Category Archives: Edison Nation

Another Idea Licensed to PetStages, Congratulations Cheryl and Donald Benson!

PetStages toy

Does the company PetStages ring a bell? Last October, we shared the news that Michael Diep’s Emery Cat had been licensed to PetStages after a long and successful stint at retail as an As Seen on TV product. This month, Edison Nation married inventor duo, Donald and Cheryl Benson’s invention was selected for licensing from our Open Search and is well on its way to commercialization.

PetStages toy

Donald and Cheryl first came up with their idea on a factory tour where they were overseeing the molding for another invention, Eclipse Ball. Eclipse Ball is played in schools nationwide and will soon be taught in 58 counties through a partnership with a Canadian Company.

Like Eclipse Ball, Donald and Cheryl first tried marketing this invention to the Physical Education market. While the product went on to clinching a gold medal in an international invention convention in 2006, they ultimately weren’t able to find a licensing partner on their own.

Enter Everyday Edisons and Edison Nation. The Bensons pitched their idea to us at an Everyday Edisons casting call in Chicago, but unfortunately the idea wasn’t selected for the show. The idea was later submitted to the Edison Nation Open Search where our licensing team saw value in pitching the idea as not only a toy or sport, but also as a pet product.

Congratulations, Cheryl and Donald!

Have an idea you’d like to submit to an Innovation Search?

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

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We exist to get product ideas out of your head and onto retail shelves, all at no risk to you.

 

InvENtor Spotlight: A Q&A with Chris Cooper

For our May Inventor Spotlight Q&A we talked to Christopher Cooper, a relatively new Edison Nation community member and inventor who joined in January of 2014. While he hasn’t had any of his product ideas selected for licensing or As Seen on TV commercialization just yet, his dedication and approach to ideation and product development tells us it’s only a matter of time.

Where is your hometown?

St. Louis, Missouri, is where I was born in 1957.

 

Where do you currently reside?

Los Angeles, California

 

What is your professional background?

I’m a former Marine, and currently a fire captain with the L. A. Fire Department, public safety expert and an entrepreneur. I’m also an inventor with a portfolio of innovations that I will be developing as I transition from full time firefighter to the private sector.

 

How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?

I belong to a great group of entrepreneurs in L.A.. One of the members of that group recommended EN to me. After researching Edison Nation I was impressed by the model and the value proposition stated in the EN materials. This is what propelled me to commit to EN. After a patent application is forwarded to the USPTO, a firm is inundated with solicitations from a variety of product development companies. After looking into EN I found that EN was by far the most credible in what they were proposing.

 

You indicate in your past posts that you are a firefighter AND a product developer, can you provide some additional details about your company and what you are working on (crowdfunding, etc.)

Edison Nation inventorMy company, Cooper Product Corporation, is an innovator in automotive microfiber air fresheners.

As a Los Angeles firefighter who specializes in safety, production and innovation, I conceive, develop, test, and create fun, safe and useful products for general personal and professional use in companies’ and people’s everyday lives. My Los Angeles-based Cooper Product is open to new ideas, partnerships and investment, too. At this moment we are marketing our microfiber air freshener that we believe will be a legacy product for our firm. As the government and the automakers trend toward the connected car of the future I believe that Cooper Product can optimize the environment inside the car with our product line.

We currently export our products from three fulfillment centers. My firm is dedicated to achieving excellence in everything we do. My purpose is to create the best products with excellence, pride and enjoyment to improve everyone’s life. I’d love to hear from those who’d like to know more.

Edison Nation inventor

Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s) on a project? If so, how was that experience for you?

Not yet, though I’m certain I could be enthusiastic about that prospect. Most people outside the innovative community are unaware of the commitment involved with bringing a product to the market. As we know as members of EN the commitment involves time, personal resources, family commitment, and the drive to stick with a concept when others are not on board with your vision.

 

What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently in innovation?

