Indiegogo’s Andrew Erlick Joins Judges Panel for Cool Idea! Award

Indiegogo’s Andrew Erlick.

We’re excited to announce that Indiegogo‘s Director of Hardware, Design & Technology, Andrew Erlick, has been added to the judges panel of Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award program. Erlick’s experience at Indiegogo (the largest global crowdfunding platform) and Quirky (a social product development company) should prove valuable as he helps identify and select innovative product ideas to receive the award.

The Cool Idea! Award program, now in its fifth year, was established to help product designers and engineers bring useful concepts to market. Since 2011, nearly $1 million in custom prototyping and low-volume production services have been provided to entrepreneurs developing new products in the United States and Europe.

The program runs year-round and today marks the start of the July/August submission period. Apply now at protolabs.com/cool-idea.

Read our full press release announcement here.

Proto Labs Named Manufacturer of the Year!

Proto Labs’ President and CEO, Vicki Holt, with VP of Global Marketing, Bill Dietrick.

It is a tremendous honor to have been named Manufacturer of the Year, Small Enterprise by the Manufacturing Leadership Council at growth consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. The 2015 Manufacturing Leadership Awards ceremony, which was held in Carlsbad, Calif. on June 4, celebrates industry leaders and companies that are shaping global manufacturing.

Alongside Proto Labs, Dow Chemical received top honors as Manufacturer of the Year, Large Enterprise; Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, General Electric and The Campbell Soup Company were among other notable award winners. Large and Small Enterprise categories for Manufacturer of the Year were determined by companies with annual revenues of over and under $1 billion, respectively.

Read the full press release here.

The Internet of Things at Proto Labs and Beyond

The Internet of Things (IoT) — where essentially any device with an on/off switch can be connected online — has gone mainstream. It’s a technological movement aimed to connect everything and everyone, sharing data between humans and machines to make our lives and work more efficient. It is both an exciting and terrifying concept, but a natural progression as we become a more connected society. Continue reading

11 Reasons Why Launching a Crowdfunding Campaign is Valuable

By Joel Townsan, creator of the Flipout Screwdriver

When my crowdfunding campaign failed, I was pretty devastated. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong — my Flipout Screwdriver had just won the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award, had gotten tons of press coverage and people really liked the video (not to mention the product). Yet, I fell short, raising only $17,000 of the $50,000 goal I needed to move forward. I’ll admit, the product was priced a little high ($130 compared to most electric screwdrivers that go for $30 to $50 in stores), but I still couldn’t understand what went wrong. I had spent six weeks emailing every gadget magazine, tech blog and DIY forum I could find, but was somehow unable get my project into the coveted “Popular Products” category on Kickstarter — a section on the site that can seemingly make or break a product overnight. I thought it signaled the end of Flipout. Fortunately, it was just the beginning.

The Flipout cordless driver has a 360-degree range of motion with 380 possible configurations.

In addition to simply raising capital, there are a lot of bonuses to running a crowdfunding project that can actually benefit an inventor more in the long run. When the Kickstarter clock expired, I thought my project had failed, but really, it was the beginning of a crazy roller coaster ride that would result in a DRTV deal with Lowe’s — one of the largest big box retailers in the world. Regardless of the success or failure of a Kickstarter project, there’s a lot of good that can come from the campaign. It’s kind of like running a marathon; it takes months of training and then you run like you’ve never run before, but once you cross that finish line, it can be life-changing. Thus, my excitement crowdfunding.

Here are 11 reasons why every inventor and entrepreneur should consider a crowdfunding campaign:

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Hush Technology Aims to Provide People with Better Sleep

Hush Technology, Inc. is the latest recipient of Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award. The company has designed a first-of-its-kind smart earplug. (photo courtesy of Hush Technology, Inc.)

 

California-based startup, Hush Technology, Inc., is the latest recipient of the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award. Its product, Hush, is the world’s first smart earplug that combines sound-eliminating foam and noise masking technology to keep unwanted noise out while allowing important alerts in.

Hush helps users sleep through snoring, loud neighbors and a host of other noises that disturb nightly sleep. It connects via Bluetooth with a smartphone app so users can choose which notifications, including emergency calls and alarms, can get through to them during the night. The device includes a tiny speaker in its design that can play soft soothing sounds like white noise, ocean waves, and rain drops for over 10 hours. Continue reading