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There Are 800 3D Printers in Libraries Worldwide (and There Could Be a Lot More)
3D Printing Media Network August 20, 2017
According to this Google Map (see below), there are now over 800 3D printers in libraries across the world. This number could actually be significantly higher as the libraries present in Google Maps are mostly from the US or English-speaking countries such as the UK and Australia, while it is very likely that Chinese libraries alone could have three to five times as many.
Other geographic areas such as South America are also very likely to be offering 3D printing through libraries and European countries – which only recorded a few dozen in this map, are likely top have several hundreds – and even thousands – already.
The good news is that a similar map published on Google in 2013 reported only 58 3D printers in libraries worldwide, which indicates over 1000% expansion over the past four years. In 2015, according to, according to OITP Perspectives, a publication by the American Library Association (ALA) there were 250 3D printers in libraries in the US that offered 3D printing services to patrons. That number has now more than doubled to 584 according to the latest map. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1plLHXcVgwR2Ide4U1Ipl4dknZVU&hl=en_US&ll=5.943829103237726%2C-129.61664584999994&z=1
Libraries are adding new 3D printers everyday, offering services that include professional FDM, low cost FFF and stereolithography with desktop systems.
“Our goal is to make this amazing technology available to our community,” said Mentor Public Library Executive Director Cheryl Kuonen. in a press release.” Mentor, Ohio, Public Library’s main branch just announced that it is giving patrons access to a 3D printer starting next September 5th. “You can use it to fabricate fun toys like rubberband cars and T-Rex skulls or replacement parts for your skateboards. But it’s also a tool to stretch your creativity. See what you can make. Its only limit is your creativity.”
This growth is not expected to slow down anytime soon, as more and more benefits of 3D printing in STEM and STEAM education programs become clear, while hardware prices decrease. Just a few days ago YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association), included 3D printing in its list of 2017 Top Ten Summer Learning Programs from its Teen Programming HQ contest.
The report, submitted by Pamela Jayne from the Boone County Public Library; Burlington, showed that the KY3D printer clubs are a great way to introduce teens to new technology and software, while also introducing problem-solving skills. Teens already proficient in this software can be great student leaders for these clubs.
Student leadership for the clubs were chosen based on their current skills in 3D printing and computer science. Once chosen, teens were brought together for a brainstorming session and created the outlines and design challenges for the club meetings. Student leaders were invited to run the programs themselves, based on the outlines created in the meeting.
The 3D printer clubs allow for teens to experiment with this technology. The first meeting allows for the teens to learn about 3D printing and what it’s being utilized for currently. Teens experiment within Tinkercad to get used to the software and how it works. In the following meetings, design challenges are introduced, which first help the teens gain confidence in using the software. Towards the end of the club meetings, design challenges are introduced to strengthen problem-solving and research skills, especially with the challenge of creating an invention that solves a real life problem. Time must be taken to research the field in which their invention will cover, and determine the market and pricing for their item.
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Make Magazine – Great Tool For Inventors
The stories this week are about inventors who pulled together invention prototypes in their garage, basement or living room. Make magazine, makezine.com, is a magazine that shows you how to make all kinds of things, such as slip castings, that you can easily do at home, but that you might not be aware of you. If you are the inventive type, always trying to come up with a new idea, but not always able to pull something together, you need to start getting Make magazine. Even if the magazine can’t help you, the ideas are fun and you can do the projects just for fun. If you want to help your kids be creative, or if you are home schooling your children, Make magazine is a great resource to explore.
Often inventors get into a routine that revolves around look for a problem that affects many where you can create a great solution. Then you just be sure you can make the product for 20% of the products retail value and you might have a winner. You probably have all the ingredients for a great invention right in your own home. Both of the stories in this article are about inventors who made it with recycled cardboard.
There is another way, one followed by kids for generations, just get a wild and crazy idea and try it out. While not exactly kids, 26 year olds (in 2009) Jason Lucash and Mike Szymczak did just that. Now these two young fellows loved their music, and loved it loud. Their first product which had some traction, was the Rock-IT, a product that could take audio sounds and change the sounds to vibrations. All you had to do was attach the vibration magnet to a wide variety of devices and you had great sound. Some of the places where their product could go include cardboard boxes, file cabinets, appliances, coolers and lamp shades. The product sold for $34.99 and was a modest hit, that is available at Amazon and other stores including Bed Bath and Beyond and their own web site www.origaudio.com.
