Conceptualizing, designing, creating, and developing products from start to finish is a time-consuming, arduous endeavor. Thankfully, many companies have successfully navigated the process in the past, and we’ve managed to help many of them along the way. In this blog, we’ll discuss different ways to leverage previous experience in order to successfully bring a product to market. (Of note, if you’re in the medical device industry, read this blog instead.)
What distinguishes the consumer product development process from other creative endeavors?
At the risk of sounding unencouraging, bringing a product to market from concept to reality is a distinctly challenging venture in many cases. One of the biggest reasons for this is that there are so many opportunities for failure. For instance, perhaps the concept is wrong to begin with, or the design is inefficient, or the wrong materials are selected, or perhaps the manufacturing process was not optimized. Once the product is manufactured, then it must be accurately priced, marketed well, and sent to the right distributors. Any one of these steps presents opportunity for inefficiency or even failure. There are, however, many ways to mitigate mistakes in the consumer product development process. Let’s take a look!
Optimizing the consumer product development process for success
- Make sure you have a good idea to begin with. This a common scenario in the product development sphere: someone identifies a problem, devises a solution, and attempts to “revolutionize” xyz industry. But the person who comes up with a solution must have the proper context and appropriate industry knowledge in order for this idea to carry any water. While one of these ideas may be a homerun every so often, a more common outcome is that an important consideration has been overlooked, or there are serious design flaws that will prevent an idea from coming to market. Consider: does your idea objectively improve or bring something new? Would someone outside of the industry, with only limited knowledge, say that it is a revolutionary idea? The time and financial resources required to see a product through to shelves can be substantial - potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. If that number makes you balk, you’re not alone. But consider that a product often needs to be designed, developed, prototyped, tested, sent through market research, and then through the mass manufacturing process...and then on to retailers. When viewed in this light, the tens of thousands it may take to create a prototype upfront can be considered a worthwhile investment
- Design and engineering has to be on point for product development success. There are a few ways to approach design and engineering for new concepts. One is to modify, adapt, or build upon a previous model, or use COTS equipment (commercial-off-the-shelf). A distinct advantage to this approach is that typically a previous model has already been proven in the market, or at least sent through a battery of tests. This means that the costs of prototyping, testing, and manufacturing a piece of equipment have already been borne by someone else. However, one must also consider patents, trademarks, and pricing when using COTS or previously developed equipment.
Another approach to designing for product development is to start from scratch. This allows a piece to be custom made, meeting all of the objectives that are required. For instance, a good design and engineering team will be able to design for various characteristics such as:
- Design for affordability and minimizing costs of production
- Design for assembly in the product development process
- Design for particular tolerances
- Design that is optimized for the manufacturing process (and injection molding in particular)
- Overall performance; read this blog to get a quick summary of various design characteristics like cost, reliability, logistics, and more
Depending on the particular requirements for your product, a great design and engineering team will be able to prioritize the most important characteristics of function, as well aesthetic appeal.
- The importance of using the right materials in product development cannot be overstated. There is a balance to be struck between achieving proper reliability and function, while also keeping manufacturing and materials costs low. A product needs to function well in order to succeed in the market, but companies must also make the bottom line work. Did you know that there are hundreds of plastics (let alone other materials) that can be injection molded? The availability of materials just increases as other product development manufacturing methods are considered. It’s important to consider what function you want a particular piece to accomplish, and which material is most appropriate to make that happen. Does a piece need to be pliable or rigid? Will it be exposed to heat or extreme temperature deviations? How does Factor of Safety affect the materials required for design? It’s a common mistake to assume that a state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line material is the right one to utilize, but if its good qualities aren’t pertinent to your project, then they are essentially useless - and may cost more money overall. For instance, why use a 40% glass filled nylon when polyethylene would do the trick just as well? The best material for injection molding and other manufacturing processes is the one that best fits your requirements
Resources to learn more about product development
We have compiled many resources for those who want to learn more about the consumer product development process, and to create opportunities for education. Here are some of the programs we offer to help companies, engineers, and entrepreneurs:
- Return on Investment calculator. Our ROI calculator (find it here) is a free, quick resource available to help you get ballpark figures for a project. You’ll learn the quantity needed to recover your investment, profit, and investment required to break even. This is a great tool to play with at the beginning of product development.
- Online classes from the experts. For $49.99, you can take a class from the Creative Mechanisms crew in the comfort of your own home. We have a PLASTICS course, a MANUFACTURING course, and a comprehensive INVENTORS course. Course summaries are available at the links, but we think you’ll be pleased with the content and convenience.
- Learn about products we have developed for others. On this page, you can view some of the projects we have created for previous clients. Please note that this is a small sample, and that the presence of NDAs with clients may preclude comprehensive discussion with others about the work we’ve done on a particular product.
- Consultation with Tony Rogers, CEO. Tony combines integrity, experience, and honesty to provide a valuable consultation for inventors and entrepreneurs curious about the consumer product development process. In his own words, “This [meeting] is the exploration of whether or not it makes sense to invest in [your] idea. This is intended to be challenging; it is a gut check that no one else will give you. Please do not be offended by it. This conversation is more about determining the odds of seeing a return on your investment than exploring technical issues.” If this sounds like a helpful resource to you, then email us or call 215-788-4566 to book a meeting.
Creative Mechanisms can shepherd your project through the product development process
Creative Mechanisms has helped companies, engineers, and entrepreneurs successfully bring products to market in many industries. We are best adapted to assist with concept development, design and engineering, prototyping, and testing the design in our Product Viability Testing Lab. We have established a proven network of manufacturing partners, with whom we work extensively. One of our most sought-after skills is our expertise with plastics and familiarity with the injection molding process. When working with you in product development, we offer competence, transparency, effective communication, and the creativity and work ethic to get your projects completed on time and within budget. Please visit our Customer Testimonial page, or contact us today!
Click here to learn more about Accelerating the Product Development Process
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