Category Archives: Edison Nation Team

protoTYPING: 3D Printing in a Nutshell

3D printing is one of the biggest buzzwords in product development and innovation. There are new 3D printing technologies or someone making a unique product with a 3D printer in the news every week. 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing and it is a crucial part of the development process at Edison Nation. We have a partnership with 3D Systems, one of the biggest players in the space, and this has allowed us to install a suite of their printers in the shop to help make your inventors’ product ideas come to life. I will explain how 3D printing fits into the product development process, and reveal the different 3D printing technologies that we use in the EN lab.

Projet 660

The 3D Systems Projet 660 in the EN lab.

For most product development projects, 3D printing comes into the process in the middle and later stages. We rarely take an idea and go straight to 3D printing parts. In the early stages of the process, we are typically trying to prove that a concept works, and the earliest prototypes are usually made from components that are hacked from existing products. I wrote a post about creating prototypes from everyday materials explaining how to go about this. While 3D printing is a fast way to get parts, it requires a CAD file to print from. In the earliest stages, it is often not efficient to spend time at the CAD terminal if it possible to iterate with shelf components. However, we may 3D print parts at this stage if we need to adapt parts of two dissimilar products to prove a concept.

Where 3D printing really becomes valuable is when the form of a product is merged with the functionality derived from the early concept models. Once the engineers have figured out functional elements of a product like, motors, gear trains, springs, etc. these specs are passed on to the design team to create a great looking form to house all of the components. Often the EN designers will craft a look for a product that is very organic and has a lot of complex curvature. There is no better way to prototype these shapes than to use a 3D printer.

3D printer

3D printers make creating products with complex shapes, like this LED light for Dublin Dog, much easier than with traditional machining techniques.

The Edison Nation team has a suite of three different 3D Systems printers that we can use for our prototypes. They each use a different technology to make the parts and each have their own bespoke materials, so each one is used for different parts of the product development process.

The ProJet 660, which is also called the Z printer, makes full color 3D models out of gypsum-like powder. The build speed is really fast, the material is the cheapest of any of our machines, and the post processing is easy. The models from this machine tend to be more fragile than parts off of the other machines, so it is rarely used for fully working prototypes. We use this machine early in the design process when we need to evaluate the overall shape or hand feel of the product.

The full color printing is a great asset to us late in the development process when we want to evaluate different color options or to do some prototype packaging designs. A great example of how we use this technology was during the development of the Wine Shark. When the designers first drew the Wine Shark body with the dorsal fin styling, it was unclear if the fin would be comfortable to hold. Before we spent any time detailing the inner workings of the final product we did a quick Z print of the body shell so that we could evaluate the hand feel of the product. In a couple of hours we were able to validate the design before spending any hours designing all of the internal structures of the product.

3D printing

A Z-printer form model for the Wine Shark.

The ProJet 3500 HD Max is another one of our printers. The 3500, as we call it in the shop, is a super high resolution printer that gives us durable plastic parts. The 3500 is a MultiJet printer, which means that each build layer has a combination of a waxy support material with the build material. Once the print is finished, the wax support is melted off of the build material, leaving only the desired geometry. The build volume of the 3500 is 11.75″x7.3″ x 8″ high, so we use a small toaster oven to melt most of the wax off before putting it in a secondary heated wax removal rinse that we keep in a crock pot. We use this machine when we need to get really high resolution of tight geometry. Since the resolution is so good we often use the 3500 for making molds for urethane castings because they require less sanding.

3D printing

A family of parts fresh off of the 3500. The darker areas are the build material and the lighter amber area is the wax support structure.

The workhorse of the EN 3D printing suite is the ProJet 6000. The 6000 is a sterolithography machine (SLA) which is a common style of 3D printer. The SLA process works by having a UV laser project the geometry of each layer onto the build platform that is dipped in a UV curable liquid build material. After each layer is cured, the platform is dipped back into the build material to form a new layer and the laser is fired again. Once the part is finished, the excess resin is cleaned in an alcohol bath and then finish cured in a UV oven.

3D printing

Parts being removed from the SLA.

