ultimately helps makes the final purchasing decision.

In order to optimize your product’s package design there are a few items to consider:

  • Material Durability. The material you would like to use and the material that makes the most sense for your product may not always align—costs and durability are two of the main reasons for the disconnect. You want to pick a material that can withstand shipping, stocking and being dropped (as this is inevitable). Design the packaging to help your product withstand the transportation process and any bumps it may receive along the way before reaching your customers.
  • Store Requirements. Most of the big-box retailers have package requirements that you must follow in order to get your product onto their shelves. Take the time to understand these guidelines and invest in shipping certifications when necessary (i.e. ISTA Certification).
  • Develop Your Product’s Message. Being clear and concise with your overall message will help reduce the quantity of materials in your packaging and ultimately reduce overhead. Within a 30 second glance at your product, what do you want consumers to learn? Consumers are inundated with messages as they walk down an aisle and you want to make yours memorable. You need to be both efficient in your use of materials, and in your package design communication.
  • Security. Deter in-store theft with a secure package design. If your product is easily stolen it will hinder your bottom line and could also get your inventory shipped back to you. Theft-proof packaging should be at the forefront of your design.

At the end of the day, you want to always keep the consumer in mind when going through the product development process and designing your packaging. This first interaction with your product can either enhance their initial experience or frustrate them from the onset. As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a great first impression. Your overall package design should look good on store shelves, encourage sales and provide a positive experience for both the customer and retailer.

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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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Why Does Design For Manufacturability Matter?

June 23, 2016
3D Innovations
What is Design for Manufacturability?

Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is the process of being proactive during the product design phase by considering the manufacturing stage of product development at the start of the design cycle. Early consideration of the manufacturing phase shortens product development time, minimizes development costs and ensures a smooth transition into production for quick time-to-market. Overall development costs are minimized when DFM is utilized because the product design, from the onset, aims to reduce the number of parts that need to be manufactured which speeds up assembly. The entire goal of DFM is to produce a product that is easily and economically manufactured.

Why is Design for Manufacturability Important?

When you are working towards commercialization of a product, the goal is to be efficient, minimize costs and get your product onto store shelves quickly—DFM works to do just this. With DFM you work out any potential issues before manufacturing planning which saves both time and resources.

At the heart of Design for Manufacturability is a group of design guidelines structured to help the designer reduce costs and manufacturing difficulty. The following is a brief list of these guidelines:

  • Reduce the number of total parts
  • Use of standard components
  • Design parts to be multi-functional
  • Design for ease of fabrication
  • Minimize assembly directions
  • Maximize compliance
The Importance of Strategic Product Development

Quality product development is a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Product design establishes product features, how it will work and overall reliability of the product. When the product development cycle is planned out and every stage is properly accounted for, a product is able to be successfully designed, manufactured and put into the hands of consumers at a much quicker rate.

Do you have additional questions about DFM or the manufacturing phase of the product development cycle? Let us help! Contact us by e-mail at info@3d-innovations.comor or by phone at 1-808-772-8667.

Works Referenced

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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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Celebrating Makers During The ‘National Week of Making’

June 21, 2016
3D Innovations

The National Week of Making (June 17-23) is a chance to celebrate and honor our nation of tinkerers, inventors and entrepreneurs. With barriers to entry diminishing and technologies becoming more available—such as 3D printers, design software and desktop machine tools—maker enthusiasts are now better equipped to design and build almost anything.

“Makers and builders and doers—of all ages and backgrounds—have pushed our country forward, developing creative solutions to important challenges and proving that ordinary Americans are capable of achieving the extraordinary when they have access to the resources they need.” – President Obama

Local and national maker communities have really started to rally around one another since the first National Week of Making took place in 2014. Makers are feeling empowered to learn new skills and develop products that make our lives easier and our world a better place.

