It was seen that the works of founders of States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover
but narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of the inventor, though of less pomp,
is felt everywhere and lasts forever.          - Francis Bacon Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature

The Design of Everyday Things

Every inventor should take this free online course. Learn the basics of design and start observing and applying design principles.

How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley

How to Build a StartUp

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

February 2008 Summary

Ms. Nikki Lewallen (Rainmakers Director of Membership Development) introduced us to Rainmakers, an organization dedicated to helping people establish strategic business relationships. Rainmakers helps inventors (among others) succeed by presenting informative business programs and by helping members meet those who can help them. The effectiveness of Rainmakers is evident from its rapid growth in membership - doubling every year (since its founding 5 years ago by Tony Scelzo) to 1200 members today. Through its philosophy of winning and putting others first, Rainmakers:
  • S - creates Strategic relationships
  • H - creates a culture of Hospitality
  • A - has members hold each other Accountable to a higher standard
  • R - is always Recruiting new members
  • E - Encourages and inspires members to achieve their goals
How does it work?
  1. Sharpen your focus. Create a message that identifies, as specifically as possible, what you need and who you want to meet.
  2. Find your power circle. Attend a meeting and introduce yourself to a meeting organizer (someone wearing blue beads). Based on your focus, the organizer will help you find people (at that meeting and at meetings held in other locations) you can work with to solve your business problems. For example, a photographer and a baker may collaborate to promote weddings or anniversary celebrations.
  3. Establish relationships; don't sell. You want referrals from a lasting business relationship.
  4. Understand your target market. You and your closest competitor may want to specialize within a market so that you both benefit.
  5. Get personal. Get to know those in your power circle by sharing recreational activities.
  6. Customer service. Do your best in all work referred to you - reputations (yours and the referrer's) depend on it.
  7. Continue promising relationships. After the meeting, call someone with whom you would like to collaborate, and set up a meeting. Even though it may be months before you can collaborate, be patient and stay in contact.
Rainmakers offers several meetings each month in a variety of locations throughout Indiana, with at least 40 members attending each meeting. Members at each meeting have varied interests - inventors, business people, attorneys, job seekers, etc. Membership requires a $95 initiation fee and either $35 per month or $449 per year. Although face to face networking is often most effective, we can also benefit from online business networking sites such as LinkedIn, NotchUp, Hoovers Connect, Ryze, and Smaller Indiana. We sincerely thank Ms. Lewallen for informing us about this valuable tool for success.

Monday, February 4, 2008

December 2007 Summary

Dr. Mileta Tomovic (of Purdue University's Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology) and graduate students Tamara Novakov and Jui Shyang Liu introduced us to the fascinating technology of rapid prototyping, which creates a prototype model of an invention rapidly (2 – 7 hours) and inexpensively. They have generously made the slides of their presentation accessible.

Embodying your inventive idea in a physical model can help you:

  • visually communicate your invention to investors, colleagues, and customers
  • optimize your invention before manufacture
  • test market your invention on a small scale
  • establish an invention date for your patent application
  • reverse engineer someone else's invention.

One form of rapid prototyping (known as material addition, additive fabrication, three dimensional printing, solid free-form fabrication, layered manufacturing, or computer automated manufacturing) uses a machine, and a description of your invention as Computer-Aided Design (CAD) data, to build a physical model of your invention.

The basic rapid prototyping process has 5 steps:

  1. create a CAD model of your design
  2. convert it to STL format (a format, native to stereolithography CAD software, which represents a 3-D surface of your invention as an assembly of planar triangles)
  3. slice the STL file into thin cross-sectional layers (a pre-processing program adjusts the size, location and orientation of the CAD model to correspond to the physical model you want)
  4. build the physical prototype model in layers (a machine, using one of several techniques, builds your model one layer at a time from polymers, paper, or powdered metal)
  5. clean and finish the model (remove the prototype from the printer, detach any supports, cure photosensitive materials, and sand, seal, or paint the model to improve its appearance and durability).

