Oct 22, 2015 | By Kira

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and so even at eight-years-old, Max Ash knew he had come up with a great idea when his grade-two classmates started to copy his design for a mug with a basketball net that lets users ‘slam dunk’ marshmallows into their hot chocolate. Originally sculpted out of clay as part of an art class project, Max and his family saw business potential in the aptly named Mug With A Hoop, but knew they’d need a better way to prototype designs. 3D printing technology, recognized by entrepreneurs as the fastest and cheapest way to produce small-batch iterations, not only brought Max’s idea to life, but also led to a patented, best-selling product that has already sold over 18,000 versions worldwide.

When Max first brought his idea home, his parents were overwhelmed with a very special pride. At the age of five, Max was diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to read, write, and process language. “When we was first diagnosed, we were worried about what his life would unfold to be,” said Max’s mother, Jennifer. However after that fateful day, they quickly realized that his so-called ‘disability’ enabled him with a beautifully creative mind that they know see as a “dyslexic advantage.”

Having recognized the business potential, Max and his parents turned to Sean O’Reilly at local company 3D Printsmith, which used 3D Systems’ to print a physical model of the basketball-themed mug. With his professional prototype in hand, Max went on to showcase the concept at the Product Pitch at Fenway contest in Boston, and became the only child named as a top ten finalist. Actually having a working prototype in hand, as opposed to a mere concept or even his initial clay design, played a huge role in helping him get noticed by the judges.

Max Ash with his 3D printed Mug With A Hoop prototype

Though all parents probably think that they’re child’s ideas are the best, many can’t justify making a huge investment into manufacturing prototypes. But as Jennifer Ash explains “3D printing became a mechanism by which we could do a smaller investment to see what could be out of this idea.” “I knew the idea of putting a basketball hoop on a mug was a good idea when my friends copied me,” said Max, now 11, who received a patent for his design this past spring. “But it wasn’t until I held the amazing 3D printed prototype in my hands that I knew this could actually be a successful business.”

With his 3D Systems’ printed prototype has a demo, Max launched a crowdfunding campaign that quickly surpassed his fundraising goals. 3D printed parts were used to create molds for an initial manufacturing run in the US, and by the following year he had initiated large-scale overseas production to bring the mugs to the market. Major retailers including UncommonGoods, Nordstrom and even the Basketball Hall of Fame saw the Mug With A Hoop flying off the shelves, with 18,000 mugs sold during the 2014 holiday season alone. Not bad for a dyslexic eight-year-old whose parents and teachers initially worried about his future.

Since his initial success with the basketball crowd, Max has gone on to expand his MAXI’IS Creations offerings with The Mug With A Glove, The Mug With A Goalpost, The Soccer Mug With A Goal, and other sports-themed mugs. For each new product design, Max used 3D printing technology to refine designs and navigate manufacturing obstacles.

And having never lost sight of his own beginnings, Max remains committed to supporting kids just like him. Five percent of the profits from the sale of MAX’IS Creations mugs are donated to charities and non-profits that raise awareness about dyslexia and empower dyslexic children to unlock their true potential. “With 3D printing and scanning, children are able to take their most creative concepts and turn them into something real, meaningful and tangible—even a successful business,” said Cathy Lewis, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, 3DS. “Our technology gives everyone the means to unlock their own human potential.”

Proud mom Jennifer Ash couldn’t agree more: “3D printing was instrumental in shortcutting the steps required for manufacturing a new product…What 3D printing technology allowed us to do was take a genius idea and turn it into a best-selling product.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Jeffrey Goodman wrote at 1/28/2016 7:19:04 PM:

I love the fact that the 3d printer allowed him to fulfill his creative idea. I think that's one great thing about these printers, it allows us to be creative. Being able to turn our ideas into a reality; it's fantastic!

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