Steps For Successful Product Design
By Noah Heckathorne
Developing a product can seem like a daunting task but if you know the basic steps and phases required things will be much easier.
Product design can be broken into 7 steps that I will explain in this article.
- Problem Assessment
It is a good idea to write down what the problem is first. Don't write down the solution to the problem at this point, even if you know how to do so. You simply need to state what the problem is and nothing more. I have seen the development of new products become complicated and time consuming simply because the problem was never written down. A proper statement of the problem helps keep everyone on the same page and works to eliminate project creep.
- Design Specification
This is the step in which a solution to the previously defined problem begins to form. At this point a list of requirements of everything you can think of should be written down. You are not coming up with a solution just yet only setting the requirements necessary to create the product. Some examples of what should be on your list include, a retail price (how much are people whiling to pay for this), size of the object (does it need to fit into someone's hand or through a door or in a garage), how fast should it go, does it need to be water proof, what should it be made of, does it use batteries or plug into the wall. This list can go on and on but the important thing is that you list what is important to you. This list will help you and your designer in the next step.
- Idea Generation
Now you are getting somewhere, the problem has been defined and requirements have been set. At this point you should brainstorm and sketch out your ideas. Don't worry if the drawings are not pretty, you are only trying to see if the concepts could work or if there is an obvious flaw. If you are not mechanically inclined, you may want to find someone who specializes in product or industrial design to help. Many design companies have no problem meeting with you to discuss and sketch a few ideas before you will be under any obligation to sign a contract or pay anything. You will want to come up with one or two good ideas before moving to the next step.
- Concept Design
Once at least one good idea for the new product has been sketched you will want to have the design worked out in a little more detail. The designer will come up with a basic 3d design on a computer that is detailed enough to be sure the idea will work but not so detailed that it takes more than just a few hours to complete. This is the last step where an idea is either given the green light or trashed.
- Detailed Design
Now that a solid concept design has been created its time to get down to the details. In this phase the designer will create full detail 3d virtual models of all parts, work out design problems, create assembly and part drawings for every part, find suppliers for all purchased components and create 3d physical prototypes if necessary. This phase is complete when all problems have been solved and a full set of drawings have been delivered.
Testing is a very important part of product design and should not be overlooked. This step can be as simple as having a few people use the product for feed back or as complicated as sending it to a testing laboratory such as UL for a thorough testing by professionals. The level of testing will most likely be determined by requirements of any retail stores that will be selling the product. It is important that you have someone test the product that has not been involved in the design process even if it's a friend. Someone who has not been part of the design will give a less biased opinion plus you can watch for any difficulty they may have using the product.
The final step in the design process is manufacturing, in this step you or your designer will find suitable manufacturing facilities to create the product. You will need to come up with an agreement with the manufacturer on the terms of what they will be providing, the cost and when it will be delivered.
For more information on product and industrial design visit http://www.NDHdesign.com
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