I’ve noticed an increased awareness of intelligent, integrated and thoughtfully organic branding, which is good for my business. The best thinkers want to put their names, brands and logos on something of similar quality and caliber. This makes Cooper Product’s line of fun, useful everyday goods a perfect fit.

The hardware side of manufacturing is moving at lightning speed with 3D printing, holograms, and fast fail approaches to innovation. Performance management processes are also becoming more prevalent in the innovation arena.

I’ve also noticed over the last 5-10 years that companies are reaching out to individual inventors to create products for them. Instead of employing large R&D the big firms are using independent inventors as a cost effective source of innovation.

 

Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?

Both and often in an evolution that shuttles between the two; the idea comes to me after I’ve gone after it within a certain, imaginative context – playing out specific scenarios with my team.

My best ideas result from observing people who are challenged in a certain way. I then look for that behavior to repeat itself, at which time I will devise a solution. If the concept is marketable I will pursue it onto paper in a formal template for further study. I read a huge amount of material, both research level periodicals and magazines, attend seminars, trade shows, interact with a diverse sector of people and glean as much information as I can. For example, when I was developing our mini shoe version of the microfiber air freshener our team surveyed and found that the default sneaker for millennials is the Chuck Taylor Allstar by Converse. Naturally our initial offering for our mini shoe product was built on the Converse style. I always respect the intellectual property (IP) of other firms so when I develop, this product it is with the utmost care toward respecting the original creativity.

Edison Nation inventor

What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?

I’ve lived an interesting life, so I’m full of good stories. I also think variety, playfulness and a sense of joy are crucial to living and doing business, so I like to observe people in action, make new friends and participate and spectate in sports.

 

What inspired you to start inventing?

An intense interest in advancing human life, though I didn’t think of it that way all the time. The idea of progress gets me thinking, solving problems, creating, building and making improvements. The possibility of creating an item that can result in employment for others is a driver for me. The idea that you can develop a process, product or item and get tangible credit i.e. a patent for the idea is also attractive. And finally, the possibility that you can benefit financially is also inspiring.

 

When did you come up with your first great idea?

When I was about 9 years old I devised an advertising board that I see on the side lines of major sporting events now. Unfortunately at the time I had no idea about the intellectual property process. Since then I have rarely let an idea pass without putting it through the innovation template.

 

You are a recent EN member, joining in early 2014, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?

Edison Nation is a fountainhead of rewarding sources, encouragement, information, camaraderie and enriching experiences. I like that it’s named after one of the world’s greatest thinkers, entrepreneurs and inventors. I also like that it’s a group based on an idea, innovation, which drives my company. I also appreciate the fact that Edison Nation is really a think tank of like minded experienced people who can assist all levels of inventors successfully elevate their products to the market. Either through licensing, manufacturing or other avenues EN is a great resource. I also enjoy the fact EN has a magazine that I can refer to on the fly for great information.
Thank you, Christopher, for taking time to share details around your journey and your Edison Nation story so far!

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15 Websites to Help You Stay Tuned-In to Industry Trends

As if inventors didn’t have enough to stew over, today’s consumers are faced with a record number of options in most product categories. The competition for shelf space and brand loyalty is fierce. In today’s society, it isn’t a matter of whether or not a consumer needs your invention—after all, they’ve somehow survived this long without it—but if they want it.

The good news? Consumers are also more fickle than ever. Consumers are becoming less brand loyal and are more likely to try new products based on cost and perceived value. When submitting your invention ideas to our As Seen on TV (ASOTV) Open Search, general Open Search, or any partner-sponsored Innovation Searches, be sure to consider industry trends. The ability to not only innovate around current industry trends, but also proactively forecast future trends is key to successfully bringing a product idea to market.

Here’s a list of 15 websites to help stay abreast consumer product industry trends:

Cool Pet Products

Pet industry trends
The definitive online destination for the modern and contemporary pet industry.

Kitchen Boy

kitchenware industry trends
Useful reviews and informative commentary about new and existing kitchen products.

