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Innovation

MEP Helps Inventor Save Thousands On Design and Testing

TechHelp can help inventors turn ideas into 3D CAD drawings, prototypes, a finished product

Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - 12:01

Many people have ideas for inventions, but only a few act on them. Doug Gaus of Innovation in Mind quietly produces numerous inventions from his home in Boise, Idaho, taking the steps needed to turn his ideas into marketable products.

He has several licensed products, including a new handheld cordless grinder for the kitchen, and one houseware-related item licensed to a company with close to half a billion dollars in annual revenues. His products have been sold in major retail chains, including Sharper Image, Brookstone, and Tower Records, and through major mail-order catalog houses such as Damark, Home Decorators, and Harriet Carter. Doug’s latest projects cross over into several industries, including entertainment, automotive, and housewares. In addition, Doug works as a consultant, helping others bring products to market.

Although Doug is a successful serial inventor and entrepreneur, he sometimes needs to augment his skills and knowledge by tapping into the TechHelp team at the New Product Development Lab at Boise State. TechHelp is part of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network, and the lab is staffed by a team of mechanical engineering students, full-time mechanical engineers, and an artist. The team can help any inventor turn an idea into a 3D CAD drawing, a prototype, and a finished product.

While Doug is perfectly capable of creating rough sketches and prototypes, he turns to TechHelp when he needs to formalize and finalize a product design or create prototypes. During the development of a salad cutter and flying Nerf toy, Doug turned to TechHelp for help with product design and prototyping.

Doug worked closely with the New Product Development Lab to create prototypes and final drawings for the lettuce cutting machine. TechHelp assisted Doug in securing a $5,000 grant from Idaho's Procurement Technical Assistance Center that he used to perfect the lettuce cutter design as well as prototypes for potential use in the U.S. military. Lifetime Brands picked up the lettuce cutter, modifying Techhelp’s SolidWorks engineering drawings to get the look they wanted.

Doug also worked with TechHelp to perfect the design of his “Poof Fling Flyer,” a foam flying toy. They tested prototypes of the Fling Flyer in Boise stores, and Doug saved hundreds of hours and more than $1,000 using the product design skills and tools of the TechHelp New Product Development Lab. He became a member of Idaho’s inventor network and won licensing deals from Alex Brands and Lifetime Brands worth thousands of dollars.

Results of working with TechHelp

• Developed two new products
• Saved more than $1,000 on design and testing
• Saved more than 100 hours using the TechHelp New Product Development Lab
• Won licensing deals worth more than $1,000
• Became a member of Idaho’s inventor network

If you think your company could benefit from assistance with new product development contact your local MEP Center.

TechHelp is the official representative of the MEP National Network in Idaho. The MEP National Network is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing.

This article first appeared June 22, 2018, in the Manufacturing Innovation Blog.

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Manufacturing Extension Partnership MEP

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, works with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers offering services and resources centered on technology acceleration, supplier development, sustainability, workforce, and continuous improvement. MEP has more than 1,400 technical experts located in every state to connect manufacturers to public and private resources for increased competitiveness and profitability, and to identify opportunities for growth. Visit MEP’s Manufacturing Innovation Blog online.