Author Archive

Product innovation and Leatherman, the original pocket survival tool

Leatherman is well known for creating cool, portable, multipurpose tools. The founder, Tim Leatherman received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University. Time spent traveling abroad convinced him of the need for a pliers based, multipurpose tool. Now, more than 30 years later I was lucky enough to chat with Jeff Castro, Lead Engineer in Product Innovation at Leatherman about product development.

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Project spotlight: GravityLight

GravityLight is an innovative off-grid light designed to eliminate dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps, used by over 1.3 billion people who don’t have access to electricity. It has created a new category of lighting, doesn’t have any batteries, nor does it need sunlight - all you need is a weight. This means it’s a very promising solution for emergency relief and disaster preparedness too, as it can be stored for long periods of time and can be used anytime, whatever the weather. I talked to one of the co-founders, Jim Reeves, to reveal a bit the background of their story.

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Project spotlight: Rivet, a trike designed by William Shatner

William Shatner designed a superbike so he could ride from Chicago to LA this summer. American Wrench, an Illinois-based custom motorcycle company, is building it. Rivet is a true superbike appropriate for "Iron Bill", boasting a 500HP V8 engine and an all-aluminum body. I interviewed Aaron Kelly of Rivet Motors / American Wrench to ask a few questions.

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Project spotlight: Hybrid Air Vehicles

Founded in 2007, Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind the innovative Airlander range of hybrid aircraft. They utilise new aerospace technology that combines the best characteristics of fixed wing aircraft with helicopters and "lighter-than-air" technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient aircraft, with a significantly lower carbon footprint and operating cost than other forms of air transport. The Airlander 10 is designed to stay airborne for up to five days at a time to fulfill a wide range of communication and survey roles, as well as cargo carrying and tourist passenger flights.

I talked to Mike Durham, Technical Director, about their vehicle and the development process.

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Capturing wind power with unconventional methods

Ben Glass, Altaeros CEO, is the inventor of the Buoyant Airborne Turbine system (BAT), which he developed at MIT as a student in the aerospace engineering department. After his stint at SpaceX, and time spent at MIT’s Gas Turbine Lab, Glass began developing the concept of lifting a wind turbine with an inflatable shell. The tower-less design significantly reduces the time and logistical cost of installation. At the same time it allows the turbine to harness a stronger, more consistent, wind resource that is out of reach of conventional wind turbines. I had the opportunity to talk to him and ask about his invention.

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How can you generate 170 product design ideas in a few weeks? GrabCAD Challenges.

There are a number of ways to design a new product. You can ask your designers. You can hire a design agency. Or, you can sponsor a GrabCAD Challenge and ask 1.8 million members for help. Last year, AirPatrol challenged our members and got over 170 new ideas for their wireless controller. That product recently launched and I asked Daniel Dordett, CEO and Andre Altjoe, Business Development at Airpatrol about this new way to design consumer electronics.

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GE seeks open innovation from the GrabCAD Community

Today we launched another great GrabCAD Challenge with GE. I talked to Lisa Ralph, Open Innovation Leader & Global Strategy at GE, about this Challenge to give you more details on their engineering problem, so you can create the best entry possible. This Challenge, ending March 9, has a prize pool of $10,000. The winners will be announced by June 8, after thorough testing and evaluation.

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NASA Challenge seeks fresh ideas for the ISS

GrabCAD is incredibly proud to host the Handrail Clamp Assembly Challenge with NASA. NASA has been investigating 3D printing technology in space for some time now and this Challenge is another great milestone. GrabCADrs are invited to submit fresh 3d printable handrail clamp ideas for the International Space Station (ISS). I asked Niki Werkheiser, In-space Manufacturing Project Manager at NASA to reveal a bit more about the the background of this Challenge.

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