Here at 3D Innovations, we support makers and the entire maker movement. We understand the desire to build and develop a cutting-edge product. The drive to commercialize an idea is what making and entrepreneurship is all about. Product development is exciting, yet it is also all-encompassing and full of challenges. With years of product development experience, on a wide variety of products, we pride ourselves on being a resource for the maker community.

If you are busy building a product but find yourself up against a roadblock, let us help! Below is a brief list of our core services.

  • Product Design. With a focus on product markets, our designers can optimize your product designs and functionality to exceed customer expectations. Designs conform to industry standards and follow Design For Manufacturing (DFM) and Design For Assembly (DFA) methodologies.
  • 3D Printing. We’ll generate a custom quote for you, anywhere in the world. From on-demand parts and customized products to full scale manufacturing runs, give us a try!
  • IP Protection. Every great idea needs to be protected. Use our resources to file for Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights.
  • 3D Engineering. We deliver value and focus on the complete development process.
  • Prototyping. Get your concept off quickly by using prototypes. Built from similar materials as the finished product, use as an aid in understanding your product’s aesthetic and visual appeal.
  • Prototype Finishing. Need Pre-Production grade parts? Projects that require unique finishes can be done with special coatings, custom painting, graphics, and Hydro Dipping applications. Post process finishing can give your prototype the finished look required for use in presentations, trade shows, and marketing/sales activities.
  • IP/Product Licensing. Need to license or sell your intellectual property? Take advantage of our expertise and confidentiality in this area in order to get a fully protected IP into the marketplace.
  • 3D Design. Using 3D Visualization and Design tools, you will have the capability to understand all aspects of your design before building physical prototypes.
  • Production. Avoid Manufacturing errors and expensive re-tooling. Utilizing domestic and foreign partners, we are able to provide low and high volume manufacturing sourcing solutions that specialize in Blow Molding, Injection Molding, and Rotational Molding manufacturing methods.

Don’t see a service you are looking for on this list? Let’s chat! Send us an e-mail at info@3d-innovations.comor or call us at 1-808-772-8667 to discuss your specific product development challenge.

Catch us at the ‘Third Annual Honolulu Mini Maker Faire’ on June 25th! Find details and further event information on our blog. See you there!

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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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Manufacturing Facts Hardware Entrepreneurs Need To Know

June 15, 2016
3D Innovations

Developing a product is exhilarating, however when the time comes to start the manufacturing phase of the product development process, many entrepreneurs aren’t exactly sure where to begin. Below are some pieces of advice that every hardware startup should know about the manufacturing process.

mfg3Understand your cash flow.

Many startups are strapped for cash—especially during the early days—that is why understanding your company’s cash flow is crucial. Depending on your hardware product, you may be required to purchase certain components six months to a year before your launch. Work with your manufacturer to setup a realistic payment option that won’t leave your startup in the red.

Find an experienced manufacturer.

All manufacturers have experience, but your goal is to find a manufacturer that has experience building a product similar to yours. Chances are that if they have experience building a similar product, the number of challenges that arise will diminish. Also, ask to see product samples so that you can get a feel on the quality of work they produce.

If your goal is to manufacturer your product in the U.S., prepare to pay a little bit more. However, some entrepreneurs don’t mind paying more for the comfort of being able to visit the manufacturing facility on a regular basis. During the early production runs you are going to want to be on-site to talk with the engineers to make sure things are running smoothly.

Be prepared to compromise.

You might have visions of making your product from recycled materials, or certain sustainable materials, however, these may not be the best options for your product. Your product is going to need to meet certain thresholds and tolerances, which means that using the correct material is imperative. Be prepared to compromise on things such as materials, the manufacturing timeline and other variables that will undoubtedly arise.

Start with small production runs.

While you are putting final touches on the design and working out the “kinks”, it is a good idea to start with small production runs. The minimum (around 5,000 units) run will give you a chance to fix any issues that come up without experiencing potentially dire financial consequences.

