Essential Phases of Product Design

In our last post, we discussed the first phase of product design and the important questions that needed to be considered when starting your project. In this post, we will continue that discussion more in depth and expand on what phase 2 of your product design should look like.

In phase 2 you will already have decided on what initial resources you will need to begin the development of your product. You will likely have had several discussions with a design house such as Level, LLC or a in individual consultant. One important decision to make here is what your budget for the project should be. A thorough and well-seasoned design house should be able to give you realistic numbers for your budget considerations. It is not uncommon for injection mold vendors to shy away from giving you ballpark estimates on their tooling which is why some of them have resorted to what would seem to be convenient online quoting tools. This helps to filter or even eliminate some potentially long conversations over the phone with new customers.

Level, does not endorse the practice of online quoting and it is highly recommended that you choose a vendor, especially with injection molding, that has a US representation and someone that you can speak with over the phone or that you choose a seasoned design house such as Level to act on your behalf. Being able to discuss your idea or project with someone is a crucial step in your product design. Using a company like Level gives you the advantage of having a personal assistant and advocate for your project. We can help guide you through the conversations that you should be having with the injection mold company or, if preferred, we can be your complete representation with them.

During Phase 2, you will begin to layout the concept of you product or parts with the design team. They will help you to identify any special needs such as materials, specialized vendors in metal or plastics manufacturing, and finally what that magical budget should be. If you don’t have those answers by phase 2, you need to seriously consider moving to a new consultation such as Level, LLC.

The biggest step in phase 2, after the budget is presented for your product design, is actually starting the conceptualizing of your product. This will include initial renderings, rough layouts, and some dimensional considerations.

In our next post, we will discuss phase 3 of product design. In phase 3, a lot of progress is made towards developing your product, including some prototyping. Phase 3 is arguably, the most exciting phase prior to production!

Essential Phases of Product Design

Product design usually consists of 4 phases. Over the next few weeks we will discuss these phases and what key factors dictate the speed of each phase in relation to production. The first phase of any project is what we call the Concept phase.

In the concept phase, we decide on several key components of the project. Some of these components include:

1. What the product actually needs to be.

Determining what your product needs to be may be different that determining what your product should be. You need to understand the customer base for your product from the birth of the product design.

2. What does the product look like?

Understanding what your product should look like aesthetically and functinally is also a key component. Is it a big product that needs special packaging? Is it a fragile product that needs extra packaging consideration? Does the look of the product effect its’ marketability? Does your product look like the competitors product or is it unique to the industry? These are just a few example questions you should be asking yourself about the way your product looks.

3. What material is the product made from?

Understanding the material options for your product can be a daunting task. We typically recommend having a base idea for the material selection such as wood, plastic, metal, aluminum. Common plastic materials include ABS, Polycarbonate, Polypropylene, Nylon, HDPE, and even ASA. There are of course exotic variances of each of these materials as well as additives that can be combined to improve certain qualities. When customers work with Level, LLC, we make sure that the right material for your product is used. Cost, weight, structural integrity, and looks all play a factor in your material selection.

4. Where do we think we will have the product manufactured?

For several years now, there has been a lot of questioning from our clients on where their product can or should be made. There are certainly US injection mold makers out there. China still remains quite competitive in the injection mold business though. Level, LLC can help you to determine the best fit for manufacturing whether it is US sourced injection molding, China sourced injection molding, or just a neighboring Country such as Canada for injection molding.

5. Who can help me bring my product to reality?

This may be the biggest question of all for many. Choosing a great design firm or individual can be very difficult. There are many factors that need to be considered when you choose your vendor: Do they charge by the job or by the hour? Do they have good resources for manufacturing? Do they have good referrals?? How long have they been in business? Can you reach the owner and do they participate in the project?

For more information, contact us for a personal consultation.