When Danielle Aylmer, recent graduate of Tottenville High School in Staten Island, enrolled in a local chapter of the Young Entrepreneur Academy (YEA), her focus was simply on developing her idea into a marketable product.
“As a kid I was really afraid to get shots,” Aylmer said. “To me, the scariest part was actually seeing the needle and knowing it was about to be jabbed into my skin. So I thought if you could sort of conceal that, and make it so the kid doesn’t see the syringe, she’s not going to tense up, and when she receives the injection it’s not going to hurt as much.”
After months of refining her product design and developing a business plan, Aylmer took her idea for “Syngies,” a toy that attaches to syringes used by pediatricians, to a Staten Island Chamber of Commerce-hosted competition held in April 2014. Her hard work paid off when she was rewarded with the top prize of $1,125 to help get her business off the ground.
Now equipped with funds and a mandate to roll out an initial prototype, Aylmer’s search for an affordable production strategy led her to the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center (HVAMC) at SUNY New Paltz.
“In my research I found that molding was just way too much money, but 3D printing could be affordable,” Aylmer said. “At first I made plans to purchase my own printer, but then we found out about the great MakerBot Innovation Center in New Paltz.”
Aylmer soon got in touch with Dan Freedman, director of the HVAMC and dean of the School of Science & Engineering at New Paltz, to begin discussing a possible working relationship. Aylmer knew that 3D printing would likely be the most cost-effective way to roll out her Syngies, but she lacked the digital design expertise needed to create an iterative model.
In this challenge Freedman saw an opportunity to connect Aylmer with a New Paltz student. He approached HVAMC intern Lori Jockers ’16 (Mechanical Engineering), who is combining her interests in engineering and creative arts through digital design and fabrication programs at the College.
“Danielle needed someone who was creative and who had experience with computer-aided design (CAD) software to improve upon her original design,” Jockers said. “I’m majoring in Mechanical Engineering but I’m also minoring in Art Studio, which made me a good candidate.”
Jockers and Aylmer began exchanging ideas about how to bring the first Syngies design, a toy car shape, into being.
“Going into this project I did a lot of research about syringes and how they’re used because the main concern was safety,” Jockers said. “I wanted to create a toy car that would not only fit onto a syringe, but also not be an obstruction when in use. At the same time, I wanted to use my creativity to make the object more aesthetically pleasing. Danielle thought her original model could look more child-friendly, so I personified the car with eyes and a mouth. In the end, I felt I was able to develop a product that my customer loved as much as I did.”
The success of the collaboration was confirmed this summer, when Aylmer received the first production line of 500 multi-colored Syngies. “They look perfect,” Aylmer said. “Better than I ever expected!” As she moves into the sales and marketing phase of her business plan, Aylmer said she plans to continue contracting with the HVAMC as her business grows.
As for Jockers, the experience of working with a real client bestowed a sense of confidence and direction that she will look to apply as she completes her degree and enters the professional realm.
“I have always been creative and had a passion for design,” Jockers said. “Working on this project made me realize how much I would like a career as a design engineer, bringing new ideas to life.”
About New Paltz’s 3D Printing Initiative
Since launching the HVAMC in spring 2013, the College’s effort to fuse learning and manufacturing, science and the arts has continued to gain momentum. In February 2014, the College partnered with Brooklyn, N.Y. – based MakerBot, the leading manufacturer of desktop 3D printers, to open the nation’s first MakerBot Innovation Center at SUNY New Paltz. The 3D Printing Initiative received additional funding in fall 2014, including a $10 million NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant to help establish an Engineering Innovation Hub and$850,000 in capital funding for a new 3D printing laboratory. In December 2013, the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded the College $1M in state economic development funds. Currently, the HVAMC is providing digital design and fabrication expertise to about 60 businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the region. The Center also engages the local community and educates the public about the possibilities of 3D printing. Workshops and courses for K-12 educators, including through the Governor’s New York State Master Teachers Program, have attracted a wide variety of teachers, from art to science, who have an interest in digital design and fabrication and are utilizing these new technologies in their classrooms.