Pro Tool Reviews

tool industry trends
The dream website for any tradesman, publishing professional reviews and industry tool news

Trendir

home decor industry trends
Your destination for the latest home décor trends including the newest products and design ideas.

Appliancist

kitchen appliance industry trends
The go-to site for the trends and news of all home appliances

Reyne Rice

toy industry trends
Website and blog of Reyne Rice, toy industry trend expert/analyst, consultant, and media spokesperson.

Ambalaj

packaging industry trends
A packaging design blog founded in 2008 providing a rich source of information and inspiration.

Heal’s Reveals

interior design industry trends
An interior design blog revealing trends & inspirations behind modern, designer and contemporary furniture, lighting and home accessories.

Motor Trend

motor industry trends
Up to date information on everything in the automobile world.

WearTekk

wearable industry trends
Independent blog covering the trends, news and real demo of the wearable technologies.

Coochicoos

Baby industry trends
Blog reporting on the growing modern design trends happening for baby decor, furniture, fashion, and baby gear.

The SciMark Report

ASOTV industry trends
Blog reporting short-form DRTV, or As Seen on TV (ASOTV) products.

The Fashion Spot

Fashion industry trends
Social forum known for intelligent, honest and uncompromising discussions on all aspects of the fashion industry.

iHealthBeat

healthcare industry trends
A free, daily news digest reporting on technology’s impact on health care

Cool Material

men's industry trends
Men’s shopping blog covering the latest in gear, gadgets, style, technology and more.

So, what are your favorite industry product trends? Are you familiar or would recommend any of the sites we’ve listed here? Let us know in the comments below!


 

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

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We exist to get product ideas out of your head and onto retail shelves, all at no risk to you.

Edison Nation ASOTV is Looking for Interactive Pet Toys and Egg Products

First, Everyday Edison and Edison Nation member Michael Diep invented the Emery Cat. Then, Edison Nation member, Betsy Kaufman, invented Eggies. Now, we’re tasking you to come up with the next interactive pet toy and egg hit As Seen on TV products.

submit ASOTV invention

From time to time the Edison Nation ASOTV team will identify certain trends in the As Seen on TV industry for our community to innovate around. Click the images below to learn more about each search and to submit your invention idea.

ASOTV idea As Seen on TV submit

 

 


 

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

License Product License product License product

We exist to get product ideas out of your head and onto retail shelves, all at no risk to you.

Inventing 101: The Basics of Priority Claims

Welcome back! This month we are discussing the basics of a very important, but often misunderstood, aspect of United States patent law: Priority Claims.

Priority claims are integral to the patent process. A priority claim on a patent application provides an applicant with an earlier date from which an invention is protected. This is important because subsequent patent applications will come with their own individual filing dates, and those applications, without priority claims, are protected only from those individual filing dates. Earlier effective filing dates reduce the number of prior art disclosures, increasing the likelihood of obtaining a patent.

 

patent claims

 

Priority claims and the America Invents Act

Effective March 2013, the Leahy–Smith America Invents Act (AIA) fundamentally changed the way in which innovation may be protected in the U.S. In short, the AIA changed the U.S. from a “first to invent” jurisdiction to a “first to file” jurisdiction. Prior to the AIA, an inventor could rely on his or her notes or other evidence showing the conception of an invention to help protect his or her patent rights. Today, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) will deem the first inventor to file a patent application as having priority over any later-filed application for the same invention.

What this essentially means is that two inventors with the same idea must race to file for patent protection. If one inventor conceived the idea for the invention slightly before the other, this fact is essentially irrelevant in the eyes of the USPTO. While this was a huge change from our prior patent system, most of the developed world had been operating under this system for many years with great success.

 

america invents act

 

For example, many inventors file a provisional patent application (PPA) prior to filing a utility (or other applicable non-provisional) patent application. The PPA expires 1 year from filing, so an inventor must file said utility patent application prior to that expiration date. If the inventor wishes to pursue a patent application, he or she will file a patent application “claiming priority” to the PPA. What this does is give the inventor protection all the way back to the filing date of the PPA. This also becomes important when dealing with foreign patent applications. In the event a PPA is filed, any foreign patent applications claiming priority to the PPA must be filed prior to the 1 year expiration. While the filing of a patent application, foreign or domestic, is not dependent on having a claim of priority or PPA, these are the ways in which priority claims first arise for most inventors.

