In order to get your invention idea started, you must first make a few decisions. Decide if you will sell invention as a product to customers or whether you want to tinker with it to have fun. You then should start thinking of what it will look like and how it will function. Finally, determine the budget for your product. You can build your invention cheaply with parts you have laying around or start fresh, spend money and design everything as new. Whatever you decide, you will only be limited by your imagination, time and money.
Any choice is OK with us as long as you simply do something with your idea instead of sitting around and dreaming. At Invention Therapy, we believe that there are no good ideas or bad ones, only those that we turn into reality.
1. Look For Design Inspirations
You can get inspiration from the real world for your designs. Here, we can see how the Russian MIR-1 inspired my first dive watch design. So how do you go from submarine to watch in a design? We look for the tiny details in the way each part is made.
2. Create sketches of your invention ideas
The first step in getting your invention idea started is to do a few simple sketches. Now if you have never sketched before, I can tell you that it just takes practice. You can even take a few classes if you really want to learn the right way to sketch.
One thing I can say is that you are never too old to learn something new. Before I went to industrial design school in Florence, Italy, I couldn’t even draw stickmen. One of the class assignments was to simply sketch something from your imagination that you would like to design. I have always had an interest in underwater photography so the first thing that came to mind was to design a series of dive watches.
It may take you many sketches to flesh out your ideas. That’s the great thing about sketching your invention first. They don’t cost you anything other than time. Sketching is the perfect way to plan what to do next.
The design of your invention will dictate many things so you really do need to think it through before moving on to the next step. You need to ask yourself the following questions.
- What materials will my invention be made of?
- How will it be used?
- What functions will it perform?
- What styles will I choose in the design?
- How much will it cost?
At this point, we are just taking some educated guesses. As an example, when I designed this watch, I wanted the case to be a polished metal with a leather band. The watch would be on the more expensive end of around $10,000.00 apiece! This meant that only the best materials could be used like stainless steel, crystal glass, and a Swiss watch movement.
Now I know you are not looking to design anything at this high-end level but keep in mind that this was just an exercise for learning and I had no intention of making them. Although, I must admit that I wouldn’t mind wearing one of these watches.
3. Begin modeling in 3D CAD software
This is the part that can get really interesting. As you can see from the sketch above, the design is pretty basic but you can envision the possibilities of what the watch could really look like. Once I finished the sketch, I moved on to modeling every detail in Solidworks. My design was not intended for manufacturing so I was just going for a model that would look great and convey the potential of my design.
You can see how the design features of the MIR submarine are carried over into my watch face design. This isn’t an exact science and there is no secret to how you decide what to do. That’s the artistic process of inventing. You can go with your instinct to determine the look of your products.
By now, you should be able to see the potential for your invention if you embrace the power of designing in the virtual world. Advancements in software have made it so we can pretty much test our ideas long before having a single part made.
Once I had the watch face figured out, the rest of the design centered around the same theme. I start by working on the main body of the watch.
And then I began to add details one step at a time. Now at this point, you are probably thinking that this type of design is beyond your skills. The truth is that this was the first time I designed a watch but I still gave it a try. Many of the details needed to make this watch functional are missing. If I did decide to make it, it would take a lot of patience and time to work out how the movement would be installed, o-ring placement for waterproofing, front crystal fitting and so on. While I am making it seem easy, you need to remember that this was only an exercise intended to help me and you to learn how to get our invention started.
This is where the magic really starts to happen because we can see the potential in our new product. We can also look at this design and know that even to make a prototype is going to be very costly. That’s the beauty and power of doing everything in software. if the design gets too complex or expensive, we can choose to make changes or drop the project entirely as I did with this watch.
I decided not to add too much detail to the rear of the watch. I was only trying to convey the overall design and didn’t want to waste time on things like the screws needed to hold the rear plate to the main body. It is up to you to decide how far you go from here.
4. Make a photorealistic rendering
Up until this point, you can pretty much tell that the watch is just a 3D model but don’t jump to conclusions so fast. These lower resolutions versions of the design are just to make things easier on the computer processors and not distract you from the invention process.
Using a few simple commands and by choosing things like background, lighting, and angles, we can create a very realistic image of our invention.
And finally, we can create an assembled version with a watchband and a nice background.
If this article doesn’t motivate you to get started with your invention idea, then nothing will. The power of computers and software make it difficult for you to come up with any more excuses.
5. Keep going and have fun
If you make it this far, you are on your way to seeing your product in the real world. You should keep going over your design and improve it until you decide what to do next. The beauty of this design phase is that it only costs time.
If you have never invented a product before and want to invent something new, these types of exercises are an excellent way to learn the process. It doesn’t matter if you plan on building your invention or not. The process of designing something will get you ready for when you are ready to turn one of your great invention ideas into reality.