Design and Development process
My clients approach me at all stages of the development of their idea. They could have an idea in their head, which they have not even drawn on the back of an envelope yet or they could have a product already in manufacture, which they want to re-design.
I have got the expertise to assist you with the design or your product at any stage of its existence.
This section shows you what the process is, step by step, starting from the initial idea for the product. My design process follows a structured programme with each of the stages and their corresponding activities:
1- Stage name
6- Time scales
At this stage, the concept design has been identified for development. Research into other products in the market and in patents is carried out in order to establish what the product should be like to be unique. The Computer Aided design, in detail is initiated.
Test pieces and block models are usually made, at this stage, to help in the Computer Design. These items can represent aspects of the design which need to be verified in a real life situation even though the product does not function as full working prototype.
The Computer development includes the mechanical, ergonomic, functional, cost analysis and aesthetic aspects. It also incorporates the engineering work by other engineers such as electronics design. I have substantial experience liaising with engineers who work in parallel in the development of these parts of the product.
Once the Computer development has been carried out, it is necessary to prove the theory and virtual design with actual working prototypes that prove the performance of the product. The prototypes represent the kit of parts, designed by computer, that make up a functional product.
One of the most important developments in prototyping is that of 3D printing, where a 3D CAD model is re-constructed in a real life 3D object, usually made of plastic. However, nowadays 3D printing can be done in various metals, soft plastics, ceramic and wax. It can incorporate colour too. The prototypes below are made in 3D printing, in metal and plastic.
The prototypes can be made in a wide variety of materials and processes: machined, cast or cut and folded metals; cast, machined, vacuum formed or 3D printed plastics; machined wood, blown glass, cast rubber, even 3D printed paper!
Trials and testing
The prototypes are primarily used for carrying out checks of their performance with tests in a lab or in the field. Mostly, they are used by actual users but they can also be used for testing to rigorous standards such as mechanical performance and safety.
The testing of prototypes allow for corrections to be made to the design prior to committing to expensive manufacture and prior to releasing the product to the market where problems can arise if the product fails in use.
The prototypes can also used for the purpose of marketing, introduction to buyers, raising funds, website and printed literature, trade shows and the like.
For this stage, I carry out the work to prepare the product for manufacture. This often requires liaison with the people who will make the parts of the product and assemble it. It could be one manufacturer only or a group of manufacturing subcontractors specialising in different materials and processes.
The work to prepare the product for manufacture consists of making all necessary corrections after the prototypes are tested, preparation of manufacturing specifications, adaptation of the parts design to the manufacturing process, preparation of instruction drawings, issuing CAD data and obtaining manufacturing costings.
As the manufacturing progresses, it is my job to liaise with the manufacturers and support them as well as supervise their tool manufacture, production samples, costings, quality control and assembly. I report back to the Client on the progress to make quality products as per the intended design.
Of course the next stage is to sell the product in large quantities and make a lot of money!
This is the initial conceptual stage where the idea is illustrated in the form of sketches and, later, in the form of the first computer modelling. It is necessary to put down on paper as many ideas as possible, before even evaluating them.
The mind should be allowed to pour out all possible initial alternatives for the product design before it gets conditioned by one alternative or what exists in the market.
The communication between the Client and me is essential, at this stage, in order to carefully determine the right concept to work on in the development stages. Choosing a wrong concept will lead to considerable waste of time, money and effort, when it is found that the concept was not feasible.