How to Go From Idea to Prototype in Weeks

Not too long ago, Char Hatch gave birth to India Scarlet, a baby girl.  A few months ago , she gave birth to a new idea. She wanted to create a lightweight bracelet for hair ties. After only weeks, she had her first prototype. Now, her product is on market, and she hopes to quadruple her income. Have a great idea? Here are some easy steps to get you from a good idea to a great prototype:

  1. Recognize a good idea.

Look for ideas that solve main points.  Take something fun to the extreme.  Char said she recognized a good idea after watching a video about it.  Good ideas can involve finding other good ideas and tweaking them

      2. Do research.  

Ask anyone you run into if he or she thinks your idea is a good.  Hold focus groups and see if people will choose your idea. Go out to stores and pay attention to what people are doing. You might discover that the product already exists.

    3. Talk to Experts.

People have done this before.  Get in contact with someone who can help.  Ask questions. It’s better to learn from someone else than from your own errors.

      4. Create A Model.

You can use various programs to model your product.  However, the best solution is to hire an expert.  We, and others like us, can design it for you. Said Char Hatch,“Custom Engineering came up with a blueprint for it and printed the sample for it. I
don’t know where else you could do that without it being expensive!”

      5. Print your Model.

You can get a prototype very quickly. Literally. When we helped Char, we had about four prototypes finished in 20 minutes. Some sources are expensive, but cheap options exist. Look for people in the community who own printers, and they can help.

Creating a product isn’t as difficult as you think. Don’t waste your time wondering if you might sell. Go out and do the work. Find out for yourself by researching and creating prototypes. Good ideas can change the world!


3D Print Your Halloween Costume (And More)


My husband has been 3D modeling since he was nine. He’s as advanced as they come.

I, however, am a newbie. I never tried it until  a year ago while taking a class from my hubby. At the time, I didn’t really understand what was going on, so I got a lot of assistance.

My real first attempt to model was for my Halloween costume last year.

I decided to be Sadness from Pixar’s Inside Out. Using a simple modeling program called TinkerCad, I created glasses for my costume. As you can see, my first attempt wasn’t the best (the glasses are WAY too small), but it worked!

Halloween is coming up again, and 3D printing is a great way to create your own unique costume or decorate a creepy front yard. You can 3D model something yourself, hire someone (like us), or  search through hundreds already created options on Thingiverse.

Here are some cool 3D printing Halloween ideas:

1-Accessorize your costume.

Colby 3D printed a hand for a two-year old boy missing one. The kid’s going to use it in real life too, but he decided the robohand needs to be part of his Halloween costume. Last I heard, he’s debating between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. If you don’t want to do the robot hand but want to stick with the Star Wars theme–consider printing a lightsaber or cool Darth Vader mask.

2-Print a Jack-O-Lantern instead of carving it.

Carving pumpkins is cool, but it can get messy with all the gooey guts and dangerously sharp knives. You want to enjoy Halloween’s scariness, not create fear with a severed finger. Last year, Colby taught kids  to 3D model by helping them design their own scary pumpkin faces. Here are the results!

3-Decorate your house.

Create a Halloween madhouse with spider webs, skeletons, and celebration plaques.  Whatever says Halloween to you, you can print it.

4-Go all out!

Why just accessorize your costume when you can print the whole darn thing?  Store bought costumes are just expensive, and, let’s face it, they don’t look nearly as good. DIY costumes are a popular alternative, so make it easy on yourself by letting a printer do all the work. And, if you don’t own a printer yourself, we’ll print it for you.

Brainstorming this list was fun, but I kept coming up with more creepy ideas! Halloween is a time to let the imagination run wild and free, after all. Why not print a Halloween basket to go with your kid’s outfit? Or, you could create eerie cookie cutters. Put crazy eyeballs on a cake. Create a spooky car antenna cap.

The possibilities are endless, so go out  and dream of something strange and unusual. Happy Halloween!

The STEM Dilemma: Girls in STEM

The USA has been unable to  fill demand for STEM employment despite growing needs. Right now, we have 500,000 unfilled jobs in STEM, but it is estimated to be 2.5 million by 2018.

While the majority of college graduates are female, more men pursue STEM-related careers than women, according to the White House website.  This lack of career pursuits keeps America from developing as rapidly as it might be. This problem could be resolved if MORE women  participated in STEM careers.

One way to address this problem is to engage and excite girls about STEM  topics when young. 3D printing is a great way to learn STEM skills like engineering, algebra and geometry. Studies show that girls are more interested  in STEM once applied  to ‘feminine’ topics  such as cosmetics or shopping. 

Colby gave some insights into girls in his 3D printing classes during a Q & A:

How many girls were in the 3D printing class?

Approximately 75 girls between 7-11 were in STEM class, 10-25%

What did they print?

Flowers, hearts, their names

Why were they taking class?

He asked EVERY girl and these were answers given.

  • For Fun
  • Future hopes of STEM career
  • Literally just to watch 3D printing
  • Wanted to learn to do 3D printing

What were some concern or dissatisfactions the girls experienced?

They all loved it. They felt disappointed that class wasn’t longer. The program had a steep learning curve, teaching was too fast for some because software was complicated They wanted to use their own printer instead of share.At the end of class,  they wished they had their own printer

What are some specific challenges in learning that these girls faced?

They liked TinkerCad a lot more. It was easy for them to learn. But, I taught Onshape because it provided much more learning of STEM like Geometry. They can’t learn Geometry in TinkerCad.

There you have it! Girls love 3D printing. It’s a great way for them to gain essential STEM skills for a future STEM world.