The SLA material is the toughest of our 3 printers and it subsequently gets used the most. Any prototype that may see some abuse or needs to take a screw gets run on this machine. Since the material is strong, it does a good job of approximating the toughness and resilience of the plastics that we would likely go into production with. If all of the screw bosses and rib structures that we design into the product perform well in this material, we are very confident it will work in the production material too. The material is also clear, and can get polished to a near transparent finish which is great for any prototypes that need a lens. Just about every product that we work on gets at least a few parts off this machine. The most recent, was the Collar Perfect which I highlighted in my last column. All of the plastic pieces on the alpha prototype for the Collar Perfect were made on the SLA and most of the beta prototype that we are starting this month will be made on it as well.

3D printing

A family of parts for the Collar Perfect fresh off of the ProJet 6000 SLA machine.
Additive manufacturing in the form of 3D printing has evolved to be so convenient that it is a necessary part of the design process. The Edison Nation design team uses some sort of 3D printing for nearly every project that we get our hands on. Our partnership with 3D Systems has expanded our ability to create prototypes that look and work great and cut down on our time between iterations.


  Have you ever thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if…”?

We can help you get your great ideas on TV and in stores, at no risk to you.

Join for free

Behind-The-Scenes: Perfect Bacon Bowl Blooper Reel

Edison Nation inventor, Thom Jensen, has come a long way since first submitting his idea in our As Seen on TV Open Search as a written description and rough aluminum foil prototype. After his Bacon Bowl tin idea was selected for market testing, it rolled out nationwide last year on TV and in major retailers including CVS, Walmart, and Walgreen’s. Thom Jensen’s simple invention idea has since turned into a national phenomenon with millions of units sold.

As we announced a few weeks ago, we’re gearing up for the holiday season with an all new Perfect Bacon Bowl commercial spot. If you still haven’t seen it, you can watch it below:

But, since we know how much you love peeking behind the curtain on Edison Nation ASOTV commercial shoots, we’re giving you an inside look at the gags, screw ups, and bloopers that made this spot so much fun to create:

Can’t get that “brilliant and astounding” jingle out of your head? Want to take your shot a creating your own Bacon Bowl video? Download the jingle for free on our Edison Nation ASOTV homepage.


So far we’ve earned over $200 million in retail sales for our inventors.

We can help you get your great ideas on TV and in stores, at no risk to you.

Join for free
 

 

Give the Gift of Bacon this Holiday Season

If you are a regular on our Facebook page, you probably saw the behind-the-scenes pictures of the EN team getting their bacon faces on.

Come to think of it: we grabbed the help of the Edison Nation Medical team (Runner 692 had no idea what he was getting into when he joined the team). And don’t forget to say hi to DougAnna and Patrick, too. They all ran really, really hard in the Perfect Bacon Bowl 5K. Continue reading

Let’s Get Edison Nation CEO, Louis Foreman, to SXSW 2015!

SXSW Interactive

Louis Foreman has devoted himself to helping independent inventors bring their ideas to market. He formed Edison Nation after realizing how many ideas existed locked up in people’s heads that didn’t have resources to bring it to market itself. To date, Louis has helped hundreds of people like you bring those ‘aha’ moments to store shelves.

SXSW (South By Southwest Interactive Festival) is an annual music, film, and interactive conference that is held in Austin, TX. In 2007, SXSW launched PanelPicker, an innovative online tool developed to enhance community participation in the SXSW Interactive Festival, and allow the community to have a voice in the conference activities.

SXSW PanelPicker

Edison Nation’s own Louis Foreman is in the running to speak at the event on consumer-centric innovation and we need YOUR help to get him there!

All you have to do is vote for Louis:

  1. Click here to visit Louis’ page on SXSW Interactive PanelPicker
  2. If you do not already have an account click ‘Sign In’ in the top right corner of the page
  3. Below the blue ‘Sign In’ button, click ‘Create Account’
  4. Once you have created the account you have to visit your email inbox and click the ‘Confirm my account’ link the email
  5. Once you have confirmed your account, return to Louis’ PanelPicker page
  6. On the right side of the page it says ‘Cast Your Vote’, click the thumbs up icon­

Extra credit: Share Louis’ PanelPicker page on Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn with hashtag #SXSW and #PanelPicker. Be sure to tag @EdisonNation so we can see!

