Recipe for a Fun Plane in Blender

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Check out our new recipe for designing a fun plane in Blender, which you can make with your children!

Tools:

A computer

The Swiss army knife among 3D software: Blender!

A few minutes

1 brain (or more)

 

Ingredients:

2 spheres

2 cones

Salt, pepper…

 

Here we go!

  • Delete the cube (Right-click on it and press X + Enter).
  • Add the first sphere (Shift + A and select the UV Sphere in the Mesh list).
  • Rotate it 90° following the X axes (R+X+90).
  • Quadruple the size following the Y axes to create the fuselage (S+Y+4).
  • Go to Edit Mode (press the Tab key).
  • Select and delete the two extremities of the fuselage (in side view, Press B to activate the “Box Select” tool).
  • Go back to Object Mode.
  • If you want, you can decrease the size following the X axes (S+X+0.5) to make the fuselage narrower.
  • Give some thickness to the fuselage using the Solidify Modifier (thickness value = 0.2).
  • Add the second sphere (Shift+A and select the UV Sphere in the Mesh list).
  • Decrease the size by half (S+0.5).
  • Make it longer in the Y axes (S+Y+1.5).
  • Move it upward (G+Z+1 or more).
  • Move it a little bit toward the front of the fuselage (G+Y+”-1”). Only the top half of your second sphere should be visible.
  • Add the first cone (Shift+A and select the Cone in the Mesh list).
  • Rotate it 90° following the X axes (R+X+90).
  • Quadruple the size (S+4).
  • To create the wings, decrease the height of it (S+Z+0.2 or 0.3).
  • If you want wider wings, increase the width (S+X+1.5 or 2).
  • To create the tailfin of your plane, duplicate the first cone (Right-click on it, press Shift+D, press Enter).
  • Rotate your new “flat cone” 90° following the Y axes (R+Y+90).
  • Decrease the size (S+0.5).
  • Move it backward until the vertical part of the tailfin and the horizontal back part of the wings create a perfectly flat cross along the X axes (G+Y and move your cursor toward the back of the plane).
  • Move the tailfin upward until you get a nice fin.
  • Select the fuselage, the cockpit, the wings and the tailfin together (Right-click on the first one, while holding the Shift key pressed, Right-click on the three other parts).
  • Press “Control J” to join these four parts together to form a unique object.
  • Your plane is ready and looks like it is made of many facets, like a cut crystal.
  • If you want it with a smoother surface, use the Subdivision Surface Modifier (View value of 2 or 3 should be ok).

Good job!

To get the best result with your printer, print your plane the nose upward and its rear part on the bed of your printer. Enjoy!

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!

 

The Not Yet So Obvious Benefits of 3D Modeling for 3D Printing

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3D printing technology makes progress every day. It reaches more and more areas in our lives. In the years to come, it will be a common thing to get something through a 3D printing service. Today I would like to spark a new idea in your mind and the mind of your children.

3D printing just a few years from now

Imagine for a minute your kids have grown up a little bit. You are about to build a new house in the countryside, on the seaside or in the mountain (or anywhere else you would like to have your new house). You are having a meeting with your architect to decide how to design your house. He tells you all the requirements for energy efficiency, comfort and safety. Suddenly, he looks at your child and asks him:

“Do you know how to create 3D model for 3D printing?”

You are surprised. The architect goes on:

“As you probably know, building technology has improved greatly these last years. I was wondering if your child could design his own living area, so we can 3D print his model for him. You too could model some parts of your house to make it unique.”

Two scenarios

Now, dear parents, you have two possible situations:

Situation 1: Your child and/or yourself have never created anything in 3D. Needless to say, something specifically for 3D printing.

Situation 2: Your child and you have already practiced several times 3D modelling for 3D printing. You had lots of fun and have already several Family Made 3D printed objects at home.

In which situation would you like to be? 1 or 2? I would personally prefer the second situation.

Maybe you are telling yourself:

“Patrick is a nice guy, but it will be long before we can do this kind of thing, like modeling all or parts of our living area.”

Really? Think about it. Building constraints have considerably changed. New concrete allows funny shapes as strong and durable as reinforced concrete without iron rods. 3D printing technologies specifically for the building industry are popping all around the world. They progress quickly. Sooner than you think, you will be able to 3D print the house of your dream.

My advice for today

Begin as soon as possible to think about your new house in the shape of a concert grand piano or the shape of a delicious mango.

What is Open Innovation and how does it work?

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If our children can prototype a product idea or innovation to manufacturing companies, how would these corporate Open Innovation programs work? As I mentioned in my earlier blogs, we can work with our children to license an idea to a company who would pay us a royalty to help with the children’s college fund. But critical to this process is to understand what Open Innovation is and how it works.

Defining Open Innovation

First, you should know that the person who popularized the term was Dr. Henry Chesbrough, who currently teaches at the Haas Business School, UC Berkeley, in his 2003 book, “Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology.” In a more recent Forbes magazine article, he provided a (rather academic) definition: Open innovation is “the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.”

The catalyst

 

Personally, I prefer Wikipedia’s explanation: The central idea behind open innovation is that, in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions (i.e. patents) from other companies.

 

Pluses and minuses

Of course, there are advantages as well as disadvantages for companies that engage in Open Innovation. Here is a partial list, also from the Wiki article:

Advantages

  • Reduced cost of conducting research and development
  • Potential for improvement in development productivity
  • Incorporation of customers early in the development process

Disadvantages

  • Possibility of revealing information not intended for sharing
  • Potential for the hosting organization to lose their competitive advantage as a consequence of revealing intellectual property
  • Increased complexity of controlling innovation and regulating how contributors affect a project

 

A key corporate trend

 

How it works

So how does Open Innovation work? While there are different methods, such as those sponsored by governments or competition based, the one we are most interested in is the “Collaborative product design and development” model. Here, a company still controls and maintains the production of the final product, but it is sharing the sales revenue with external co-designers (that’s you!) because you have found a way to make the product more usable and thereby more acceptable in the market. By using an outside co-designer, but maintaining production control, companies can get their new products to the market faster than just relying on their internal R&D departments. You will need to find ways to protect your own ideas, which I will discuss in the next blog.

 

Who’s practicing Open Innovation?

We want to look for inventor friendly companies or companies that are in industries that are constantly looking for new ideas to stay ahead. Here is a list of “15 Examples of Open Innovation between Big Companies & Startups.” And here is a very long list of “Inventor Friendly Companies.”

Looking at these two lists, which include even massive companies like GE, it should be very clear that Open Innovation is a key trend for many industries. This is because corporations understand that that we are living in information and technological boom times and they need to be part of that or risk falling behind.

For us parents with kids, with the cost of prototyping MUCH lower than just 5-10 years go, thanks to 3D printing technology, I think our children’s creativity need not be restricted to homework assignments, when they can be applied in the real world! The children provide the creative spark and we provide the discipline to make a very natural alliance that will hopefully and eventually help the children in their future education pursuits. What do you think?!

The Modifiers Bracelet, a nice model created for 3D printers

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Want to learn how to make this “modifier” bracelet?

The video below will teach you how to create this and other similar bracelets using the Modifier tools in Blender, which you can then 3D print!