An Introduction to
Product Design for Inventors

By Phil Staunton Icon

Product Design is an essential part of developing your idea into a viable, marketable product. It is the process of considering the function of the product, its appearance and how it is going to be made. The inventor can do a certain amount of this themselves but a professional product designer may well need to be employed.

Product design can also help to answer two important questions:

  1. Is my idea technically possible? A product designer can conduct an idea feasibility assessment to ensure that your product will work and is possible to manufacture. Some simple products may not require this stage but for others it is essential to ensure that time is not being wasted visualising or prototyping an idea that is not viable. For example, there is no point visualising a new travel kettle if there are no batteries that are powerful enough to boil a kettle in a compact size.

  2. Will anyone buy my idea? Who better to answer this question than the buyers for the main retailers, manufacturers or distributors from the market sector that is appropriate for your product? These are people who deal in the right market and they know it best. In order to present your idea effectively to these industry experts, it would be prudent to properly design and professional present your idea. A good product designer takes a 'back of an envelope sketch' and turns it into a thought through, developed concept that will impress and help gain useful feedback from industry.

    (It is worth noting that you need to protect your idea before presenting to industry. Always protect your Intellectual Property first. Seek advice from a Chartered Patent Attorney.)

Design Routes

  1. Engineering Design for Prototyping - if a prototype is going to be required for your project, make sure your designer will complete a computer aided design stage which will result in a 3D model of your idea. This can then be confirmed by you prior to producing the prototype. This level of design development is essential if you are planning on self-manufacturing your idea but is not always required if you are planning on selling your idea to a company.

  2. Product Visualisation - the designer will create a stunning product presentation that quickly conveys all the benefits and key features of your idea. It can be sent to companies or investors to enable them to gain a complete understanding of your idea very quickly, often without the requirement for an initial face to face presentation.

The Cost of Product Design - The price of product design varies hugely. It is likely to cost upwards of £800 depending on the complication of the product and detail of the presentation. A complex product developed by a top design consultancy could cover over £10,000.

In conclusion, product design is an essential part of developing your idea and can help assess the concepts viability. There are different options with concept design and it is important to know exactly what you are paying for. Before choosing a product designer always request references; check out their previous work; ensure they are designing your idea to be manufactured and finally make sure they understand Intellectual Property, if your idea needs protecting.

Phil Staunton is Managing Director of D2M Innovation Ltd. D2M has a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs design, protect, develop and sell their ideas.

Check out the D2M website for further information on product design for inventors, creating a prototype or for a detailed description of the patent process.

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