12 Steps From Product Concept to Manufacturing

design engineersThe process of bringing a new product to market can seem long and daunting, and might be enough to put you off getting started. By breaking it down into 12 steps, you can see that it could be easier than you think to turn your great idea into a final product.

Step 1: Product Concept

This is where you begin to flesh out your basic idea. Think about what you want your product to be, what its use is, and who would use it. Create sketches and notes of your initial concept.

Step 2: Research

There are two important things to research at this stage: firstly, demand. If your product solves a problem, are a lot of people looking for a solution to that problem? Can you see a gap that is desperate to be filled? Secondly, are there products out there already that are similar to yours? If so, it doesn’t necessarily mean your idea won’t be a success, but how will you improve on what is already available?

Step 3: Product Design Development

At this stage, you can begin to develop your product design. There are a number of things you must consider here:

  • Have a firm idea of your product’s function
  • Think about how strong and long-lasting your product will be
  • How reliable is the product?
  • What will the manufacturing costs be, and does this allow room for profit without a price that will put buyers off?
  • Think about the complexity of manufacture, factoring in how many parts each unit is made from
  • Is your product single-use, or long lasting?
  • What are the materials needed for production? This point may require further research, so allow for this

Step 4: Research and development of the final design

Edit your designs as necessary. Include dimensions and materials, develop the designs to a high standard and include all vital details. If your product is comprised of multiple parts, try to keep these to a minimum to keep manufacturing costs down and speed up assembly.

Step 5: CAD

Computer-aided design. This process uses 3D rendering software in order to produce a computer model of your final design. This can help to reveal any potential issues that weren’t evident from the product design itself. Take this opportunity to return to the final design stage and deal with any problems now.

Step 6: CAM

Computer-aided manufacturing. This is where you get to see a physical prototype of your product, manufactured by a computer-guided system.

Step 7: Prototype Testing

Make sure your testing is thorough and critical. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about any problems or flaws with your design, as it can only help your end product be the best it possibly can. If you need to, go back to step 3 and work out the kinks.

Step 8: Manufacturing

If you made it through prototype testing without revealing any problems that need to be worked on, it’s time to manufacture your product. There may be some further decisions to make here, such as materials, batch numbers, and the manufacturer itself. Think about what keeps costs low while maintaining the quality you want, so that you can maximise profits.

Step 9: Assembly

Important choices to make at this stage may involve further materials, such as glue. Keep costs in mind, but remember that using ineffective materials may negatively affect your eventual sales. Don’t let the quality slip by cutting corners now.

Step 10: Feedback and Testing

Now your product has been manufactured and assembled, you can continue testing it rigorously. There are many ways to do this, from assembling focus groups to asking family and friends, but ensure you take note of feedback and allow free and honest criticism. Allowing for further development to continue improving your product is a sensible move.

Step 11: Product Development

Consider going back to your product development if you need to make important improvements or address any unforeseen issues, although your manufacturing company should have pointed out any serious problems before now. Don’t shy away from taking the time to get your product just right.

Step 12: Final Product

Now you have successfully taken your product from concept to a polished final product, it’s time to turn your attention to marketing, and the practical side of getting it into the hands of customers. The more you sell, the more you can afford to put into manufacturing larger batches, meaning a larger profit next time around!

To find out more download our ultimate guide to the product development and design process.

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