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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > The Future of Nanotechnology > 3 Steps for Building Your First Nanotech Prototype

Amanda Richter

Abstract:
The nanotechnology market represents huge potential for inventors. The global nanotechnology market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 19.8 percent between now and 2019, when it will reach a value of $64.2 billion, according to BBC Research. Nanodevices, the fastest-growing market segment, are expected to grow at a CAGR of 34 percent.

September 1st, 2016

3 Steps for Building Your First Nanotech Prototype

The nanotechnology market represents huge potential for inventors. The global nanotechnology market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 19.8 percent between now and 2019, when it will reach a value of $64.2 billion, according to BBC Research. Nanodevices, the fastest-growing market segment, are expected to grow at a CAGR of 34 percent.

American inventors are moving quickly into the market, with U.S. entities filing for the most nanotechnology patents in the world. These patents are led by IBM, the University of California and Hewlett Packard. If you have a nanotechnology idea, now is the time to get in on the ground floor. But first, you need to build a prototype for your idea. Here are a few steps that will help you get your first nanotechnology prototype built.

Planning
Start by planning your prototype as a blueprint drawing before you build it. This helps you visualize details and work out solutions to problems before you build anything. It also is useful when it comes time to patent your invention. If you plan to use your drawings when you apply for your patent, the U.S. Patent Office has strict rules for how drawings must be submitted. You must use black ink on white, flexible, strong matte paper with specified sizes and margins. Color and photographs are only permitted when necessary to depict an invention.

You should include as many angles as needed to adequately show the invention. You can draw by hand or use a computer-aided design (CAD) program. Pannam Imaging provides a guide to some of the top drawing programs used by engineers. There are both 2-D and 3-D CAD drawing programs. Some programs also enable you to render a photorealistic picture of your invention. You can draw your invention yourself if you have the skill, or you can hire a professional for about $75 to $150 per sheet of patent drawings.

Finding Materials
To turn your blueprint drawing into a physical prototype, you need to locate some suitable materials. Generally speaking, you should use low-cost materials for the prototype, unless there is a compelling reason to use the actual materials your final product will use. In many cases, you can make a lookalike model of your invention out of cheap, common materials, such as boxes, cartons, foam or wood. Other useful low-cost materials include hand-moldable plastics, such as Shapelock, plasticine-like materials such as Sugru and clay such as Sculpey.

You also can obtain materials from manufacturers who offer free samples and 3-D printing options. For instance, seal industry supplier Apple Rubber provides free samples of customized o-rings. If you need help locating materials, talk to an expert such as a hardware store representative or an engineer. An engineer can also help build your prototype, or you can seek the assistance of a professional prototype development or invention development company.

Budgeting
A good argument for using cost-efficient materials is the fact that prototyping costs can add up, especially if you need to build more than one prototype. You should prepare a budget that factors in expenses such as drawing software, drawing services, materials and professional prototype development services. Also bear in mind that in addition to the costs of building your prototype itself, you also need to spend money to get your prototype patented. IPWatchdog.com explains that it typically takes its firm $2,000 to $2,500 plus filing and drawing fees to submit a patent, all of which can rise to $5,000 for complex projects.

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