 

Have you ever thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”?

We can help you get your great ideas on TV and in stores, at no risk to you.

Join for free
 

Meet the EN Team: Doug Doolen

Doug Doolen
 

This month, meet one of our team members who plays an active role in licensing your ideas, and could likely go toe-to-toe with anyone on Thomas Edison trivia! Get to know Doug Doolen.

Q1. What is your position and what does it entail?

A. I am a Licensing Manager for Edison Nation which means my job is two-fold: 1) I try to find a home at retail for each and every submission that comes in on our search platform, and 2) I secure partner searches for companies looking for new and exciting innovation.

Q2. What do you enjoy most about working at Edison Nation?

A. The challenge and gamesmanship involved in finding the right connection for the right product. I might be dealing with a product idea for a Walmart supplier, an innovation for a heavy industrial company, and maybe even a solution for the automotive accessory market all in the same day. I don’t know what will come across my desk or who I might be calling. This is exciting. We’re not pitching the same thing over and over again — each deal is new.

Q3. If you could be doing anything else right this moment, what would it be?

A. Water skiing for sure, but I really like hanging out with my family (my wife Heather and three daughters — yes, men — I backed off the poker table as I was getting outnumbered). My oldest graduated from Appalachian State and is working for Boeing Aircraft – Military; my middle is headed to Chapel Hill next year; and my youngest hasn’t focused yet. My wife and I laugh at their excitement and enjoyment of life.

Q4. What’s your hidden talent?

A. Not the guitar. My family gave one to me for Christmas and won’t even let me practice. I’ve been a girls’ competitive softball coach for years. My talent would be bringing out the best in a player and working in a patent consistent manner. Love coaching swing mechanics… it’s way different than baseball.  A 60 mph pitch in softball is like 90 in baseball because of the closer location of the pitcher.  If you ever see a softball pitcher face a baseball player, then bet on the softball player every time.

Q5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A. A truck driver! My dad had a bunch of truck drivers working for him in the dry ice business. I thought it was really cool that they started somewhere else in the wee hours of the morning to deliver the ice.

Q6. If you could experience someone else’s life for just one day, who would it be?

A. The President of the United States! I’d like to know what tools they have at their disposal and why there is so much “spinning” of the truth. Some of the deals past presidents have made or situations that they find themselves in are so peculiar. You could be the leader of the most powerful country in the world looking at all the situations from the top down.

Q7. Who are you often told is your doppelganger?

A. When John Elway was in his prime, people thought I looked like him. I played myself off as “Steve Elway” his younger brother quite a few times.  For some reason, now people think I have a resemblance to Peyton Manning. Maybe my receding hairline or that I’m native to Colorado or something. I’ve also heard from several ladies that I sound a lot like Tom Hanks.  I guess if I could act or play football, I wouldn’t be here.

Q8. You’re only allowed to eat one food for the rest of your life. What would you choose?

A. Pizza — hands down. Love it!

Q9. What’s a goal you’re most proud of accomplishing?

A. I was with a company that competed with the biggest motorsports safety company in the country. We began to enter the fire-suit market where all the top names were sponsored by “Simpson.” I researched and learned flame-retardant fabric characteristics; studied pattern-making and cut & sew techniques,;self-taught a grading scale for the patterns; built prototype suits and burned them on Thermo-Man™ at DuPont (burned 17 suits at $2,000 each); and basically understood every aspect of the product. That year we landed accounts with all of Hendrick Motorsports (Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, and Ricky Craven); as well as Ricky Rudd at Tide Racing; Kodak Racing with Morgan McClure; Ernie Irvan with Texaco Havoline; and Ward Burton. Jeff Gordon told me that no one ever educated him the way I did on the performance of his suits. I learned perseverance in the face of adversity during this time.

Q10. What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?