Now, let’s imagine that the inventor did not file a non-provisional patent application claiming priority to the PPA prior to the 1 year deadline. This means that an inventor who filed a PPA or non-provisional application for the same invention, during that same 1 year period, can now be considered the first to file inventor for the invention. PPAs are not examined by the PTO, so they do not offer any rights aside from the 1 year period to file a non-provisional application which dates back to that original PPA filing date. Even if the original inventor files a new PPA, the original filing date is gone, and the new PPA restarts a new 1 year clock.

So, why are priority claims important?

In summary, inventors must always be aware of priority claims, as they have the power to greatly strengthen IP protection for a given invention. However, failing to utilize them properly can have disastrous results.  If you would like to read more about priority claims, the statutes are available on the USPTO’s website under Section 211 of the Manual for Patent Examination and Procedure, also known as the MPEP.

As always, it is best to consult a licensed patent attorney to ensure your rights are protected, as they have the knowledge and expertise necessary to guide you through the complex patent application process.

I hope you have found this helpful and informative, and I look forward to seeing you back again next month for the latest installment. Happy Inventing!

 

Have an idea you’d like considered for a licensing deal or ASOTV commercialization?

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

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We exist to get product ideas out of your head and onto retail shelves, all at no risk to you.

From G1-G8: Mastering Stages 4 and 5 of the Invention Submission Process

Whether you are new to Edison Nation or a seasoned inventor, submitting your idea into our system is the first step in being considered for a licensing deal. As you may know, every invention idea submitted to one of our searches is reviewed through a complex, eight-stage process to determine its likelihood of licensing success.

So, what is the secret? What do you need to do to achieve a G5 or more? In March, we started a blog series where we give you a look into what happens when your idea is shared with the Edison Nation review team. In this post, we are going to review Stages 4 and 5 AND provide some hints and tips to get you to your next green check mark and one step closer to successfully licensing your invention idea.

Green check button

In Stage 4, we’re taking a deeper dive to determine if your idea is better than competing products that already exist in the market.

We’re looking to answer the following questions about your invention:

  • Does this product idea offer an easier, more efficient solution than what already exists?
  • Will this product idea be able to compete with products already in the market?
  • Does the product idea have mass market appeal, offering a fresh and innovative solution that will resonate with consumers?

Stage 4 is where research plays a major role. We cannot stress the value of doing the proper research around your idea before sending it to us. When working on an idea, you should consider the key fundamental feature/benefit and value add of your idea.

Ask yourself this question: Have I developed a product concept that sets itself apart from potential market competitors?

When conducting research please be as specific as you can describing exactly how an innovation not only differs from something on the market or disclosed in an issued patent, but how it is better. Even if your idea is different than competing products that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are going to stop what they’ve been using and pick up yours. It need to be better and provide more value.

But where to begin? What are some best practices for performing competitive research?

Walking into Wal-Mart and not seeing anything resembling your idea does not mean it does not exist. Indicating in your submission that you have looked everywhere and it does not exist is also not a great qualifier. Often the team can find several similar items with a simple Google search. The keyword here is similar. When we compare your idea to what’s currently out on the market, we’re not necessarily looking for identical concepts. We are trying to see how your idea stands up against what’s currently there or what could potentially break new ground. Think of it this way, consumers have lived this long without your idea, so it’s not whether or not they need it, but do they want it?

Expand your thoughts when doing research and try not be so focused that you miss other leads. Other methods to explore beyond store visits and internet searching can include other names, phrases and terms that might apply to your product. For example: a water gun – It can be called a squirt gun, super soaker, aqua blaster and more. Using a thesaurus, looking for synonyms and similar tools, can also help.

