When you’ve had a great idea for a product, you might assume that getting it made up, marketed and shipped will be fairly straightforward. Alas, nothing in life is simple and it takes a bit more than a great idea for a product to work. That said, if you are determined and willing to put a bit of extra effort into your idea, you can do some pretty cool things.
Manufacturing a product is never quite as easy as it sounds. You will need to make sure that before your product hits the shelves, every single unit is identical, functional and actually worth your while to make. There’s no point in going into business with a great idea only to make a loss!
And so, while going from idea to shelf might sound simple in principle, here are a few steps in the manufacturing process you must remember.
#1 Take Your Time Developing Prototypes
Most products start as rough drawings on the back of an envelope (or something similar!) and then gradually become a little more refined. The same process happens during the manufacturing stage of your product. You will need to test different ideas and solutions with each new prototype, refining your solution until it is as close to perfect as possible.
During this time, you should also consider the various types of inspection in quality control. This process won’t end with your prototype – every manufacturer should check each batch anyway – but at this stage, quality control inspections could bring a wide variety of potential problems to your attention nice and early.
#2 Consider Different Materials
The right material is everything in product design and while you might have an idea of what you want, there are a lot of different options available. The material you choose will need to fulfill a range of requirements. Not only will it need to be suitable for the manufacture but it should also be cost-effective. You may also wish to consider the potential environmental impact of the material you choose.
Quite often, the material you choose will have to balance weight, durability, and ease of manufacturing as well as other considerations such as aesthetic and availability. For example, plastic is a popular material because it is durable, lightweight and is easy to manipulate for different aesthetic finishes.
#3 … And Production Methods
Manufacturing is an intensive process that often takes far more resources than you would imagine. Green manufacturing methods tend to limit the amount of CO2 emissions and water consumption but overall energy consumption should also be considered.
But as a product designer, you won’t just be thinking about the planet. You should also make sure that your design is as easy as possible for manufacturers. This might mean that your product is manufactured in a single factory but it could mean that different parts are made in different factories and then assembled.
However you choose to manufacture your product, you should always do plenty of research first. The more you understand about the process, the better the value for money you will get and the more refined your product will become.
What steps in manufacturing are you dealing with?