When thinking back in time, and looking at the new inventions and innovations that have taken place over the past couple centuries, it’s easy to say, “Oh that was such a simply idea,” or “I would have invented that if I lived 100 years ago too”. However, inventors have brains that work differently than most other people. They can think up ideas that perhaps could seem “simple” or “blatantly obvious” only after the word gets out about them. Yet no one else in the entire world could have thought up that exact same invention and convince themselves to take it further. From the light bulb to the hula hoop, these inventors stand to make a fortune off of patent filings and the subsequent sale of their products.
For one man, named Kip Dopp, he wanted to come up with a simple way of creating a pen that was accessible whenever he needed it. And that he did, thanks in part to his son Bridger.
“My son said most people use their cell phones now days so why don’t you have the pen snap out of the back of the phone case,” explained Dopp. “I said that is a brilliant idea and we started building prototypes.”
Dopp had previously come up with an idea for a flat pencil that snapped out of a bookmark, so this idea stems a bit from that original invention as well, and this is how the Penbeddable was born; a flat pen that is able to snap right into a smartphone case, or journal cover and be accessible just about anywhere.
While the idea was seemingly a brilliant one, the problem arose as to how Dopp would begin prototyping their design. It wasn’t as simple as just taking a traditional pen and modifying it. Prototyping in general can be a very expensive and time consuming process and Dopp didn’t exactly have the resources or time to spend on creating a working prototype through the more conventional means. So, in what may have been just as good of an idea as the invention itself, Dopp turned to a company we have covered before, called WhiteClouds, to 3D print his prototypes and revisions of his design.
“3D printing brought the development cycle from literally a year to months,” said Dopp. “We were able to change and add concepts almost overnight and have a working prototype for proof of concept.”
Using Solidworks, Dopp and his son were able to design the pen, which not only can snap into and out of a smartphone case or journal, but is also available as a stand-alone pocket system that can be stuck just about anywhere you might need a writing tool.
In the process of trying to come up with the best possible end product, the team went through 12 different iterations. The prototypes were 3D printed by WhiteClouds on a ProJet 3500 HDMax 3D printer by 3D Systems. This 3D printer uses UV-cured materials to fabricate rigid plastic parts.
“It is a preferred printer for prototyping,” explained WhiteClouds. “Because of the small layer resolution, the 3D printer can print fine details with exactness and produce working prototypes.”
Dopp has now formed a product and design company that he calls Sea Invent, and already has other inventions in the works. He plans to use 3D printing technology to continue to prototype his future products as well.
“All this takes time,” said Dopp. “But 3D printing has allowed us to make mistakes faster! That is part of the formula, but the most important part is to keep trying. We want to develop products that people buy because they work and 3D printing has helped us do that.”
So far the Kickstarter campaign for the Penbeddable has raised $2,052 of the $15,000 goal that Dopp has set. There are 17 days remaining on the campaign, and you can grab 2 of these pens for just $10.
What do you think about the potential that 3D printing provides for the prototyping and revisions needed in the creation of new products? Do you think services such as WhiteClouds will lead the way in encouraging inventors to go forth with their ideas at a more affordable price? Discuss in the Penbeddable forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the Kickstarter video below.
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