If you do find competing products during your research, make sure you are identifying how your idea is “better than” or “more efficient” in a way that will clearly carve out a market share and be worthy of the required development/marketing dollars. Can your product idea be manufactured more efficiently? Can your product idea be produced at a lower cost than existing competitors? When the Edison Nation Review team evaluates your invention they will consider the potential return on investment and sales volume given existing items in the space and market size. These are all components you should be able to estimate and have an understanding of after conducting your initial research.

Another question to ask yourself relates to the appeal of your product idea: Have I addressed a potential everyday situation where my product will offer up an easier, more efficient solution?

In Stage 4, we are also looking to ensure your product idea will appeal to a core demographic group who will ultimately purchase it. Does your idea have to appeal to 100% of the population? The answer is no. But it does have to appeal to the majority of members of a market group.

 

Some examples different types of market groups:

Men

Women

Mothers

Kids

Athletes

Office workers

Students

…and the list goes on.

 

As you can see from the short list above, market groups can be large or niche. Make sure your product idea meets meet a significant need, problem or pain point identified by your target customer. If the review team determines your idea can hold its own against existing products and will appeal to a mass market, welcome to G4!

invention submission

In Stage 5, we’re reviewing your idea’s merit in its respective industry in terms of market potential and price point. We’re looking to answer the following questions:

  • What is the estimated maximum sales revenue of all suppliers of the product during a specific time period?
  • Can the product be manufactured in an efficient, cost-effective manner?

During this stage, we conduct extensive market research in order to determine that the cost to manufacture, ship and sell this product is relevant to the perceived value that a consumer would expect to pay for the item. In other words, we want to ensure the product will be profitable once it hits store shelves. Ideally, products should be able to be made inexpensively and quickly. Remember, the higher the profitability, the more likely your product will be licensed. In your submission, be sure to include an estimated price point and target demographic to help us determine market and revenue potential.

While there are a variety of factors that can contribute to the overall cost of your product, some variables to consider are the type of material being used to create your product and the potential tooling costs associated with manufacturing the product. We need to be able to justify to potential licensing partners that the product can be made to fit within their current margins.

In addition to evaluating for cost in Stage 5, we review the process of how your idea can be made. Once a product design is realized, engineers need to determine how to execute that idea to make it a reality. Our goal is to ensure your idea can be manufactured quickly and efficiently. Our Licensing team needs to be able to easily convey how product can be incorporated into a partner’s existing product line. Remember, the quicker and more efficiently a product can be produced, the faster your royalty checks will start rolling in. If your idea will be a good fit from a cost and engineering perspective with potential partners, you’ll sail into a G5!

invention licensing

The next post will take a closer look at what happens during Stage 6, Intellectual Property Review.


We hope this information provides a bit more insight into what we look for and we look forward to reviewing your idea soon! Happy Inventing!


 

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

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We exist to get product ideas out of your head and onto retail shelves, all at no risk to you.

Bill Oates’ Invention Selected from Pony Tools Innovation Search

inventor

Please join us in congratulating Edison Nation member, Bill Oates, whose invention idea has been selected by Pony Tools! Pony Tools, who is in the business of manufacturing, selling and merchandising quality workbench and handheld tools, sponsored an Innovation Search held in December in hopes of finding and licensing handheld tools, specifically clamps, from the Edison Nation community.

Bill, who is a Memphis native, currently resides in Franklin, Tennessee with his wife and three daughters. As a Graphic Designer, Bill started out in creative advertising and later became an assistant creative director at a design firm. In 1987, he founded Oates Graphic Design & Illustration, which later became Oates Design.

Bill is no stranger to the world of licensing. In 2004, he licensed one of his ideas that later became the best-selling NFL-licensed product in history and still is: a digital clock called the Scoreboard, sold in almost all NFL, NCAA configurations, many MLB, NHL and NBA team configurations, in three sizes, and an alarm clock.

