Salient 2016 Highlights


Another year has gone by, and here at Salient, we have lots to be excited about!
(in no particular order) are just a few things that made our year great:

Salient 2016 HighlightsSalient Highlights

  1. Working with a wide range of customers on over 160 products this year; ranging from leaf blowers to sippy cups and from playground
    equipment to oceanic drones.
  2. Winning the Prospera Business Network’s 2016 Innovator of the Year award
  3. David Yakos won “Toy Innovator of the Year” at the ChiTag TAGIE Awards
  4. Being Finalists for two TOTYs (Toy of the Year Awards) {the Oscars of the Toy & Game world}!:
    1. Toy of the Year Finalist: Mega Tracks
    2. Game of the Year Finalist: Circuit Maze
  5. Acquiring a new 48×36 Laser cutter for large format cutting and etching fun
  6. Launching a Soft Goods Department; including new industrial sewing machines, heat-cool press, Optitex workstation, hot air welder and seam taping machine
  7. Purchasing a new FormLabs Form2 SLA 3D Printer for fast prototyping in multiple materials
  8. Attending the Outdoor Retailer (O.R.) Summer Market
  9. Attending HATCH Experience in Big Sky, Montana, and HATCH LatAm in Panama
  10. Participating in the Montana Department of Commerce’s Montana Pavilion at ISPO in Munich, Germany
  11. David addressed the Montana Ambassadors Annual Meeting & Conference as their Keynote speaker
  12. Steve addressed MMEC Compete Smart at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
  13. Winning the People’s Choice Award at Blunderbuss Maker Faire 
  14. Enjoying delicious nitrogen-frozen gelato made by Kevin from Big Horn Valve Company
  15. Attending the NY Toy Fair and receiving a Best of Toy Fair 2016 award
  16. Being written up in Forbes for creativity
  17. Collaborating with Helio + Company to create the first-ever 3D printed movie titles, which were used in The Fourth Phase

Check out some photos from all these happenings, below, and check out all the links above for more detail on our wild year!

We hope your year was fantastic, and that 2017 is filled with good things,

~The Salient Team

Kickstarter Success, New Employees & Patent Law

Client News: PowerPod Kickstarter campaign successfully funded!

iBike PowerPodSalient client, Velocomp successfully funded their Kickstarter campaign for the PowerPod cycling meter this past September, raising over $128K of their $50K goal in just 30 days!

PowerPod is a bicycle power meter that uses Velocomp’s patented power measurement technology. When c
ycling, more power means faster speeds and longer distances; better physical fitness and calorie burning.

Salient continues to support John Hamann and the Velocomp team as pre-production and tooling begin this November and production begins in the next week. If all goes according to plan, Velocomp will begin shipping fulfillment orders from their headquarters in Jupiter, FL by the end of the month. Check out the PowerPod Kickstarter campaign and post-campaign
updates here. Great work, guys!

Kirk Turner

Salient News: New Employee, Kirk Turner

The Salient team grew this June with the addition of Kirk Turner.

Originally from Maine, Kirk migrated west to the University of Utah before attending Western Washington University, where he graduated with a BS in Industrial Design and a minor in Sustainable Design in 2014. Happy to relocate to Bozeman and all the outdoor activities it has to offer, Kirk is an avid fisherman, skier, climber, cyclist and adventurer.

Kirk brings creative, precision artistry to Salient, and has expanded our in-house capabilities with his excellent Industrial Design chops.We’re excited to have Kirk on board, and all the skills he brings to the table!

Product Design Tools:  Patent Law Q&A Series with Toni Tease & David Yakos

Filing for a patent, and the entire patent process can be intimidating and confusing.  This spring, Salient’s David Yakos sat down with patent attorney Toni Tease of Intellectual Property and Technology Law to break down the patent process into bite size pieces.  You can view the Q&A series on the Salient YouTube channel. We’re still adding episodes, so check back for new videos!

The Benefits of Patent Pending – Patent Law Q&A Ep. 4

What does it mean to have a Patent Pending, and what are the benefits of being Patent Pending?

Patent Attorney, Toni Tease and Product Designer, David Yakos explore the perks of having a patent pending, and how it can impact the future of your invention.

Click the video below to listen in on their conversation, and check out other Patent Law Q&A videos on the Salient Technologies YouTube Channel

Find more info on Ms. Tease at her website, and check out her blog Intellections®

David Yakos is Co-Owner and Director of Creativity at Salient Technologies, Inc.

Provisional Patent Applications – Patent Law Q&A Ep. 2

What’s the difference between a Provision Patent Application, and a Non-Provisional Patent Application?  Are there benefits to filing for a Provisional Patent?

Find the answers in this conversation between Patent Attorney, Toni Tease, and Product Designer, David Yakos.

Click on the video below, to listen in on their conversation, and explore more Patent Law Q&A on the Salient Technologies YouTube Channel

Toni Tease is an experienced Patent Attorney and Owner of Intellectual Property & Technology Law in Billings, MT

David Yakos is Co-Owner and Director of Creativity at Salient Technologies, Inc., a prodcut design firm in Bozeman, MT

Filing for a Patent – Patent Law Q&A Ep. 1

Where is the best place to start when you’re pursuing a patent?

