How do you start inventing ? Inspiration is the key motivator. If you are inspired, you can do anything. The first book I read which really jumpstarted my interest in improving that status quo, or bringing reality into a product, was a book called, “Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World.” (Alan Weisman ISBN 1603580565 and 978-1603580564) The book describes the imagination of one man, named Paolo Lugari, who inspires a community, and generation of people in Colombia, to build a better society the the most challenging part of the world.
Innovation: Can take many forms from art, science, industry, life, and just for fun. Many like to take a problem, and build solutions to help people. Others just like to build ideas and see where they go.
Tools: Your mind. All of the greatest of inventors, scientists, and artists were able to visualize, and build their ideas and concepts in their mind. The best were able to not only build, but test theories, just by thinking about them. To start with, all you need is your inspiration, a piece of paper, and something to write with. When you draw or write down your idea, sign and date every piece of paper. Hone your drawing skills, practice drawing. Make simple notations, using block letters. Many of the great inventors, like Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci , were also artists, and able to convey their thoughts on paper, or on a painting.
Methodology: It’s always good to have a strategy. Randomness is sometimes the best method in art, but in other disciplines, it’s good to have a plan.
Organization: I organize my ideas, concepts, writing, drawings, and anything I may end up duplicating, into a organizational database called Filemaker. What starts in my mind and transposed onto paper, will end up at some point in a Filemaker solution that I have written. Time is your most valuable, and most scarce resource. Using it wisely means not duplicating things, time after time. I have developed a simple drawing template on Filemaker you can download and use (free).
Inventors Drawing Sheet PDF (Vertical Positioning): 2018-infinity-electrostatics-vertical-inventor-sheet
Inventors Drawing Sheet PDF (Horizontal Positioning): 2018-infinity-electrostatics-horizontal-inventor-sheet
Build It: Part of the fun of invention, is seeing your creation come to life. This can be in the form of a model, or full sized version. Most anything can be made from paper, cardboard (foamboard), plywood, and glue. Prototypes of many of the cars and aircraft we see today, were first envisioned in clay, or plywood. New to the prototyping space are the vast array of 3D printers (many available at a very low cost). My favorite prototyping device is the laser engraver. It’s not only great for 2D cutting and marking, but by stacking layers, you can build 3D objects. They’re fantastic for art too. Learning how to work with epoxy resin, which you can reinforce with carbon or other strong fibers, gives you access to building 3D objects without a 3D printer. I’m working on a low cost resin now (Pine Resin) and also experimenting with sugar (it’s cheap, heats easily, and easily recycled).
CAD/CAM: Some prefer to draw ideas using CAD/CAM. Others prefer pencil and paper, since it’s faster. In the commercial space, typically I’ll draw out a concept, bring it over to Filemaker for a basic drawing, then contract a professional to engineering the CAD/CAM part, while coordinating with a shop professional, who knows material tolerances and machinability. You may have a fantastic design, but if you can’t build it, it’s may only be a great idea. Google offers a basic 3D drawing program online, as do some professional software groups (like AutoDesk 360). Many of these are free or on a trial basis.
Testing Functionality: Probably the most challenging part of inventing or innovating a product, and trying to bring it to market is testing the functionality of the method, or device.
Marketability: If you are innovating for profit, you’ll need a market for your product. This is a huge area which can best be researched on the internet and publications. This site is more geared towards idea creation and development.
Knowledge: Your best tool for building your concept is knowledge. Knowledge gives you time, by applying what has been done before, and can save you lots of time (your most valuable resource when inventing). I usually do a pdf or image search for something I have in mind, to see if it’s already been done. I’m I’m passionate about the idea, then I’ll see what works, and what doesn’t about the current innovation, and make it better.
Problem Solving: Most of the great engineers, artists, imagineers, and scientists are great problem solvers. As mirrored in life, some things will work, others will not. Those who are good at figuring out how to build on success, and learn from failure, ultimately will have the breadth to develop for success. Struggling idea developers repeat failures, instead of learning from them. Duplicate what actually works, don’t recycle things that do not.
Challenge Yourself: The fun part of inventing is challenging yourself to develop your ideas, inspire others, and make things which started only as a idea in your mind.
Share Your Ideas: If you want to inspire others, motivate builders, and mentor young minds, think about sharing your ideas. Whether it’s teaching in person, sharing online, or in publications, sometimes giving the gift of inspiration will make your legacy in time, one that outlasts you. One of my YouTube favorites is Jaimie Manztel. If you want to see how to build something, from virtually nothing, Jaimie is inspirational. Of course, I’ve read most of the patents and books on Nikola Tesla.