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

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How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley

How to Build a StartUp

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

April 2008 Summary

Mr. Steven R. Peabody (president of CMI Engineering and holder of several patents) gave us exceptional, valuable, practical, real-world guidance on how to develop an invention into a product. Here is a summary of his detailed method:

1. Prepare an industrial design.

Once you feel you have a marketable invention:

a) sign a mutual nondisclosure agreement

b) describe your invention to someone (industrial designer, engineer, draftsman) who can give your idea:

  • an understandable format (such as an industrial design). Show this to your engineers, marketers, and patent lawyers/agents.
  • if the invention is complex, an animated illustration to show how the product works.

2. Consider filing a patent application.

To get legal rights for your invention. Now, or after doing the marketability study of step 4.

3. Have an engineering firm precisely design your invention.

So you can manufacture products.

a) Choose a firm that is familiar with a broad range of products, designs (typically with a computer aided drafting (CAD) program) for inventors, and develops products.

b) Create a prototype of your invention. To verify that parts fit and that the invention works.

4. Do market research.

To find out if people will buy your invention.

Use a resource such as the University of Wisconsin Innovation Service Center (Sandra Beccue, marketing research manager).

5. Find out how much money you need to bring your invention to market.

Get itemized price quotes for:

a) Manufacturing and assembly.

Take your engineering files from step 3 to a manufacturer. Your engineers, a contract manufacturer, or Alibaba may be able to help you with this. A manufacturer should assign a product manager to help ensure that your product has the correct specifications and satisfies testing requirements. Use a factory that already complies with your testing requirements, audits, and quality control procedures, so you can share testing costs with other companies using the factory and so you can be sure your product satisfies test standards.

Consider using assembly shops such as Goodwill Industries.

b) Testing (if your product must be tested).

Use a testing lab certified for the industry through which you plan to market your product.

Also, get a copy of relevant test standards, find out when your product can be tested, and get an itemized price quote for product liability insurance.

c) Packaging (including tooling and set up charges).

Different industries have different requirements.

Find a packaging house that can work well with your marketing team to package your product correctly and with your manufacturer to coordinate packaging for final assembly.

d) Distribution and warehousing.

Consider using a fulfillment house (such as Millenium Group) that offers a complete system of distribution and fulfillment - inventory, warehousing, distribution, a full line of required reports, situated in strategic parts of the country.

e) Marketing.

Find a good marketing firm that has experience with your market segment and that can do PR work. Your marketing research report from step 4 will help the firm understand your market.

f) Accounting.

Find an accountant who can provide complete service: balance sheets, income statements, monthly reports, profit and loss data, general data that helps you manage your time, keeps you compliant with the IRS and with your bank, connects you with those who can finance your work.

6. Now that you know how much money you need and the details of what you will do, write a business plan.

SCORE can help.

7. Get the money you need from:

a) Banks.

SBA loans are good. Banks usually do not fund a start up company unless it has equity. A bank will want to see your business plan and a list of your assets.

b) Individual investors.

Show them your business plan. For large investments you will also need a registered private placement memorandum (PPM).

c) Angel investors and venture capitalists.

Realize that their terms may not favor you.

8. Hire:

a) Manufacturers, assembly shops, and a testing lab.

b) A packaging house.

c) A fulfillment house.

d) A marketing firm.

e) An accountant.

While you are doing all this, think about how to sell your product. Ideally, a buyer would give you a purchase order for your product before you hire a manufacturer.

Thank you for this very helpful presentation, Mr. Peabody!

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

Rick Hanson
6,240,579 Unitary pedal control of brake and fifth wheel deployment via side and end articulation with additional unitary pedal control of height of patient support
6,253,397 Deployable siderails for a wheeled carriage
6,256,812 Wheeled carriage having auxiliary wheel spaced from center of gravity of wheeled base and cam apparatus controlling deployment of auxiliary wheel and deployable side rails for the wheeled carriage
6,264,006 Brake for castered wheels
6,507,964 Surgical table
D474,446 Sterilizable battery component

Bob Humbert
4,281,368 Keyhole illuminating apparatus

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

Al Robbins

3,882,960 Ride quality control for surface effects craft
3,946,689 Air dynamo pressure regulation and modulation device for surface effect ships and air cushion vehicles
6,588,702 Lighter-than-air device having a flexible usable surface

Matt Thie
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

Richard Tucker
5,833,751 Powder coating booth having smooth internal surfaces
6,840,367 Material handling and manufacturing system and method
6,976,835 Manufacturing system and process
7,018,579 Manufacturing system and process

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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