In this issue of Patent Law Q&A, Patent Attorney, Toni Tease and Product Designer, David Yakos answer that question by exploring what qualifies as an invention, what makes an invention patentable, and the steps necessary to file for a patent.

Click on the video below to listen in on their conversation!

Find other Patent Law Q&A Session on the Salient Technologies YouTube Channel, and keep an eye out for new videos.

Toni Tease is an experienced Patent Attorney and Owner of Intellectual Property & Technology Law in Billings, MT

David Yakos is Co-Owner and Director of Creativity at Salient Technologies, Inc., a product design firm in Bozeman, MT

Salient’s Top 10 Highlights of 2014

Top 10 Highlights of 2014

It’s been a pretty big year for us here at Salient.  Following are some of our Highlights, “Letterman-style”:

No. 10:  Salient featured in a webisode of “In The Making”

No. 9:  David as Keynote Speaker for the RJ Young 3D Printing Conf. in Nashville, TN

No. 8: Rolling out the new Salient Website

No. 7: New PC SolidWorks Workstations (that we built ourselves!)

No. 6: Hiring two new Salient Team Members – Seth & Christina

No. 5: “Product Testing” Blue Ribbon Nets’ Aquafade nets in the Beartooth Mountains and catching a hoard of trout

No. 4: Participating in HATCH 2014 in Big Sky, MT

No. 3: Attending the Chicago Toy & Game Fair & The MMEC Compete Smart Show in Billings, MT

No. 2: Flying to Dusseldorf for the World Valve Expo

And No. 1: Working on over 130 product designs THIS YEAR!

Bonus:  Numerous Epic NERF Battles in the office.

Merry Christmas

3D Printing in the News

Just in case you missed it – here’s a short feature* on 3D Printing by ABC Fox Montana starring Salient Technologies, Inc. owners David Yakos (VP, Director of Creativity) and Steve Sanford (President)!

Reporter, Rachael Aragon takes a quick look at the how’s and what’s of 3D Printing at the Salient office in Bozeman, MT…

ABC Fox Montana 3D Printing story - November 2014

*Update: March 18, 2015 – We regret that the video for this feature is no longer available, but you can still click on the photo above to read the full article.


“In The Making” – An Inside Look at the Design Process

Sharing an inside look at our design process and the journey of one of our current projects is pretty exciting – especially when it’s with Doc Mike North, host of In the Making.

In the Making takes viewers behind the scenes of spectacular projects, people and ideas while they are being created. Doc North travels the world to give viewers an inspirational look into what it takes to make scientific breakthroughs, create companies and invent the future. Follow North to catch the next big thing while it’s still IN THE MAKING.

In this episode of In the Making, we’re exploring a new, non-lethal weapon alternative and sharing a bit of the developmental process by showcasing concept design, prototyping and production design.  The non-lethal pepper spray attachment mounts to any standard picatinny rail and has a range of approximately 30 feet to assist in defusing hostile situations.

In the Making with @Doctor North

Developing a product that’s used in the field means several prototypes versions are necessary to test the feel and function of the device. It’s important that a product feels right when in hand, which isn’t something that can be determined from a digital CAD file. The product has to feel robust, secure, made for the hand, and easy to operate. In testing this product, we found physical testing helpful in figuring out nozzle size and ensuring the pepper spray reached the correct distance. We also tested and perfected one hand operation including firing, loading and reloading.

The aim in designing this product is to save the lives of people who are unnecessarily shot due to chaotic series’ of events ending in lethal force. Officers are often called to enter situations without knowing the true nature of the environment and whether they will need to be armed with lethal or non-lethal force. This product gives law enforcement an option other than lethal force without endangering themselves or civilians by needing to lowering their firearm to switch tools in the midst of conflict. Now, hostile environments that are escalating to a high-risk situation can be quickly defused before they end in a fatal shooting.  Our goal is providing an alternative to lethal force by making a product that matters.

Thank you, Doc North, for your time and energy!

David Yakos is VP and Director of Creativity at Salient Technologies, Inc.

Thinking of You… Designing for the End User

Standing in the greeting card section of my local box store, I noticed a lot of “Thinking of You” cards. Tasked with finding an appropriate birthday card, I thought, “you really have to be an intentional and thoughtful person to get a ‘just-because’, Thinking of You card for someone.” You know the cards… they’re sappy,Thinking-of-You like, “The other day I was smiling for no reason, but then I realized I was thinking of you”; or snappy, like, “Just thinking of you… which reminds me… you owe me twenty bucks.”  As product designers, we have to take this intentional and thoughtful approach in crafting our ideas if we really want to connect with the End User. Buying a card, we know the recipient needs to be cheered up because they had a bad week, or loved on because they are excessively sentimental and feed off the sap. The intent of focusing on the reader’s or users’ needs can be called “user-centered design”.