If you are planning on running a crowdfunding campaign, a small production run might not be feasible if you have a wildly successful campaign. In that case, you can consider the option of running multiple manufacturing lines. While this can complicate the manufacturing process, it will help you stick to the timeline you laid out for customers. If you would rather stick with the small product run method, let your customers know that you plan on starting with small batches and scaling up gradually, which will mean a longer wait time—keep in mind that most customers are willing to wait when the startup is transparent about their timeline from the get-go.

Do you have additional questions about the manufacturing phase of the product development cycle? Let us help! Contact us by e-mail at info@3d-innovations.comor or by phone at 1-808-772-8667.

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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!

Connect with us on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn today

Drones Soar Into Academia

June 10, 2016
3D Innovations

As technology advances and expands, it is finding its way into classrooms. One such technology that has great teaching and learning potential is that of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or more commonly known as drones.

2016 Hawaii STEM Conference

2016 Hawaii STEM Conference

While drones are finding a place in many industries, academia is also an area where they are thriving. This is a hands-on tool that is relatively low-cost and allows teachers to bring lessons to life for students. We recently conducted a drone design and build workshop for teachers at the 2016 Hawaii STEM Conference and were delighted to see how many educators were not only interested in the technology, but wanted to integrate it into their schools. Our workshop covered the basics of drones—how to design and build them, and how to integrate the curriculum into their classrooms.

Below are a few of the ways that drones enhance lesson plans and get students actively involved.

  • Robotics. One of the most apparent subject matters drones can teach students about is robotics. Working together to make many parts function at one time requires an “if, then” mindset (“If I do this, then this happens.”). For students interested in becoming engineers, developing an analytical thinking skillset will help set them up for future success. It is important to consider that even short exposure to robotics can have a lasting impact on students to pursue complex careers that they may have never considered.
  • Mathematics. Basic math knowledge is essential to learning how to design and operate drones, also at a collegiate level, more complex concepts and principals can be explored.
  • Electronics. Wiring the drone’s microcontroller will teach the basic principles of electronics. Students will also come to understand the way electronic motors operate and how to repair them when they fail.
  • Programming. This is a big one because many schools are now realizing that in order to have successful students, programming is an essential skill they need to learn before entering the workforce. Building drones lets students explore and develop programming skills. As students advance they will be able to experiment with open-source hardware and software for the microcontroller.
  • Perseverance. Failure is not a bad thing, which is something many students (and adults) have a hard time coming to terms with. All of the above subjects we mentioned require students to test theories, and inherently there is a degree of failure associated with this testing. Building an attitude of “Why didn’t my theory work and how do I fix it?” creates open-minded students and life-long learners.

Developing the above STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills at an early-age is critical for the future job market—it is predicted that eight million STEM jobs will need to be filled by 2018.

If you are interested in learning more about integrating drone technology into your classroom or school, send us an e-mail at info@3d-innovations.com — We can provide resources and further insight to help you get started.

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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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The Third Annual Honolulu Mini Maker Faire

June 7, 2016
3D Innovations

We are excited to share that 3D Innovations will be at the upcoming Honolulu Mini Maker Faire on June 25th. This is always a fantastic event and brings together our local community of makers.

We will have a booth at the event and would love to chat with you! Stop by the 3D Innovations booth to learn about Product Development, Prototype Design, 3D Printing and Manufacturing. If you have an idea for a product that you would like to bring to market and commercialize, come talk to us to see how we can help.

We will also have a few (awesome) 3D printed parts on display for you to check out and get your hands on.

If you have product development questions and don’t want to wait until the Honolulu Mini Maker Faire on June 25th, send them our way at info@3d-innovations.com or reach us by phone at 1-808-772-8667.

Flyer2016EventV4-page-001

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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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Intellectual Property: Should You Consider A Licensing Business Model?

June 2, 2016
3D Innovations

ip-3d-printing-innovations-100In our Case Study blog post last week, Transitioning From Idea To Manufacturable Product, we discussed the ways in which we helped a client secure a licensing agreement. 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?

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.

Licensing agreements are becoming more common than in the past and are open to more inventors. This has also increased the number of inventors approaching manufacturers and, thus, increased competition.

