Ideas are rarely problems for creative people or those with an entrepreneurial mindset. They may have hundreds of bursts of inspiration a day that could be the next million-dollar product. The stage where most people get stuck is the transition from concept to production.
Luckily, time-tested phases of production are there to help guide creators through fleshing out their ideas to developing manufacturing plans. By following the successes of those who came before them, they can truly bring their concept to life while controlling expenses.
Steps For Concept To Production in Product Development
The steps from concept to production are surprisingly similar regardless of industry. It starts with thoroughly outlining the idea to test its viability and then moving on to prototyping to develop the product’s function. It’s broken down to six primary phases:
1. Concept research
All concepts need to be carefully considered in the early stages to see how they will stand up to solutions already on the market. During this stage, creators should try as much as possible to fully flesh out their idea to determine if they’ve come up with a genuinely novel concept, or an improvement on an old one. They’ll need to ask:
- What problem does this product solve?
- What are the current solutions already available?
- Does it fall into a category that may require specific regulatory consideration, like medical device development?
- What materials will be required?
- Is there anyone else working on a similar idea in the market? If so, how far have they gotten?
- What underlying process will be needed to manufacture the product, for example, will skilled laborers be required, or is it a design that a relative layperson can put together with little training?
Answering these questions will give the creator a good idea early on of how expensive their product will be to manufacture and if the design itself is a viable one. It’s not necessary to have highly detailed answers to every single one of these questions. Just a general idea is enough to move to the next stage.
2. Market review
While having a solid concept in place is a good start, it’s not enough to move onto actual creation until gauging demand. This process may involve surveying the public or seeking out experts to set up focus groups. Here, the creator can get a good idea of their potential user pool. This is also valuable information for bringing to potential investors, as a product that has a high level of interest is sure to gain funding.
At the prototyping stage, the creator is finally ready to work with an engineer to create a rough, working model of their products. While demand and theoretical use are provable in the other steps, this phase establishes actual physical functionality.
Prototyping can also act as the revision stage to cut down on costs and simplify production. That may include looking at 3D printing, CNC machining, and other production processes that allow creators to reduce the need for labor and gain a perfect design.
4. Testing and revisions
Issues discovered in this stage require resolution, whether there are problems with the function, material sourcing, or overall cosmetic look of the product. A prototype can go through multiple revisions before it’s ready to act as the model for mass production.
Here, the creator will establish a series of steps and processes for the actual creation of products for the mass market. They will work out relationships with suppliers for raw materials and develop retail relationships to deliver the products to the masses.
In a contract manufacturing situation, this is a relatively quick phase. When trying to manufacture a product in-house, this is a step that can take years as the creator works to get all the machinery and factory floor space needed for their process.
6. Design for manufacturing
Design for manufacturing should touch all steps of the process because it’s about creating a product with a plan for mass production in the future. Without a design for manufacturing focus, creators may develop a product that’s too cumbersome or challenging to replicate in any meaningful way. By thinking about manufacturing at all stages, creators can overcome this issue with mindful proactivity.
Choosing a Partner to Streamline Production
It’s very easy to get intimidated by all the various phases required to go from concept to production. For most first time creators, it’s not a process that’s possible without some outside help. That is why partnerships are so essential.
When choosing a partner, it’s vital to seek out one who is capable of partnering on all stages of the project, whether the creator is just coming up with an idea, or whether they have a working prototype. This way, they can gain the guidance they need through all parts of the process. It’s essential to carefully vet these partners, as some may say they offer an all-in-one service. Still, they may not have access to the technology or workforce needed to deliver that robust experience.
A smooth transition from concept to production is possible if the creator moves through the steps carefully and designs with manufacturing in mind. A contract manufacturing partner is an ideal ally to have, as they’re likely familiar with everything needed to take a product to market. By working with the right people and following time-tested phases of production, creators stand a much better chance of getting their idea in the hands of consumers.
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.