You have an idea—and it’s a good one. Encouraged by the feedback of your initial designs, you dove into marketing research, which revealed a potential demand for this idea. The viability of selling your product, and its potential to be easily produced, means it’s time to bring your project from the dream world and into the realm of possibility. But where to start? What are the specific stages of the product development process that require a high degree of focus over the others?
The most important stages of product development apply to any product and encompass all aspects of the product creation process. Every manufacturing project must go through the same three core stages in order to move from thought to shelf. However, each of these brings along slightly different nuances that must be broken out in further detail to ensure that the product of your dreams will be a success in reality.
Stage 1: Design
The design stage is arguably the most important of the three stages of product development. It is during this stage that the foundation for what the product can do and deliver will be determined. It is also during this stage that any concept flaws will be brought to light, giving the project team the chance to change or end its further development path. There are a few aspects of the design process that will help you ensure that your product design is airtight:
✔ Design specifications and features are truly innovative and are different enough from similar products to stand apart and above.
✔ The product proves to be useful when CAD-based calculations and simulations enter the mix.
✔ Your product can retain pleasing aesthetics and overall usability within the desired dimensions without sacrificing operability.
Having a perfectly created digital rendering that revolves around these core design principles will accomplish more than pushing your product forward into the next stage. A concisely developed CAD design will save you valuable time in the testing phases of your project and will make getting the specifications of your product to the manufacturer simpler. This shortens the time between concept and production, which is an invaluable asset when trying to take the lead in the marketplace.
Prepare for Success
Designing a successful product starts with having qualified and capable designers in the CAD driver’s seat. Even if you have designers in-house, it is always smart to cover all of your bases by engaging a manufacturing consultant that can provide outside design input. They will likely have experience in projects similar to yours and will become an indispensable tool in your efforts to bring your product to market.
Stage 2: Test
Having a completed and proven design in your pocket allows you to shift your focus onto testing all of your product’s moving pieces. A digital representation of your product is a quick way to simulate many of its functions and to gain feedback on its aesthetics and usability. But digital models cannot demonstrate some real-world applications, nor can they replicate the tactile features of its buttons, switches, or the product itself.
Creating a physical prototype for testing purposes can be accomplished at a far lesser cost than you may have thought possible. 3D printing has changed how modern prototyping works, which means that you could have a physical, functioning representation of your vision in quick order. This allows your project team to put the product through its paces, and to send any defects back to the designers before it reaches the production line.
Prepare for Success
There are some cases in which digital simulations of a design just cannot be used as a substitute for a real, hands-on product experience. Partnering with a manufacturing consultant that can offer your project access to rapid prototyping is a game-changer. In addition to also bringing along design and manufacturing experience, they also bring rich collaboration and cutting-edge methods.
Stage 3: Produce
At some point in the design and testing process, the time will come to determine whether or not your product is ready to be manufactured. At this point of the project, you are likely very confident that the time has arrived. However, there are other considerations in play here besides issuing a “ready or not” status, and unless you take the time to get these aligned to your marketing and distribution plans, you may find yourself failing to meet expectations.
Determining the scale of manufacturing you desire for making your product depends on multiple variables. For example, if you are relatively unknown in your industry, or if your product has the potential to become outdated soon after launch, it would be wise to consider a short production run. Even if you feel that your product has longevity written all over it, taking your time and ramping up production can be the difference between nimble production and a full warehouse of widgets.
Prepare for Success
Taking your product from drawing board to production planning board may, unsurprisingly, come with some bumps in the road. Taking advantage of short-run manufacturing can help to alleviate any anxiety related to the production of your product, especially when you select a manufacturing partner that has built its foundation on helping projects like yours succeed in this way. A partner such as this can offer you cutting-edge short-run production tools that keep the manufacturing of your product slim and nimble.
Align the Stages of Product Development to Your Own Projects
It is not surprising that many projects fail to get their feet off the ground when they stray from these core principles. A great asset to any new product team is the ability to harness the eyes of an outside party that is experienced enough to see what you may be missing. It is also why seeking design and production advice from an experienced expert can have a beneficial impact on your project.
PRL is a full-service product development company that specializes in all aspects of production, from design to product fabrication and prototyping. Our experts are here to guide you through the full product development process, including the ideation, design, creation, and management of your product idea.