While no two projects are alike, our experience has taught us that most projects follow a similar process from idea to the finish line. We approach all product development with a time-tested method to execute projects efficiently and spend resources where they add value.
Our product development process begins with empathy. Before we begin, we need to fully understand the intent of the product from a usability standpoint.
We don’t look at a device as a part to be made, but seek to discover “what job is this system going to be performing?” A typical product development process starts with customer discovery to drive the features behind a well-documented product specification. We also like to perform quick prior-art patent reviews and learn the regulatory requirements for the systems we will be undertaking to flag any risks from the beginning and to avoid surprises down the road. This all feeds into creating a product specification.
From this, we then brainstorm various means of achieving similar goals while balancing features like functionality, life, aesthetics, and cost. Cost can mean development cost, tooling cost, and unit costs, for example. Typically product specifications create conflicting requirements, for example when people ask for something to be lightweight, inexpensive, and strong. Sometimes some requirements just got to give and we will point this out, raise concerns, and provide reasoning and options.
3. Initial Prototyping
From our brainstorming efforts, we will typically select a few systems to storyboard, mock-up, and create proof-of-concept prototypes to quickly and cost-effectively demonstrate the design intent.
4. Refined Prototyping
From analyzing this group of prototypes, we will typically then focus our efforts to combine the features and functionality of what worked well and seek to provide a single solution. However, more often than not we will come up with new unforeseen discoveries that lead to upgrades. We will then start to focus on a single design with manufacturability in mind from the beginning, and create a high-fidelity prototype to be evaluated for form/fit/function.
Using our machining centers or 3D printer, we then produce the system of components to be evaluated to ensure the design meets the requirements we set forth to achieve. Upon approving this first piece, we can then rapidly produce however many more sets of systems are desired, typically 1-99 more.
6. Iteration through evaluation
These designs are then likely tested out in the field by targeted users for evaluation and feedback. From the user insights or testing, it is likely that another iteration of refinement will be necessary prior to designing for mass production.
7. Steps to Commercialization
With the decision to move forward, we will then reach out to suppliers and design components for mass fabrication to optimize for cost and functionality. We can communicate through CAD models, part drawings, and assemblies to receive part quotes and quality examples. Upon reviewing quotes from a variety of suppliers, we can then make a recommendation but leave the decisions up to you on whom to move forward with to production.