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

In this free online course, learn the key tools and steps for building a successful startup (or at least reducing the risk of failure).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August 2009

A prototype can help you to see whether your invention works, to identify ways to improve its appearance and function, and to communicate it to the world of business and law. A prototype made of plastic is attractive and affordable, and can be made quickly. Mr. Andrew Nehrt (812-522-4433, of Pro-Form Plastics, Inc. (manufacturer of heavy-gauge [.03-.5" thick] molded plastics, non-metallic material [foam, felt, plastic, etc.] cut by steel-rule die, and customized wood shipping containers) spoke to us about the different designs, methods, plastics, and tools he uses to build prototypes. The method of thermoforming uses a vacuum to fit a rectangular sheet of heated plastic (3x4' to 5x9') to a mold of a product part (remember the Vac-u-form toy from years ago?). Before being fit to a deep mold, the plastic is stretched with a felt-covered plug. Plastic shrinks while cooling on the mold, so designing the mold with at least 2 degrees of draft angle makes separation of the plastic from the mold easier and less expensive. Several kinds of plastic, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, can be thermoformed.
  • HDPE/LDPE/PP (high density polyethylene/low density polyethylene/polypropylene) can be used to make things like a gasoline tank. It is tough, resists chemicals and weather, and is relatively inexpensive. However it is dull and pliable.
  • ABS (acetonitrile butadiene styrene) is durable, stiff, glossy, and can be used for detailed parts However it cracks under stress, does not resist chemicals, and is expensive.
  • HIPS (high impact polystyrene) provides good detail, stiffness, and formability, and is the least expensive of these plastics. However it is brittle, unsuited for stress, and does not resist chemicals.
  • Polycarbonate (Lexan) is clear, stiff, tough, and resists scratching. However it is amorphous (needs to dry), hard to form, and expensive.
  • Acrylic (Plexiglass) is easy to form, somewhat clear, and relatively inexpensive (half the cost of polycarbonate). However it is brittle, scratches easily, and can't be used for detail.
The mold can be made from different materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
  • Wood (especially mahogany, which lasts and doesn't leave an imprint of its grain in the plastic product) is good for prototypes and small production runs of products made of ABS/styrene.
  • Aluminum (machined or cast) allows temperature control during cooling, is an inexpensive (~ 30% the cost of an injection mold) way to make a long-lasting tool, and is good for making prototypes out of any of the listed plastics.
  • Epoxy/Ren/Gypsum performs a little better than wood, is significantly more expensive than wood, and is good for limited production using ABS/styrene.
Mr. Nehrt generously offered to act as a resource for inventors. So don't hesitate to contact him about your planned prototypes. Thank you for all of this useful information, Mr. Nehrt!

Monday, August 3, 2009


Please join us Saturday August 15, 2009 for a free Innovation Roadshow workshop! This is a great opportunity for those who are ready to get their ideas out to the world. 

The workshop will be held with the Cincinnati inventors group at Eureka Ranch, near Cincinnati, OH from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.  If you would like to join a carpool, please contact Dave Zedonis ( 

What will happen
In the morning, an instructor sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce╩╝s NIST/MEP organization will help you become a persuasive salesperson for your product.  The instructor will help you express your ideas in language that excites business buyers, licensees, investors, distributors, manufacturers, etc (i.e., “buyers”). In the afternoon, you have the option of submitting your invention online to the USA National Innovation Marketplace.  (You will need a laptop computer to do this. If you don't have a laptop, you may be able to share another's laptop.)  Your invention will be advertised online for at least 6 months through the NIST/MEP Network.  You will also get a free market research report (worth $2,000) that provides an annual sales forecast, development & protection status, probability of success, fair market royalty, and more.

Get the Most Out of This Workshop 
Before the workshop, go to PlanetEureka and look at a few Market Research Reports and at the questions that will help you submit your invention online. Patent protection of your invention is desirable, but not mandatory. If you don't have patent protection, you can say what your invention is, discuss its benefits, and even provide testimonials. But do not divulge HOW your invention achieves its benefits or results. 

See you there!

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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