In 2008, he created an alarm clock for Elvis Presley enterprises that alarmed with Elvis songs. Bill designed the product, created the packaging, contracted with the sound-alike artist, and even negotiated the rights to the songs.

While Bill’s advertising design company still serves existing clients, he has since focused his time as a real estate business broker and submitting invention ideas to Edison Nation.

“Relentlessly pursue your passion. But, this does not mean continue to push an idea that sucks.” – Bill Oates

Congratulations, Bill!

Have an idea you’d like to submit to an Innovation Search?

inventors

 

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

License Product License product License product

We exist to get product ideas out of your head and onto retail shelves, all at no risk to you.

InvENtor Spotlight: A Q&A with Eric Huber

For our April Inventor Q&A, we had a talk with Edison Nation member and an “Everyday Edison”, Eric Huber!

Eric has been a member of EN since 2008, has submitted over 100 ideas and received FOUR G8s, most notably for his Germ Master product, which was selected for development and testing by the Edison Nation As Seen on TV team.


Eric Huber
3D rendering

Eric is not only passionate about his product ideas, he has been a huge advocate of the rights of the independent inventor. He has gone to Washington, DC, on more than one occasion to fight for the patent rights of inventors.

Here is a little more about Eric:

 

Where is your hometown?

I was born in Bellevue, Washington…grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

 

Where do you currently reside?

I have lived in San Juan Capistrano, California since 1998.

 

What is your professional background?

Most of the businesses I have started and have worked for, have involved sales and/or management duties. I started my own company at 16, a couple more along the way, sold copiers, worked for Reebok and designed children’s playgrounds.

 

How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?

I met Louis Foreman at a tradeshow in 2008.  He was speaking about inventing. I introduced myself and he invited me to Charlotte and introduced me to Edison Nation as a community perfect for an inventor like myself.

 

You have done a lot of work with Louis in Washington DC to protect the rights of independent inventors – can you explain what you have campaigned for, what the current bill will change for independent inventors and why you feel the fight is important?

Let me say first that being asked to be part of this effort has been the biggest honor of my career as an inventor. I have pushed to help personalize and put a face of the independent inventor. We are fighting for maintaining and making improvements to the current patent system that will not claim us inventors as an unintended (or intended) causality.

inventor's rights

We see great efforts to mislead the public and lawmakers regarding the state of abusive behavior and resulting litigation. The facts have been distorted and studies debunked. We believe that changes in the patent system should be narrowly focused to address the abusive behavior and not so broad so to reduce our ability to enforce, ultimately diminish the value of our patents and affect our ability to license. 

We believe that frivolous litigation can be reduced through improving the patent quality and this includes a more predictable, consistent process. This can be done, in part, by fully-funding the USPTO, allowing them to retain the proceeds from fees; and investing in a greater number and higher quality examiners, including being able to reduce turnover and improve compensation.

inventor's rights 

Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s) on a project? If so, how was that experience for you?

I have tried, but found, for me, inventing a solo sport. We inventors are often set in our ways and very particular about our ideas. It is not to say that I don’t reach out to my inventor confidants for advice and input, just not full collaboration. 

I am excited about what I am calling Eric 2.0. A new collaboration team consisting of an engineer/prototyper, IP experts and inventor BFFs. This will take my idea offerings to a new level, providing better prototypes, IP plan, and focus, enabling me to concentrate on ideation and licensing.

 

What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently?

The good news is that most companies have either a formal or informal process for evaluating our inventions. However, one thing I am seeing is a greater reluctance by prospective licensees to sign NDAs.

I believe in the open-innovation environment. There are so many ideas that fly around, and companies are concerned about signing an NDA for fear that they might be already considering a similar idea. Due to the tight economy and limited disposable incomes, companies are very picky about what products they invest in to commercialize. 

On the other hand, there are so many more ways to test and market products direct to consumers.

 

Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?

I experience both, but am more successful when an idea comes to me. As I live life, I experience wants and needs.  When I develop solutions to these I find myself more successful. This is not to say that good ideas won’t come when I am given a need and tasked to invent a solution, just not as often.