You can build a physical model of your invention from one of several different kinds of layers (each with its own advantages and disadvantages):

  • Liquid
    • polymer, electroset fluid, or molten material
  • Particles
    • fused by laser, or joined with a binder
  • Sheets
    • bonded with adhesive, or with light
Particular techniques used to form those layers include:
  • solidification of a resin via electromagnetic radiation
  • stereolithography
  • fused deposit modeling
  • selective laser sintering
  • 3-D printing
  • laser engineered net shaping
  • laminated object manufacturing
  • polyjet modeling

If you would like to apply rapid prototyping to your invention, consider contacting Randy Hountz of Purdue University’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP). TAP and the Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology help individuals and small companies that can’t afford a technical staff. Your first 40 hours of assistance with rapid prototyping are free. Available equipment includes the Optomec LENS 750, Zcorp Spectrum Z510, Prometal Z1, and Objet –Eden 350V.

Want to learn more? Try MIT's free OpenCourseWare Engineering Design and Rapid Prototyping.

We are most grateful to Dr. Tomovic and his students for their very interesting presentation.

Patent Drawings by Richard McVicker

Some inventions patented by our members:

Bob Brand
3,179,907 Tuning system for television receivers
3,219,933 Television tuner switching system
3,241,072 Tuning control system
3,538,466 Television tuner cast housing with integrally cast transmission lines
4,503,740 Optical cutting edge locator for a cutting apparatus
4,503,896 Dog system for veneer slicer
4,601,317 Veneer slicing system
5,511,598 Veneer-slicer with remotely controllable blade angle adjustment
5,562,137 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,590,700 Vacuum flitch table with self-cleaning vacuum valve
5,678,619 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer from a tapered flitch
5,680,887 Veneer slicer with timing belt
5,694,995 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,701,938 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,819,828 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,868,187 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,395,843 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,552,750 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer sheets from a flitch

Kenton Brett
6023685 Computer controlled event ticket auctioning system
6704713 Computer controlled event ticket auctioning system
6907405 Computer controlled priority right auctioning system
7647269 Computer-based right distribution system with reserve pricing
7698210 Computer-based right distribution system
7720746 Computer-based right distribution system with password protection
7747507 Computer controlled auction system
7769673 Computer-based right distribution system with request reallocation
7992631 System and method for seasonal energy storage
8073765 Computer-based right distribution system with password protection
8128407 Method and system for teaching math
8538856 Computer-based right distribution system
8732033 Computer-based right distribution system with temporal variation
9614733 Methods and systems for reducing burst usage of a networked computer system
9900220 Methods and systems for reducing burst usage of a networked computer system

James Dougherty
8622039 Rockerless desmodromic valve system
9488074 Rockerless desmodromic valve system
9366158 Unitary cam follower and valve preload spring for a desmodromic valve mechanism

Ron Jackson
4,886,110 HVAC zone control system
4,943,039 Adjustable clamp
4,987,409 Level sensor and alarm
5,132,669 Level sensor with alarm
5,381,989 Adjustable spring clamp
5,944,098 Zone control for HVAC system
6,145,752 Temperature monitoring and control system
6,322,443 Duct supported booster fan
D347,596 Audible security alarm
D376,747 Door security device

Jerry McQuinn
D689,343 Universal Nutcracker

Richard McVicker
3,261,937 Three position snap switch utilizing interference blade means
3,319,477 Timer Escapement
3,332,704 Manually propelled treadmill vehicle
4,625,616 Thumb pick
6,309,076 Light barrier, screen or reflector
D240,237 Sculpture or the like
D356,653 Yard light
8389839 Thumb pick

Bill Pangburn
5,943,831 Device for Hauling Objects

Matt Thie
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
4,844,446 Multiple-compartment currency stacker-sorter
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
7,298,280 Lighted fluid flow indication apparatus
7,617,826 Conserver
8146592 Method and apparatus for regulating fluid flow or conserving fluid flow
8230859 Method and apparatus for regulating fluid

Don Walls
D707090 Torque key lever
RE36209 Door lock apparatus

Dave Zedonis
5,637,926 Battery powered electronic assembly for wheel attachment

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