The Wonderful Connection between Cooking and 3D Printing

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If you are a parent who enjoys cooking with your children, we are totally convinced you will also enjoy 3D printing with them as well. After playing around with 3D modeling software for the last four years, and more recently posting videos on social media with my daughter about 3D printing with kids, I can say without a doubt that the steps to cooking any dish follow the same process as creating a 3D print. You can think of both having “recipes.” Given this, I believe 3D printing can and will be a new type of family activity!

If you are still unconvinced, check this out.

1. Cooking ingredients as 3D modeling tools. Every dish you cook needs ingredients; every 3D model needs tools. You can’t make an omelet without eggs and you can’t make a 3D print without tools that can create or shape the model. In our “recipe” to make a simple table in Tinkercad, for example, you can examine the list of tools needed next to the table.

2. Cooking method as design steps. As any cookbook with show you, after you identify the ingredients, you need to follow the recipe steps in order to create your dish. Here are the steps to our Table.

 

There is a certain step-by-step order that you should follow to reach the final goal. When frying an egg, for example, you should add oil before adding the egg, not after. For our Tinkercad Table, you want to create the legs first because you need to see the squares in the Workplace to make sure all the legs line up, before creating the tabletop. Both cooking and 3D modeling should run in a quick and logical order. Check out this video, which shows you how we created the Tinkercad Table.

3. Your stovetop/oven as the 3D printer. Many parents and students I come across who are new to 3D printing expect 3D printers to produce a model as fast as a 2D paper printer. One day, the technology will get there. But for now, in order for a 3D printer to create a relatively thin 15 cubic centimeters (6 cubic inches) design, it would take almost an hour, which is about the time it takes to bake a cake. So both in cooking and 3D printing, you need some patience.

4. You can personalize! Ultimately, recipes are general guidelines and everyone can have their own version of a dish. Just think of many types of burgers or dumplings that are out there! So you can have a version of your own table, or any 3D model. The 3D modeling software, many of which are free, gives you that total freedom. For me, I love personalizing designs with my daughter because I can connect with her at logical and emotional levels as I have explained in a past blog. We personalize every model that we work on to our own tastes and preferences, like this video shows.

So, if you like cooking, give 3D printing a try! Your children will thank you for it!

 

 

How to protect your and your child’s product design ideas

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OK! After reading my recent posts where I laid out the idea that you and your family can use your children’s creativity to prototype product designs, you now need to know how you can protect your ideas so that you can potentially gain royalties for your children’s college funds. Here are five key ways.

Doing some homework

  1. Pick the right manufacturing company. My last post discussed industries that practice the concept of Open Innovation, where firms are willing to share profits with you provided you can help them design a better product. Are there companies that will try to steal from you? Of course! But that doesn’t mean you can’t find reputable ones either. Tap into a social media network, such as LinkedIn, that can shed light on how the company does business. At the least, find out if they’ve been sued. As there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of companies for each industry, there is no reason to tie yourself to any one of them unless you can trust them. Remember, it should be a win-win scenario for both sides.
  2. Understand how manufacturing works. The more you know how manufacturers in a particular industry produce and make money, the easier it will be to talk with them. Although you are not officially part of their R&D team, thinking and speaking as they do, especially in their own jargon, will give you a great advantage over other product designers who didn’t take the trouble to learn this. Remember that all manufacturers need to know how much your idea is going to cost them. If your idea doesn’t improve their bottom line, they have less of a reason to sign you up no matter how good your relationship is. Knowledge really is power and here, and knowing how manufacturing works will allow you to understand how your idea fits into the company’s overall strategy, thereby offering you a solid ground to stand on and hence a real form of protection.

  1. Create a paper trail. From the day you and your child come up with your product idea, take written notes on all improvements or modifications, all meetings with all relevant parties, and store them in a safe place. If a dispute or even a misunderstanding arrives, especially related to idea ownership, your written notes can provide an additional layer of protection. Consider it your “creativity diary” which you can write with your children, which I’m sure they will enjoy creating.
  2. Share your idea on a need-to-know basis. Until you apply for a provisional patent (see below), your idea is up for grabs. However, unless your idea is absolutely ground breaking in every field imaginable, I think most people are unlikely to take your specific idea to market given how this is not a sprint but a marathon. Nonetheless, you can protect yourself by just sharing your idea with those who can help you take it to the next stage.

  1. Apply for a Provisional Patent. This is a big topic that can fill a book because it also extends to full patents, not just a provisional one. For now, just be aware that anyone can file a Provisional Patent on-line in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a very cost effective USD65 to protect yourself for 12 months. This means if your product is made and sold, it can have “Patent Pending” stamped on it. This also means you could be getting a royalty fee for you and your child’s design work. I’ll discuss more on this topic in the future but you can start with this USPTO link targeted to families!