Don’t miss out on the Idea to Prototype event taking place on 17 March, from 1pm to 2pm as part of the West Yorkshire Innovation Festival.
Product development can be an extensive process, whether you are creating a new product or seeking to improve an existing one. Having an idea is one thing, but how do you bring that idea to life?
The initial phase of product development will undoubtedly arise from an existing need or an identified problem that requires a solution. To kickstart a project, ideation or blue sky thinking should be used to consider all the unique ways a problem can be combated. Research to see if any new innovative technologies have emerged or evolved since the product in question was first designed, such as additive manufacture which is often a viable option when creating prototypes.
The next phase will weed out any of the unnecessary or unachievable ideas – those that are too outlandish, or inordinately expensive to achieve. Consider the manufacture of the product and the time it would take to get to market, as well as how complex the tooling or machining process will be. If value analysis of the product is found to benefit from the consolidation of parts, then additive manufacture might be a serious contender for development.
Depending on the direction the product has taken, which may include several different techniques, a CAD or Computer-Aided Design file will be able to measure certain specifications and tolerances that would be expected from the chosen manufacture technique/s. Depending on the industry in which the product or part is developed for, there may be certain validation processes to take into consideration too.
When the product has been verified and a prototype manufactured and tested successfully, further development can take place, or the product is finalised and ready for market. At the 3M BIC, this stage is the most important part of our consultancy process, because the products that are developed are entirely driven by the client’s requirements.
Additive manufacture is our chosen route to develop prototypes as it helps us to understand if the model fits the client’s requirements, as well as the variable tolerances of additive processes and the eventual manufacture technique. In general, most additive parts that are prototyped are still manufactured in conventional means, therefore, the application of the design must be tested rigorously when additively manufactured to stand up to its conventional counterparts.
At this phase, the company or client in question will begin to finalise their collateral to go with the product, however this will undoubtedly have been started from the point of inception and crafted throughout the process until the product is completed.
At this stage, the product is ready for launch and will be manufactured, assembled, packaged and sold to the end user in whichever way has been designed and with much consideration for design for assembly (DFA) and design for manufacture (DFM), in order to streamline the process. This is also where the logistics of production will be considered as opposed to the acquisition of materials which will have been taken into account in earlier phases or already be a part of the company’s roster.
Further development can take place at this stage on the product where a second version might have a refined function or an additional ability. There may be scope to secure more capital to invest in the development of the product based on the successful launch of version one. You may also find that some of the more expensive or experimental ideas that were considered in the ideation and refinement process can now be developed.
Find out more here about our advanced technologies at the 3M BIC.