A. I always say “electricity” to this question but know this is more of a discovery. The innovation was how to handle it and harness its power in so many facets of today’s technology. I would like some day to go off-the-grid and live computer free. It probably won’t happen, but sometimes I feel like technology invades us. I visited the Edison Ford Estates in Ft. Meyers, FL earlier this year and learned two interesting facts. Edison used carbonized bamboo as the filament in his lighting elements and found that it was the best and most consistent method of carrying the load. He is also the only person to be awarded at least one patent each year for 65 years. It was rumored that he carried ball bearings that woke him when they fell to the ground, should he ever nap during his crazy work schedule. My avatar for work is me pictured next to a little bigger than life size statue of Thomas Edison at his estate. The artist modeled him with a large ball bearing in his left hand to symbolize his focus (it only rotates in a single plane). He has a cane in the right with a “silver tip” to show he was grounded in integrity and the principles of science.

Want to meet other members of our staff? Catch up on past Meet the EN Team posts!

Meet the EN Team: Tony Pierce

Tony Pierce
 

This month, meet the newest addition to our Accounting team, Tony Pierce.

Q1. What is your position and what does it entail?

A. I am an Accountant. I track costs and revenues by product, among other things.

Q2. What do you enjoy most about working at Edison Nation?

A. I really enjoy the creative atmosphere here. It’s fun to hear about all the new products in the works.

Q3. If you could be doing anything else right this moment, what would it be?

A. Snowboarding

Q4. What’s your hidden talent?

A. I used to breakdance, but it has been several years.

Q5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A. I wanted to be a marine biologist until the first time I saw a whale close up. They are mind-bogglingly huge!

Q6. If you could experience someone else’s life for just one day, who would it be?

A. Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan.

Q7. Who are you often told is your doppelganger?

A. People used to confuse my younger brother and me for twins.

Q8. You’re only allowed to eat one food for the rest of your life. What would you choose?

A. I’m going to cheat and say pizza; that’s like 4 or 5 foods if you’re doing it right.

Q9. What’s a goal you’re most proud of accomplishing?

A. I once bench pressed my wife. She got a pretty good kick out of that.

Q10. What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?

A. Besides the internet? I really like what Tesla motors has done with electric cars. If they can find a way to make them more affordable, that would do wonders for energy consumption.

A little behind on getting to know us? Catch up on past Meet the EN Team posts!

Meet the EN Team: Michael Evans

Mike Evans
This month, get to know one of our newest licensing team members, Michael Evans.

 Q1. What is your position and what does it entail?

    A. Licensing Manager; I work with retailers and manufactures to commercialize IP via world-wide license agreements.

Q2. What do you enjoy most about working at Edison Nation?

    A. It’s a great atmosphere with new and exciting IP each day… from cat scratchers to SUP Fitness.

Q3. If you could be doing anything else right this moment, what would it be?

    A. On the beach.

Q4. What’s your hidden talent?

    A. Cooking chicken and dumplings; drop or flat.

Q5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    A. Crane operator; My grandparents owned a heavy construction company.

Q6. If you could experience someone else’s life for just one day, who would it be?

    A. My dog, “Jersey.”

Q7. Who are you often told is your doppelganger?

    A. James Gandolfini from The Sopranos.

Q8. You’re only allowed to eat one food for the rest of your life. What would you choose?

    A. Saltimbocca from Federal Hill, RI.

Q9. What’s a goal you’re most proud of accomplishing?

    A. Professionally, Trifecta Team of the Year at Henkel of America (Old Dial Corp). Personally, adopting three dogs.

Q10. What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?

    A. The Yo-yo… it’s fun no matter your age.

A little behind on getting to know us? Catch up on past Meet the EN Team posts!

Now Hiring! Edison Nation is seeking a Senior Rails Developer

Know of any great Rails Developers out there? We’re always growing and we need to add one to our team. Please share this page and let them know about this opportunity!

Senior Rails Developer

Do your apps change people’s lives? Ours do.

Our users’ product ideas have generated more than $200 million in retail sales and our work touches millions of people from more than 180 countries.

Do you get excited about learning and using the latest technologies in a production environment? That’s how we roll and we want you to roll with us.

Edison Nation is seeking a highly-skilled and self-motivated Rails developer with excellent communications skills and the ability to excel in a fast-moving, creative environment. The desires to teach and learn in an ego-free environment and a good sense of humor are critical.

About us

We own innovation. Our members submit product ideas to us and we design, engineer and commercialize the best, sharing an industry-leading royalty with the inventor.

