Learn About Design: Prototyping and 3D Printing Options

Learn About Design: Prototyping and 3D Printing Options

3D printing is a manufacturing process that allows for the construction of a three dimensional solid object from a digital file. A 3D printer works by laying out successive layers of material, one on top of the other, until the entire form is constructed. 3D printing can be a great and economical resource for creating a physical prototype of your concept. There are a variety of 3D printer and software options on the market today and a wide array of materials can be 3D printed, from ABS plastic to rubber, precious metals, or even chocolate! Not all 3D printers use the same technology. Here at Enhance, our 3D printer uses the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) method. In order to get a part 3d printed, you will need to have a virtual design of the object you intend to create. This CAD (Computer Aided Design) file is sliced into hundreds of horizontal layers and uploaded to the 3D printer which will read and process each slice. Once your CAD file is uploaded to the printer, ABS plastic is unwound from a coiled spool of material and then melted and dispensed through an extrusion nozzle. Each layer of plastic hardens immediately, once it is extruded from the nozzle. The printer continues to blend each layer on top of the last, resulting in one three dimensional object! 3D printing has many advantages. It allows for levels of complexity that often could not be produced through traditional manufacturing processes. 3D printing does not require any additional tooling, which is typically the most cost, time and labor intensive stages of product development. 3D printing...

Prototyping | Urethane Molds and Cast Parts

When designs are reaching their final form, after working through enough prototypes to feel confident in the functionality and styling, what might be the next step? While 3D printing had been useful in the earlier prototype stages, sometimes jumping straight into ordering tooling to produce parts can be a substantial gamble. The process of urethane molding and casting can help bridge this gap. To create a part in this way, a mold is built, which is a hollow container that represents the shape of your part. Then, the liquid urethane or silicone is poured in and left to harden. When the final part is pulled from the mold, what you have is a prototype that closer simulates the final component than if it were 3D printed. In a 3D print, layers of material are built up on top of each other, but are not perfectly fused together resulting in a prototype that would not be an accurate test of strength. Additionally, if a show quality finish is desired, a 3D printed prototype’s surface must be substantially sanded, primed, and painted. A molded part requires none of this, as its surface finishing is built into the mold. One unique aspect of this prototyping method is that it allows multiple prototypes to be made with a single mold. As many as twenty prototype parts can be pulled from a single mold before wearing out! This means with a single mold you can experiment with many different things, such as the type of material (urethane, silicone, rubber), softness/hardness of the material, or color of the material. Plus, in building this mold, you...

New Product Idea: Licensing vs. Manufacturing

  There are primarily two ways for an inventor to bring their product to market: licensing or manufacturing and selling it themselves. At Enhance Product Development, we get asked all the time which one is better and what we would recommend. So we’re going to lay out the pros and cons of both options to help you make an educated decision about which method would work best for you. The goal is not to persuade you one way or another (because Enhance Product Development can help with both methods), but to lay out the pros and cons we’ve observed about them both. LICENSING PROS: – Can sometimes secure a licensing deal without the expense of making a physical prototype and just have a ‘virtual prototype‘ instead. – Minimum involvement needed by the inventor. They don’t have to be involved in manufacturing, distribution or sales processes. – Licensee pays out royalties, a percentage of sales, to the inventor. LICENSING CONS: – Less control of your product. A licensee may want to change elements of the product, the name, logo, price, etc. – Negotiating is a skill, especially when you’re negotiating a fairly complex deal such as a licensing agreement. – Usually it takes longer to get your product to market through licensing, and the licensee may want to delay the release until timing is right for them too. – Difficulty in finding a licensee. We’ll be honest, it’s not always easy to find companies to license out products. Enhance Product Development can help with finding licensees and negotiations! – Products that get licensed usually have to have fairly strong intellectual property...

How To Manufacture A Product

Being an inventor myself, who started out making my own products, I quickly realized it would be much easier to get them manufactured. Problem was, I had no idea where to even start going about finding a manufacturer. Here are some things I learned after finding, interviewing and hiring multiple manufacturing companies: Manufacturers specialize: I started out by searching online for manufacturers near me, this quickly made me realize that manufacturers are very specialized. Searching by the material that your product will be made out of has been helpful for me i.e. ‘fabric manufacturing’. Know how many units you need before calling: A manufacturer’s costs are all determined by how many units you buy. Obviously, the more you get, the cheaper they will be per unit. Knowing the minimum amount you would need and the maximum amount you would need (and are willing to spend) is going to help your relationship with a potential ‘partner’ of your company on the right foot. Dealing overseas: It’s no secret that a lot of manufacturing has moved overseas in the last few decades, so you honestly might have a very hard time finding a manufacturer in the U.S. willing to fill your order. If this is the case, Enhance can assist in finding a manufacturer overseas you can...