For the third year in a row, Star Prototype played host to a group of young entrepreneurs and visionaries who were part of the “accelerator” program of HAX of Shenzhen, China. (www.hax.co) This year was the best yet, demonstrating STAR’s commitment to reaching out to the larger prototyping community to encourage makers to bring their ideas to market in the fastest way possible.
First of all, just who exactly is HAX and what is an accelerator? Here is how they describe themselves: “Learning about prototyping tools and small scale manufacturing is a great way to understand how things are built. HAX has invested in dozens of hardware startups and the expertise of places like Star Prototype help them go from prototype to product much faster and better.”
Accelerators are basically independent, third-party companies or investment firms which connect inventors and product designers with manufacturing partners, helping to “accelerate” the process of turning a great idea into a marketable product. In the case of HAX, they provide seed money, a dedicated workshop and office space, mentorship and expert advice in a focused, results-oriented environment. Product designers, inventors and entrepreneurs compete to be selected by HAX, who then choose the product ideas they think are most likely to become successful and most worthy of their investment. In return HAX receives an equity stake in the resulting company or product, thus providing a revenue stream to help support the next generation of great ideas.
Those chosen by HAX to be in their accelerator program commit themselves to an intensive course in Shenzhen, working to bring their ideas to life. But many designers and inventors often have little or no direct experience in manufacturing or machine technology or what it takes to actually produce a finished part. To that end, HAX turns to Star Prototype to offer a first-hand look at what a modern machine shop is capable of. STAR was ready with a scheduled factory tour, giving in-depth introductions to our major capabilities: 3D metal printing; CNC machining; painting; model shop finishing; plastic injection molding; quality control; vacuum casting and more. Most of the attendees had never before seen any of these processes for themselves.
The lively exchange of ideas and information at the HAX meeting left every attendee not only grateful for the opportunity to learn first-hand how a world-class factory operates, but also inspired them to return immediately to the drawing board to further refine their ideas and prototypes and get them ready for mass production. STAR is happy to work with companies like HAX to encourage product designers of the future.