 

What advice would you tell others hoping to score a licensing deal of their own?

One of my biggest pieces of advice is to treat inventing and licensing as a business. Be professional, courteous and have realistic expectations. It is a numbers name in both the idea generation and in finding licensing deals. Make a list of prospective licensees through online searches and (my favorite) from roaming the aisles of retailers. Also, practice your pitch on “throw away companies”. These are companies that you don’t mind getting a “no thank you” from. Learn to be patient. It can take years from conception to store shelves. Be focused, but flexible. I don’t believe in the “do whatever it takes” approach. Perseverance is important, but you need to know when to cut your losses and move on.  And finally, ask for help.  No one can do everything on their own. A great thing about the EN and general inventor community is how there are so many with experience and amazing talents that are so willing to give advice.

 

What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?

I don’t know about “fun”, but here goes. I moved to LA in the 80’s to become a soap opera star and boy do I have a lot of stories.  I wake every weekday morning at 3:33 am (my BFFs know the reasoning behind that time) and begin with a 3 mile walk at the ocean to clear my head and solve the world’s problems (or invent a way to remove the last of the shampoo left in the bottle). I have about 120 inventions with sell sheets in my portfolio, from a way to help women zip up their dresses to a revolutionary way to de-salinize seawater.

I am training to set a world record involving balancing things on body parts.

If you are a Facebook friend you will know that I like to wear Crocs and sweater vests because I don’t care what people think. I collect dirt from around the world and animation cells. I have traveled to about 40 countries, experiencing them in different ways from luxury cruises to hitch-hiking with a back-pack.

inventor 

 

What inspired you to start inventing?

I have always enjoyed making things to solve problems. This started a very early age. I have recorded my ideas from a very early age. It is hilarious looking back at my “problems” that needed solutions. Like in 5th grade when girls would kick my shins under the lunch table because they liked me…or a way to clean out the cat pan like once a month. A solution was not found for either of these.

 

When did you come up with your first great idea?

Honestly, I don’t think any of my ideas are or have been great. I have learned that for every person that thinks my idea is great, there are others that think it is not..and vice-versa. My first idea that was better-than-average was about 8th grade.

 

You have been an EN member since 2008, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?

I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Louis Foreman and EN, I probably would not have the drive and passion for inventing that I enjoy today. Through the conversations, education, four G8 journeys and about 80 R8s, I have honed my inventing skills, developed confidence and meet many amazing people.


We thank Eric for taking time to share his journey, and for all he does inside and outside the EN Community…and as far as those soap opera stories, that’s a post for another day…

 

Want to see your idea on store shelves?

inventors

 

 


 

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

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We exist to get product ideas out of your head and onto retail shelves, all at no risk to you.

ProtoTYPING: Six Things You Didn’t Know You Can 3D Print

3D systems printer

3D printers are crucial to most successful product development projects. They can make strong parts in just hours, and can build parts over night while designers and engineers rest. While it is obvious that 3D prints are well suited to making prototype parts for consumer products made of plastic, there are a few other applications and materials that are lesser known.

Here are a few things that you may not have realized you could make with a 3D printer:

 

3D Print Metal

While consumer level printers primarily print plastics, there are professional machines that can make 3D prints from metal. Most consumer 3D printers work by driving plastic filament through a heated head that melts the plastic as the print head moves to form the object. They are basically a motorized hot glue gun. This is easy to do with the relatively low melt temperatures of PLA and ABS, but there are significant technology hurdles to doing this with molten metal. So, most metal 3D printers use a process called direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) which uses a laser to melt a fine metal powder to create the layers. DMLS is available with a variety of materials including aluminum, bronze, stainless steel and titanium, and is able to produce parts that are over 99% as dense as an equivalent volume of billet material. While the process can be pricey, small parts like jewelry or small gears with low material volume can be printed through many 3D printing services for reasonable prices.

 

3D printing metal

A batch of DMLS metal parts from PRweb.com.