But their sales will exceed $5 million for a second product, Fold and Play Recycled Speakers. Obviously the Rock-It added sound, but our inventors more, much more, and they came up with the idea of a speaker made out of recycled cardboard with a standard black speaker that requires no power or batteries. Now they had a light weight box, or in their case several boxes, and they were ready to party wherever they went. Just assemble the boxes, plug into an audio source and you had music, loud music. Time magazine featured the product as one of the 10 best products of 2009 and sold 15,000 speakers in one day on their web site. Then the Marines ordered 50,000. For the inventors it’s the best of all worlds, a crazy idea that deos exactly what they want and a booming business to boot.
That is a great story, but not as great as my favorite story, the Bogdon bass. Chris Baydee wrote songs but couldn’t afford a bass to play on his recordings. So he built a bass out of cardboard he found around the home. He added vinyl strings and a wooden handle and he was ready to record with what he felt was very silly idea. But then something happened, the bass sounded great. And the big cardboard box was really loud, and didn’t need an amplifier. He didn’t know what to do with what he thought was extraordinary. So he put his idea up a YouTube and received over 1000 hits in less than a day. And he had lots of requests to buy the product. So he put his bass up on EBay and started selling. He sold hundreds of the product, almost as fast he could make them. Bass Player gave the product a great review in 2008 and the product is available at many web sites. A great product that really works at a fraction of the costs of real double basses and even bass guitars.
Chris Baydnee took the money from his initial sales to patent his idea which has helped him keep his product selling four to five years after he invented. Just because you think your product is silly or not serious doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take action to protect a winning idea. A reminder for all is Gary Clegg who invented the Slanket, a blanket with sleeves long before the Snuggyie came out. A simple idea and Clegg didn’t patent it and now today the Snuggie has sold millions of products, far more than the Slanket. So don’t lose your rights. If that “silly” idea has real legs in the market, patent it.
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Let’s Get to the Basics: Solar Panels and How do They Work to Power Your Home
Solar energy is no doubt a favorite topic if we talk about renewable energy sources. Solar energy does its work by utilizing the energy of the sun and converting this energy into electricity to power homes and commercial buildings.
The sun, which is a natural nuclear reactor, unleashes photons that travel from the sun to our planet. The photons released by the sun provide enough energy to produce the electricity that we need to power the entire planet whole year round.
Due to the benefits solar energy provides, many people are now looking for solar panels to install in their homes. The technology is also improving, and its price has become affordable as the years advance.
The Materials that Make Solar Panels
The solar panels that you see over the roof of your neighbor’s house are made of solar cells. These solar cells are semiconductors made of silicon. These cells share the same functions with how batteries work, solar panels have positive and negative layers to create an electrical charge.
How do Photovoltaic Solar Panels Work?
Every time a photon reaches your solar panel, it separates electrons from their atoms. The electrons will flow through an electrical circuit made of conductors attached to the positive and negative layers of a solar cell. This process, in turn, produces electricity.
Photovoltaic solar panels produce (DC) direct current electricity. With the help of direct electricity, electrons in the solar cells will travel in a single direction around an electrical circuit. This process is similar to powering an electric bulb through a battery.
The electrons travel from the negative side of the solar panel, through the bulb, and back to the positive side of the panel.
The (AC) alternating current electricity, on the other hand, will push and pull the electrons, which creates a periodic change for them. In the United States electrical grid, they use AC electricity because it is affordable to transmit electricity over long distances.
With the use of an inverter, the solar panels that create direct current electricity, change the direction of this electricity into the (AC) alternating current grid.
How Does a Solar Inverter Works?
The use of an inverter is that it takes the direct current electricity from the panels and utilizes it to make alternating current electricity.
Inverters are like the central brain in the solar power system. Not only that they change DC into AC electricity, but they also give system statistics and protection in case of a ground fault. It can also track the point of maximum power and how much energy is produced.
Since the inception of solar power technology, a lot of manufacturers already used central inverters. However, solar power system now comes with micro-inverters that optimize the power of every single solar panel to its full potential.
Unlike the central inverter, micro inverters do not bring down the entire system if there is a problem on a single solar panel. Indeed, microinverters make one of the biggest contributions to the improvement of solar technology.