Did you catch Everyday Edisons on PBS or Hulu last night? That’s our Emmy award-winning television show. It’s about us and members of our site. It airs in over 60 countries around the world.

Are you sick of the late-night ads for Bacon Bowl, Eggies, Gyro Bowl and Mr. Steamy yet? Those are all ours, too. So is that new Kathy Ireland Stemáge collection.

We’re taking over the world as the online engine that brings consumer-driven innovation to market. And we want you to help lead us into the future.

Charlotte or anywhere

We’re located in beautiful Charlotte, NC. If you are here – or would like to relocate here – that’s fantastic. If you’re more the telecommuting type and already love the city you’re in, we’ll consider a telecommuting position for the right candidate – half of our team works remotely. We use Google Hangouts and Campfire to keep the team connected, regardless of location. We also have a daily 15-minute standup at 2pm EST to keep everybody up-to-date and from going stir crazy at home.

A look around the office

Note: click the photos above to view an around-the-office gallery from a previous post.

More about you

You should be comfortable working on large web applications. You should understand the ins and outs of working with dev, staging and production servers with multiple developers. You must have an extremely high attention to detail and the ability to deliver consistently while working independently and without constant supervision – although the rest of our team is always willing and ready to jump in and help when you need it.

Day-to-day, you will work with our team of front-end and back-end developers to code new features and improve the user experience for members of our giant community. You will also work with our other internal product development teams to build apps that help them be more efficient in developing, licensing and bringing physical real-world products to market.

You’re a self-motivator and you’re always on the lookout for opportunities to refactor code… and you don’t wait around for permission to make it happen. You’ll be a driving force behind the magic that makes people really enjoy using our site.

You absolutely crush Ruby on Rails and you’re excited about learning and using newer technologies like AngularJS.

You can work on our full technology stack and will have the ability to shift your focus – depending on your evolving interests – from the front-end to back-end to devops. No two days at Edison Nation are the same and you’ll never get bored.

You will hold your own on a mid-sized team that is expected to always deliver. Your boss is awesome (he’s also writing this) and knows his most important job is to filter out the noise so you can stay focused.

You will be given the opportunity to drive the development direction by choosing the tools you feel best solve the everyday challenges of a quickly-growing site. We’re looking for someone we can trust to make important decisions and own them.

Required skills

  • Ruby & Ruby on Rails
  • MySQL experience (on occasion, you will analyze a slow query and speed it up)
  • JavaScript (jQuery experience at a bare minimum)
  • Ability to interact with third-party APIs (Campaign Monitor, Hubspot, etc…)
  • Über-high attention to detail
  • At least 2 years of commercial development experience
  • Excellent communication and writing skills

Education

If you have the communication skills and maturity of a university graduate, we could care less where – or if – you went to school. On the other hand, if you went to a really nice school, we’ll make a point to sound impressed when you tell us about it. With the cost of higher education these days, it should at least get you something.

Benefits & perks

  • Salary based on experience
  • Excellent healthcare/dental insurance
  • Work with a diverse A-level team
  • Enjoy training + conference budget
  • Appear on our television show and your parents will finally understand what you do for a living!
  • Free Coca-Cola Freestyle, Froyo, Espresso, coffee, popcorn & beer

How to apply

Please send a very solid cover letter, a resume/cv if you have one, a link to your GitHub account and URLs for your best sites/apps to webjobs@edisonnation.com.

Seriously, if you’ve got the skills, you’ll win or lose the job based on your cover letter so please take the time to tell us why you think you’re a great fit.

  • No Recruiters
  • No Contractors
  • No Outsourcing Shops

If you are a recruiter, contractor or body shop, we’re just going to mark your email as spam if you send it to us. Your witty email isn’t going to change that, either. We’ll just figure out a way to click the spam button twice.

Meet the EN Team: Jeremy Losaw

Jeremy Losaw

You’ve read his engineering chronicles in the ProtoTYPING column every month, now learn more about Jeremy in this month’s Meet the EN Team.

Q1. What is your position and what does it entail?

    A. Senior Design Engineer. I do the mechanical design work from concept through to producing drawings for production. I also do a lot of prototyping work, and I write a monthly engineering blog for Edison Nation that is featured in Inventors Digest, as well.