 

 

3D Print Fetuses and Baby Bumps

It is now possible to get 3D prints of your unborn child from ultra sound data. Traditional ultrasounds emit high frequency sound waves into the womb and the reflected sound data is converted into an image. The waves are emitted in a plane, so the image is 2 dimensional. However, 3D ultrasounds emit the sound waves at different angles and a computer algorithm triangulates the reflections to create an image that looks 3D. These have been around for while, but recently a firm called 3D Babies has created a site where you can upload the 3D ultrasound data and order a 3D print of it. You can pick your position, skin color, and one of two sizes, and they will send it to you in a wooden box.

3D babies

3D printed fetuses from 3d-babies.com

 

Another way to capture the magic of pregnancy is to 3D scan and print the pregnant belly. Many pregnant women take selfies at weekly intervals during pregnancy, and 3D scanning is a natural extension and a lot less creepy than ultrasound imaging. I did this while my partner, Kerry, was pregnant just a couple of months ago. I used a 3D Systems Sense scanner and scanned her belly. Then I did some light editing in the Sense software and made a 3D print on my Printrbot.

3D scan pregnant belly

A 3D printable scan of my partner Kerry’s bump just before my daughter, Ivy, was born

 

 

3D Print Medical Devices and Implants

The applications of 3D printing for in the medical field are growing every week as doctors are finding new ways of applying the technology. Dentists have been using 3D technology for years to make retainers and other orthodontia. However, 3D printing is being used more and more for implantable devices to make complicated surgeries easier. Recently doctors in China did a vertebrae replacement surgery with 3D printed titanium parts. The patients damaged vertebrae was scanned and the doctors were able to design a custom replacement that matched up perfectly to the undamaged part of the spine. There are also many applications for wearable 3D printed medical devices like custom scoliosis braces and wrist guards.

back brace 3d print

Custom scoliosis brace printed by 3D Systems

 

 

3D Print Clothes

Wearables are another high growth category in 3D printing. Most of the innovation in the space is being driven by fashion designers. As they learn the technology and its capabilities, they are coming up with new ways to improve the form, fit, and feel of 3D printed garments. One of the most innovative clothing designs is the Kinematics dress that was created by Nervous System in Massachusetts. The dress features thousands of interlocking plastic 3D print pieces snapped together. The result is a garment the flows and moves with the body like a fabric.

fashion 3D printing

Kinematics Dress from Nervous (n-e-r-v-o-u-s.com)

 

 

3D Print Camera Gear

Just about every hobby that requires equipment can be enhanced with 3D printing. Photography is very gear-centric and there are plenty of ways to enhance your photography capability with 3D printing. With the popularity of DSLR video on the rise, there are a lot of 3D printed parts to help. There are microphone stands, panning dollies and even shoulder rigs that can be built from a mixture of 3D printed and aluminum parts. While these are interesting, my favorite camera accessory to print is a bokeh filter. Bokeh is the intentionally out of focus background of photos with a narrow depth of field. Normally the shape of the bokeh is circular or slightly polygonal due to the shape that the aperture blades make when they come together. However, the shape of the bokeh can be changed by adding a filter to the front of the lens and can create some cool effects. I made a heart shaped bokeh filter 3D print on my Cube 2 printer and took a picture of a batch of roll of Christmas lights to show the effect.

bokeh photograph Bokeh camera

 

 

3D Print Yourself

Printing products and parts is neat, but it is also possible to create personalized prints of you, or your friends and family. One of the coolest ways to do it is the 3DMe service from Cubify.com, which allows you to put your face on a number of different bodies including sports stars, Ghostbusters, Star Trek and even brides or grooms. All you do is upload photo of a face, choose the body, and they print the model for you.

3D print yourself

The world of 3D printing is ever-changing. There are many different types of printers, technologies and new applications being created for them every day. Some require high end machines and professional grade equipment, but there are some neat things that can be done with a commercial grade printer or ordered through a printing service. Hopefully these techniques inspire your next 3D printed project.

 


 

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