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...

Design Patent vs. Utility Patent Analogy

We get asked all the time what the difference between a design and utility patent is. Instead of reading some boring definition from a patent attorney, we’ll give you an anology to help you understand the difference. Think of a toaster. The electric coils that heats up is how it toasts things. That is the utility, or the functionality that is consistent no matter what the toaster looks like. According to Wikipedia, George Schneider was the first person to file for an American patent for an electric toaster.  Later on, different functions were patented, like adding a timer and the pop-up feature. None of these were dependant on how the toaster looks. So any toaster that was sold before these patents expired should have been approved by the inventor first, regardless of what the toaster looked like on the outside.  A design patent, on the other hand, completely depends on what the product looks like rather than how it works. The Hello Kitty toaster on the left could have a design patent issued, but not a utility patent since there is nothing unique about how it toasts the bread. What makes it unique is how it looks. It’s harder to get licensing deals for inventions with a design patent than a utility patent usually. That is why we strongly encourage people to have a patent attorney research and review similar patents before spending any money on product development if their goal is to license their invention. The attorneys that do our patent search give great feedback and suggestions of things you can add or change to your idea to increase your chances...

Interesting Patent: Apple’s Online Identity Cloner

Everyone knows that you can be identified by your fingerprints in the real world…but how are you identified in cyber space? “In a sense if the user engages in any Internet activity, information may be successfully collected about that user,” Apple said regarding their new patent. “Thus, even the most cautious Internet users are still being profiled over the Internet via dataveillance techniques from automated Little Brothers.” Big Brother is such a common term that there is even a popular show named after it. The idea of the show is that there is always someone watching you. The same principle applies online, except instead of fingerprints, websites use ‘cookies‘ to track a person’s internet activity. The most common use the data cookies provides, is for marketing and advertising companies. Google is one of the biggest online advertising companies around, and they happen to be Apple’s biggest competitor since releasing their Android phones to compete against the iPhone in 2007. I can’t help but wonder if this patent is Apple’s way of trying to meddle in their competitor’s business. Google has provided free access to their many useful apps and platforms since their inception, in exchange for information about you. The information has been used to grow one of the largest online advertising platforms ever- Google Adwords. The reason Adwords has been so successful is because it can pinpoint target audiences much more effectively, thanks to the information you have been willing to share with Google about yourself. Think about every time you have searched for anything using Google, used Google Maps, etc. Apple’s new patent intends to obscure the information...

Is My Product Idea Patentable?

So, you have a great idea for a new product, but you don’t want to tell anyone your idea until you have some kind of patent protection on it. What do you do? Although we don’t recommend talking to any random lawyer, especially at a drive-thru, the best way to get some information about how to protect your idea is to talk to an Intellectual Property Attorney. These are attorneys that have passed a special patent bar exam in addition to the state bar, after graduating law school. When talking to a patent attorney, make sure you get their opinion on what you might be able to change about your idea to increase your chances of being granted a utility patent. It’s very important to stress that you would like a utility patent and not just a design patent. We’ve negotiated a great deal for our clients with our patnet attorneys! They will do a patent search, but most importantly, they will give advice on how to increase your chances of being issued a utility patent based on the search results. Check out the flat rate we negotiated for you- not hourly so you don’t get any surprise bills....

What is a provisional patent?

We all know that lawyers are expensive, and lawyers are needed to get patents, therefore, patents can get very expensive very fast. To promote innovation in America, the United States Patent Office (USPTO) started offering inventors an option at a significantly lower price. Here are some common questions about provisional patents that Enhance gets asked a lot: How long is a provisional application for patent good for?  A provisional application for patent is good for 12 months. What happens after the provisional application for patent expires?  An applicant has 12 months after filing for a provisional application for patent to apply for a non-provisional patent. If the applicant does not meet this deadline then they lose the filing date of the provisional as their ‘effective filing date’ and it can be considered abandoned. Why do I need to file the provisional application for patent?  It is not required to file a provisional patent before filing a non-provisional patent. But, there are many benefits of doing so, especially for new inventors. One such benefit is that your date of inception is established with the USPTO even if you haven’t finalized everything regarding your idea yet. This means you have 12 months to determine your business plan, find investors, finalize your designs, or whatever your goal is with your idea, with the peace of mind that nobody can steal your idea. Any ‘tricks’ like mailing a description of your idea to yourself to prove the date you thought of an idea, or similar tactics are unnecessary if you file for the provisional application for patent. When should I file the provisional application for...

3 Things to Do First When You Have An Invention Idea

So many inventors ask us all the time about what we think about their idea and what they should do next. Before you search for anything else online, especially for a company to discuss your idea with, do these three steps: Google your idea. This may sound elementary to some people, but for a lot of eager inventors this step gets forgotten in all the excitement. Don’t rely on your own memory and if you have ever seen your idea at a store or anywhere else before- actually look online for a place to buy it! Search for similar patents. Google has again made search a lot easier, this time for patents. Go to google.com/patents. Search for keywords you would use to describe your idea to someone. Don’t get discouraged when you find a similar idea! Make a list of patents you think might be similar to your idea to discuss with your patent attorney. If you can’t find any patents similar to your idea, try to find a component of your idea that might be used in another way i.e. looking for a back-up sensor camera for automobile, instead search for motion sensor camera. Talk to a patent attorney! I know a lot of people are scared to talk to lawyers because they’re expensive. But it’s a lot cheaper to find out your idea needs a total overhaul to get a patent now, instead of after you’ve sunk time or money into product development. The intellectual property law firm we work with offers our clients patent searches for very reasonable prices. The most important part of their patent search is their legal...