Our design & Prototype Process
Our objective is to assist you in launching a successful product. For us to ensure your product is a success and save you time and money, it is important that the design process is done right. In order to do this successfully, communication is key. So, we have laid out a simplified version of our design process in 8 steps. We have also explained the advantages of making a prototype below. Remember that as we work with you on your project that we can't jump ahead in the process because as the saying goes, you don't put the cart before the horse. While going into this process, remember that you can have any two of the following things, but you can't have all three.
Advantages of Making A Prototype
How can making a prototype help you and your business? Here are just some of the ways:
Show your customers and investors a physical model of your product
Demonstrate the appearance, dimensions and features of your product
Test the market with your product before production
Save time and money by identifying and reducing design flaws
Improve and streamline the production process
Create multiple versions with different colors, surface textures and finishing processes
The power of a physical model is the tangible communication of your idea to collaborators, stakeholders and clients. A 3D printed concept model is your vision made real, evoking excitement and facilitating feedback.
Build extremely light, large-scale concept models in record time with our exclusive hollow build method, ID-Light. Our expansive finishing services further your vision with paint, decals and real-product cosmetics.
Create any form imaginable with 3D printing’s design freedom, producing models direct from your CAD design. Blend aesthetics and function into an incredible model, in your hands and ready for display faster than conventional manufacturing methods can deliver.
The Design Process
1) The Brief
This part of the design process is intended to lay out the project objective. This is where we will come together with you to cover all your ideas, goals / objectives, wants, needs, and project variations. Then we can bring everything together to make your product a success. This part of the design process is very important because it will be what sets the tone of the project. Just like in anything, communication is extremely important. Which is why when we meet. It may take some time to make sure everyone leaves on the same page and satisfied with the direction the project is headed. Sometimes this process is broken up over a few days or weeks so that you can think things over, and we can make sure the project starts off in the right direction. It can be hard to take time during this part of the process because it is exciting. But taking the time to start right can save time and money in the long run.
As we talk about what is most important to you in your product, needs and wants should be differentiated because unnecessary constraints will increase project difficulty, cost, and can hinder creativity. It is important that we talk about all the constraints and features you want in your product now because changing something later could possibly mean the entire process has to be started all over. This would mean the cost of the product and the time put towards it will increase drastically. Sometimes changes can be easily added to a product later in the design process but, it's usually is much more complicated than it sounds. Which is why this step of the design process is so important because we want to save time and make creating your product as economical as possible. As we talk about your constraints keep in mind that compromising with some of the things you first thought were important can also lead to a better final product for you.
Additionally, we will talk about what level of prototype will best suit your needs. Prototypes are used for; proof of concept, proof of design, testing, feedback, or for showing to investors. Prototypes range from low fidelity (3-D prints, cardboard, Glue and taped shapes) to high fidelity (looks and works very much like the final product). Note that often more than one prototype is necessary to develop a quality product.
At the end of this we should have a very rough idea of how long the project will take but keep in mind that when creating something new and unique for the first time there can be unanticipated setbacks. Taking the time to get this part of the design process right will pay off throughout the rest of the project.
This phase is interwoven throughout the entire design process. We will start with some initial research in the brief, which will lead to more in depth research that will continue throughout each stage of the product development.
We take the information we got from you, our research, and prior experience to start generating ideas. When designing products several things need to come together, including what you want it to do/be, manufacturability (can it be made economically), aesthetics (does it look good), ergonomics and making it function. We also have to think about user experience, combining features, and the laws of physics.
Once we have it narrowed down to a few ideas, it's time to consult with you again, and decide on a specific direction.
At this point the 3D model will start to be developed and it will continue to be refined as the process continues.
Here is where we first to bring your idea into the physical world. Depending on the circumstances we may start with a low fidelity proof of concept prototype (like using simple 3-D prints, cardboard, paper, and tape) and then progress to more real-life prototypes that can be used and tested.
Testing is an important part of the design process. It is better to get feedback now, while testing instead of after the product has been launched and there are customers trying to return it. Although we are testing for many things, some things to look for when testing a product may include:
How and when is your product is going to break?
Where needs to be strengthened?
Is one part going to wear out faster than another?
6) Perfecting the Prototype
Based on what is learned from testing, we will continue to ideate and perfect the final design. We may end up running through the research, ideate, prototype, and testing steps several times before the perfect / final design is created.
At this point we need to decide if the product is okay or if major changes are necessary. Sometimes it is necessary for revisions to be made. This may mean that we need to go through some or all the previous steps again and refine some of the design or all of it. If a change needs to be made at this point, there is a high chance that much more time and expense will be needed in order to redo the whole process. This is the reason we try to get all the information we can at the start, during the briefing process and why considering to take some extra time during the briefing process is so important.
8) Assembling a Tech Pack
Once the design is tested, finalized and approved, we assemble and create all the information needed to send to a manufacturing facility so they can successfully make your new product.
Assembling a Tech Pack is an important process that takes careful attention to detail and time. If this step is rushed, mistakes are easily missed and a wrong number, size, dimension, thread length, or material, can cause rejected parts, mold reworks, or delays.
Tech Packs include a lot of files and data that need to be organized professionally. Tech packs can include the following:
Part Files: STL, IGES, STEP
Renderings- Individual parts, assemblies, and exploded views.
Technical Drawings- Carefully dimensioned and specified
Reference Information- Any relevant information for the product, assembly or components.
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