What are the benefits of a licensing agreement?

Below is a list of some of the main 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 innovation will most likely get to market faster because a larger, more experienced company is handling the commercialization.
  • The innovation may reach more markets if the licensee is a large, well-funded enterprise.
  • The licensor retains ownership of the intellectual property.

How do I evaluate a potential licensee?

When evaluating a potential licensee, you should focus on its ability to effectively commercialize your invention/IP. Often times that means considering companies that have a proven track record of marketing and selling products based on inventions similar to yours. Depending on the invention, the best way to commercialize it could also be to license it to a startup, a manufacturer, or a bunch of companies in separate territories.

Suggestions for securing a licensing agreement:

  1. Assess the complexity of our 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Have additional questions about licensing agreements? We would be happy to help answer them, please e-mail 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.

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

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

Connect with us on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn today

Transitioning From Idea To Manufacturable Product [Case Study]

3D INNOVATIONS CASE STUDY

The challenge: Take a consumer product concept and turn it into a manufacturable design to be used as part of an Intellectual Property (IP) package.

A new customer was recently referred to 3D Innovations by a past client of ours, in which we helped them bring their product to market. With a simple concept in hand, this new client needed assistance in taking an idea and turning it into a manufacturable product. The 3D Innovations design team was tasked with taking a sketch, drawing and handmade prototype, and developing it into a manufacturable design that could be used as part of an Intellectual Property package.

(Photo credit: Home Depot website)

Once we finalized the conceptual design rendering, a functional prototype was developed using 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing technology. With the functional prototype complete, the idea really came to life. From here, the detailed drawings that we created were then used in the official patent application. With the design and functional prototype in hand, our customer began approaching several companies regarding a licensing deal.

Results: Working with a group of IP attorneys, the idea was successfully patented and licensed to a large manufacturer/distributor.

*[Note] – Not all ideas are turned into a manufacturable product by the inventor themselves, in some cases—such as this one—the inventor decided to use a licensing strategy to take advantage of the vast sales and distribution channels that larger corporations already have in place. Also, licensing is not always about the technical design, instead the strategy is focused on creating value for the licensor to add to their existing product portfolio.

With the assistance from 3D Innovations, I was able to provide a rough mock-up of my idea and get a functional design along with a prototype developed that, in turn, allowed me to obtain a licensing deal with a large manufacturer within my targeted industry.”

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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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Product Design: What inspires you?

May 19, 2016
3D Innovations

While many of our blog posts offer product design and product development insight and information, we have decided to turn the tables a bit for this post and ask our readers for their input. We want to delve into the topic of inspiration. We all find different things inspiring—this is what helps motivate us to push the design boundaries and think outside of the proverbial box. When it comes to designing a consumer product, we always want to be on the cutting edge and engage customers with all aspects of the design—from the product design to the packaging.

lightbulb1Inspiration comes in many forms and from everywhere… So now we pose the question to you:

When you are looking for inspiration, before you begin your next design challenge, where do you turn?

Below are a few places where we find inspiration. They help excite us for our next design project and remind us to continually challenge ourselves while pushing the boundaries of design.

  • Nature. What is more inspiring than nature? Nature is the ultimate innovator. Interesting shapes, materials and forms—can be found in nature and continue to inspire engineers.
  • Product design websites. With a simple click of a button you can be inundated with all different types of design work and renderings. Objects that many people see as mundane and ordinary are reimagined (fruit bowl, lightbulbs, and keyboards) and you can browse thousands of these wonderful designs online.
  • Your portfolio (past projects). Looking back often inspires us for the future. Projects that we completed years ago still provide us with insight and inspiration.
  • Design and engineering books. Whether they are textbooks from college or design books you picked up at a local bookstore, they seem to always inspire. Books have a way of bridging the past with the future, and in themselves are quite inspirational.

We would love to know what inspires some of your best work! Please leave it as a comment below.

“To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible.”

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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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