Jun 11, 2015 | By Simon

Although the use of 3D printing in the product design and development process has been common for decades now, the use of the technology to create prototypes for Kickstarter campaigns has helped the technology surge with mainstream users.  

The process of using 3D printing during the hardware design process - which is oftentimes referred to as rapid prototyping - allows designers and engineers to work with accurate representations of their designs as they further iterate on a final design direction.  While this was oftentimes done to test ergonomics and fit, the increased quality and wide variety of color options has made various 3D printing materials more desirable for creating a convincing prototype that is worthy for today’s modern crowdfunding campaigns.  

Among others who have taken to use 3D printing to create a viable product for a Kickstarter campaign are the creators of the recently-launched HidrateMe Smart Water Bottle - which has already raised nearly $250,000 with over a month left to go in the campaign.  

Founded by company CEO Nadya Nguyen, HidrateMe was born out of a Google Startup Weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota in September of 2014 along with a team of fellow University of Minnesota students.  In just 54 hours, the team was able to build their very first prototype for the water bottle that was capable of tracking water intake while simultaneously relaying the data to a smartphone for ease-of-use.   

“We won third place and people began asking when the water bottles would be available for purchase,” said Nguyen.   

“That’s the moment we knew they were on to something.  We worked evenings and weekends for 7 months before being accepted into the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator powered by Techstars.”

After their acceptance, the team all quit their jobs and “left everything behind to work on a product that we believed in.”  Over a three-month period, the team spent countless hours further developing the design of the water bottle.  

Today, the team of young entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, marketers and developers consists of CEO Nadya Nguyen along with Alexander "Ham" Hambrock, Coleman Iverson,Daniel Worku and Alexandra Feeken.  Their latest iteration of the prototype that was born during the Startup Weekend last year was made possible thanks to the use of 3D printing.  

“We reiterated multiple bottle designs before deciding to go with the final Hidrate Me,” says Nguyen.  “The lid was another challenge in itself and we 3D printed and tested several before finalizing our design.”

For their final design, the HidrateMe team developed a  24 oz. - 710 ml. reusable water bottle, made out of BPA free Tritan plastic. The design is dishwasher safe and comes with a leak proof cap.  An included sensor stick inside the bottle automatically tracks how much a user drinks throughout the day by sending the information to the Hidrate app on a smartphone while simultaneously glowing when it’s time to drink more water.

“Designed with you in mind, our app has a friendly and thoughtful user interface,” says the team on their Kickstarter page.  

“Starting with your height, weight, age and activity level the app calculates just how much water you should be drinking throughout the day … it’s easy to see your progress towards your goals, and you also receive reminders if you fall off track. The app also integrates with your wearables to help tune your water goals even more accurately to your activities. Using your location, the app can adjust your daily water goal depending on the temperature, humidity, and elevation of your surroundings.”

While the team has successfully created multiple 3D printed versions of their bottle design, the next step is to move into mass manufacturing the bottle using traditional manufacturing methods.

“Many small companies face difficulties when it comes to manufacturing new products, from design problems to unexpected costs,” explains the team.   

“That's why we've made it a priority from the very beginning to involve manufacturers every step of the way, catching issues before they had a chance to become problems. Members of our team have seen multiple products through from concept to manufacturing.”

If all goes as planned, the team hopes to be shipping the bottles in Winter of 2015 - just in time for Christmas.  For those that are interested in a HidrateMe Smart Water Bottle, they can be purchased starting at just $45.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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