In User-Centered Design, we need to look at who this End User is from the very early stage of designing a product.  We try to foresee the little girl, old man or even the puppy who will be using the product.  Doing this requires diving into imagination, dreaming up personas and asking questions of them: Will they intuitively know how to use the product without reading the instructions? Will they use it in extreme environments? How will they hold it? Where will they store it? With what will they clean it? Will they try to eat it? In product design, we’re sometimes guilty of jumping right into feature-based design with ideas biased by personal experience and desire… “I want it to look like an iPhone. I want it water-proof and it should be yellowish-orange because I think Apple is the greatest, I’m a swimmer and I really love yellowish-orange…”  What happened to the thoughtful and intentional designer; the kind that buys thinking of you cards? Ask questions!

One fun example of asking questions for thoughtful End User design occurs when creating a new dog toy. When developing dog toys we have to ask, “Who is the End User and what will they do with it?”  Obvious, right?… it’s the dog. But, when you think about it further… the End User of a dog toy is two-fold: a partnership between the pup and its owner.  Both the dog and his master want endless play out of the toy. westpaw-5-twizThe form has to be such that the teeth of the k9 can grab but cannot easily catch and cut into the toy, encouraging a long-lasting chew.  At the same time, it has to fit the hands of the owner who has to pick it up and throw it. Will it be covered in slobber when it’s grabbed? Is there a place that would be easier to hold on? Will it hold a treat and if so, how hard will it be for the dog to get it out? Will we discourage the dog or keep him entertained? How will it fly if thrown? Is the dog owner environmentally conscious and would they prefer an eco-friendly material? Does it matter to the owner where the product was made? Would they clean it if it was an easy process? Will this product ever end up in a pond and if so, should it float? How will this product make them feel? Yep, we have to talk about feelings.

In developing West Paw Design’s Tizzi, we envisioned a dog toy that could offer virtually endless play. We accomplished this by focusing on interactions between the users and toy while playing at the park or at home – not on the toy itself. Through our questions it was revealed that the form could not have sharp edges that would tear if a tooth got caught. In a game of tug-of-war there had to be room for teeth and fingers. If part of the toy became covered in slobber there had to be other grabbing options, or at least a texture to help mitigate the mess. A treat could be hidden in a chamber and the handles twisted and locked to allow for indoor play – possibly on the kitchen floor. The treat chamber would encourage prolonged play for the dogs with obsessive personalities…but what about a high energy dog at the park?  On the Tizzi, when the handles are twisted and locked the age-old game of fetch is enhanced by a toy that flies like a spiral thrown football resulting in even more fun for both End Users.

Lola with her Tizzi

Lola with her Tizzi.

With more questions answered, we select an appropriate material. The award-winning ZogoFlex material offers indestructibility, is recyclable, non-toxic, dishwasher safe, can be made in the USA and it is less dense than water allowing it to float if thrown into a pond or lake. Material selection alone allowed us to hit some major design criteria which were defined by focusing on the End User’s experience. Ultimately, we were successful in creating a product that makes the dog and owner feel good – good about getting exercise, good about environmentally conscious purchases and good about the enhanced relationship after solid playtime.

By asking and answering questions like these, we narrow down the intent of the product which governs the form and final function – not the other way around. We become intentional designers by just Thinking of You

David Yakos is VP and Director of Creativity at Salient Technologies, Inc.

The Importance of an Animation – Using 3D CAD to Tell Stories

If a picture is worth a thousands words, then at 30 frames per second, a video is worth its weight in gold…

Seal Master

In the product design world, a high value is placed on sharing ideas, which springboard to greater things. Animations are helpful for both proof of concept prior to an idea being fully fleshed out and for products that are ready to manufacture.  Today, videos play a pivotal role in getting a product seen by the right person or group, and often lead to purchase or licensing agreements. With social media playing such a large role in our society, creating a video that highlights the key features of your design and why it stands apart from others can be a key player in getting a product to market.

Take Kickstarter for example. Each crowd-funding campaign is required to have a video to share the story behind the idea of what’s being pitched and all the elements that make this particular product worth monetary backing. Frequently, these products are still in a prototype phase, so the value of an animation is immeasurable in being able to paint a picture of something that could potentially exist, but needs funding to actually reach the manufacturing stage.

Earlier this year, Seal Master Corporation approached Salient Technologies, Inc. for help showcasing a product. Using 3D CAD and video editing software, the STI Team was able to provide Seal Master with a technical animation showcasing their inflatable seals and the components that set it apart from the competition. Salient delivered the video they envisioned to communicate product features to potential client and grow their business.

Check out the video animation below:

After working with STI, Dan Jackson, IT Manager for Seal Master Corporation had only good things to say:
“Salient Technologies has been wonderful to work with. From initial draft to final revision, our animation has been created exactly how we envisioned. When many other design firms fell short with our concept, Salient had the knowledge and vision to deliver. They provide quality work for a fair price. Looking forward to working with them in the future for all of our technical animation needs.”

Let Salient Technologies, Inc. help share your idea and vision through the power of animation!

Get in touch!