Q2. What is your favorite product you’ve worked on at Edison Nation?

    A. I have two actually. The steam sponge that was featured in season 4 of Everyday Edisons, and the Wine Shark. The steam sponge was a great project because there were so many iterations and prototypes that I needed to build to get a working unit, and it was a challenge to develop a product for microwave use since the microwaves act in all sorts of non-obvious ways. The Wine Shark was a favorite of mine because — well — it is a wine product.

Q3. If you could be doing anything else right this moment, what would it be?

    A. Traveling the globe with my old lady.

Q4. What’s your hidden talent?

    A. I can make a mean red velvet cheesecake.

Q5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    A. I was hell-bent on being a killer whale trainer from about 7-14. However, I saw that Black Fish documentary about the captive killer whales, and after seeing a few trainers get bludgeoned to death, I am okay that that career path did not make it very far.

Q6. If you could experience someone else’s life for just one day, who would it be?

    A. Lady Gaga.

Q7. Who are you often told is your doppelganger?

    A. My mom thinks I look like Owen Wilson, but the guys in the office think I look like Calvin the cartoon character and Phillip Seymore Hoffman.

Q8. You’re only allowed to eat one food for the rest of your life. What would it be?

    A. Gyros.

Q9. What’s a goal you’re most proud of accomplishing?

    A. Getting a job as a NASCAR race engineer. I spent years trying to get the education and experience to do that, and it was great to travel the country and live like a professional athlete for a few years. Considering I didn’t know how to change my own oil until I was about 22, this seems like a pretty big coup. I also like to write and it was a pretty big thrill when my first article with my photos ran in an issue of R/C Car Action magazine in 2010.

Q10. What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?

    A. The fanny pack. There is no better way to carry your keys and wallet around an amusement park while keeping your hands free to pound cheeseburgers and soft drinks. Did you know that they come in a variety of high visibility neon colors too?

Want to meet other members of our staff? Catch up on past Meet the EN Team posts!

Meet the EN Team: Matthew Bowden

Matthew Bowden

As our DRTV-focused unit, the Edison Nation ASOTV team relies heavily on its talented videographers. Meet one of those team members (and a proud new dad!), Matthew Bowden.

Q1. What is your position and what does it entail?

    A. I am a Videographer/Editor here at EN. I am responsible for the filming and all post production services of our DRTV commercials along with other in-house videos.

Q2. What do you enjoy most about working at Edison Nation?

    A. You mean besides the unlimited amounts of free ice cream? I would have to say that the thing I enjoy most about my position here at EN is that I get to work on something new almost every day. As a creative nerd I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to do the same thing over and over all day every day.

Q3. If you could be doing anything else right this moment, what would it be?

    A. Hanging out with my wife and my new little son. Also…on a related note…maybe taking a nap?

Q4. What’s your hidden talent?

    A. Hmmm. My hidden talents are hidden for a reason. But if I HAVE to divulge one it would have to be baking. I’ve been told my cheesecakes rival Juniors’.

Q5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    A. I wanted to be a famous movie director. I spent most of my summers at the movies idolizing directors like Lucas and Spielberg.

Q6. If you could experience someone else’s life for just one day, who would it be?

    A. Man this is a tough one. I like being me. If I had to choose someone I guess it would be Willy Wonka. Oh, to have a factory filled with candy!

Q7. Who are you often told is your doppelganger?

    A. I can’t say that I’ve ever actually been told I look like someone. So for the sake of the question, I’ll tell you who I think my doppelganger is. Channing Tatum… nailed it!

Q8. You’re only allowed to eat one food for the rest of your life. What would you choose?

    A. This might seem weird but a Chicken Caesar Salad. Ugh, now I want one, be right back…

Q9. What’s a goal you’re most proud of accomplishing?

    A. Professionally, I would have to say being nominated for and winning an Emmy. For me it was validation that this is what I am meant to do.

Q10. What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?

    A. I would have to say the internet. I remember having to search through the old smelly encyclopedias when I was in school. Not anymore! Google it.

Want to meet other members of our staff? Catch up on past Meet the EN Team posts!