Solar power has become one of the most promising renewable sources of energy nowadays. It provides us a lot of benefits such as the reduction of our monthly power cost and the preservation of our environment. However, we need to know how solar power works to make us understand its importance and to improve this technology further.
As a recap here is how a solar power system works: first, sunlight reaches your rooftop solar panels. The panels will now convert the power of the sun into direct current electricity. The DC electricity will travel through a solar inverter to make it into alternating current electricity to power your household. That how wonderful solar energy works!
Lisa Jones is a freelance blogger and environmental advocate. She writes blog articles such as benefits of using solar energy and the many ways to power your home with a renewable source of energy. Lisa browses GStore to look for high-quality solar panels.
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How to Approach Sales Reps
Most inventors need to sell their product through sales reps primarily because they don’t have the market contacts they need to sell the product on their own. Reps are always interested in finding new lines, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to sign up. Reps are only interested in your line they will make money from it and your product will add to their reputation. So don’t take it for granted that you will easily be able to land reps. Instead be prepared to create your best opportunity for success. This post will help you learn how to approach sales reps.
Points to Know About Reps
They want to be sure they can make at least $10,000 a year;
They will want an exclusive in their territory for the markets they serve;
For most consumer products they will want a commission of 10 to 12%;
Reps consider their customers to be the keys to their business, so you must realize that the reps will take the customers side on most issues;
If reps aren’t being successful with your product they won’t spend time on it. You need to be prepared to change reps when they don’t produce revenue for you.
Whether you develop you own list of reps, (http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2011/02/setting-up-a-sales-rep-network/) or buy a rep list (one stop invention shop has a large number of rep lists for sale -http://onestopinventionshop.net/books/sales-reps/) you have to start by getting the reps interest. Often, even reps in your area, or reps recommended by retailers in your area will ask for some information prior to talking further with you. The best way to respond is through email. But don’t load the email up with a lot of attachments. Instead put everything in the body of the email. Remember your goal in the first email is not to sell the rep on the idea of carrying the product, the goal is just to get them to talk further with you. I found the short simple email gets you the best results. Try to cut down the file size of all the pictures so that the email opens as quickly as possible.
Your email should include:
A short statement that you have a new product and that you are looking for reps to sell into a market, state what you market is;
A picture of the product, outside the package in use if possible;
A picture of the product in its packaging;
A picture of the product on the store shelves;
The product’s suggested retail price;
A short list of the products benefits;
A list of major sales achievements to date;
A statement that if the reps would like to know more or would like to receive a product sample to call or email you if the reps would like to know more or would like to receive a product sample.
Once you have a representative interested start by checking them out to show your professionalism.
Ask the following questions:
What are you target accounts?
How many products are your line?
What are those products?
How many sales people are in the organization?
How long have they been in business?
What was the last new product the representatives took on?
If the rep looks promising then you have three options.
Give out additional information on the phone and through email and send a sample.
Answer all his or her questions and the send a complete package of information that they can then use to decide if they want to carry your product. The package should include a sample product, pricing packages, store displays and brochures, both for store owners and to be used at small regional shows or literature the reps can use to present products to retailers. Also include a list of frequently asked questions, and details about where the product has been sold to date, or if you don’t currently have sales show whatever research you have to done to date.
Offer to work with the rep to create a special package to launch at their three top customers. This package should be to help generate sales at the stores. It could be an in-store demonstration, as special interactive display, a contest of some sort with a meaningful prize, or a package sale where you offer a complementary product, either from you or from another vendor, to generate sales. You might also decide to guarantee sales, which means that you will take the product back if the product doesn’t sell at the first three retailers.
As you probably already know the more steps you take to land a rep the better off you are. Reps can sell a product for you for years and the upfront costs to get them started is very important.
Personal Visits vs. Phone Calls
Most of this work can be done over the phone, but if at all possible I recommend you visit your first one or two potential reps in person. You may be doing something wrong, you may have items you have neglected, or there might be steps you could take to improve your chances. All of these items might come out in a personal visit while they might not come out in a phone call. The other reason for a personal visit is that reps are often reluctant to take on a product line where you don’t have any other reps or an established network of retailers. A personal visit gives you a chance to build rapport with reps and that rapport might help you land your first rep.
Be sure to visit the page http://onestopinventionshop.net/books/sales-reps/ to see what types of rep lists are available from One Stop Invention Shop for $24.99 each. The site also has a article on how to use manufacturers’ sales reps as licensing agents.
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