12 steps from product design to manufacturing
The process of bringing a new product to market can seem long and intimidating, and can be enough to discourage you from getting started. By breaking it down into 12 steps, you can see that it might be easier than you think to turn your great idea into an end product.
Step 1: Product concept
This is where you start to flesh out your basic idea. Think about what you want your product to be, how it would be used, and who would use it. Create sketches and notes of your initial concept.
Step 2: Research
There are two important things to look for at this point: first, demand. If your product fixes 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? Second, are there any products similar to yours already? If so, that doesn’t necessarily mean your idea won’t be a success, but how will you improve what’s already available?
Step 3: Product design development
At this point, you can start to develop your product design. There are a number of things you need to consider here:
- Get a clear idea of the function of your product
- Think about the strength and durability of your product
- How reliable is the product?
- What will the manufacturing costs be, and does that leave a profit margin without a price that will put buyers off?
- Think about the complexity of manufacturing, taking into account the number of parts from which each unit is made
- Is your product single use or long term?
- What materials are needed for production? This point may require further research, so allow it
Step 4: Research and development of the final design
Edit your designs as needed. Include dimensions and materials, develop designs to a high standard, and include all essential details. If your product is made up of multiple parts, try to keep them to a minimum to reduce manufacturing costs and speed up assembly.
Step 5: CAD
Computer Aided Design. This process uses 3D rendering software to produce a computer model of your final design. This can help reveal potential issues that weren’t evident during the design of the product itself. Take this opportunity to get back to the final design stage and fix the issues now.
Step 6: CAM
Computer aided manufacturing. This is where you will be able to see a physical prototype of your product, made by a computer guided system.
Step 7: Prototype testing
Make sure your tests are thorough and critical. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about any issues or flaws in your design, as this can only help your end product be the best it can be. If you need to, go back to step 3 and fix the issues.
Step 8: Manufacturing
If you’ve managed to test prototypes without revealing any issues you need to work on, it’s time to make your product. There may be other decisions to be made here, such as materials, lot numbers, and the manufacturer itself. Think about what keeps costs down while maintaining the quality you want, in order to maximize profits.
Step 9: Assembly
Important choices to make at this point may involve other materials, such as glue. Keep costs in mind, but remember that using inefficient materials can negatively affect your eventual sales. Don’t let the quality slip by cutting the corners now.
Step 10: Feedback and Testing
Now that your product has been manufactured and assembled, you can continue to rigorously test it. There are many ways to do this, from setting up discussion groups to asking family and friends, but be sure to take note of comments and allow free and honest criticism. Allowing further development to keep improving your product makes good sense.
Step 11: Product development
Consider reverting to developing your product if you need to make significant improvements or resolve unforeseen issues, although your manufacturing company may have reported any serious issues before. Don’t hesitate to take the time to properly prepare your product.
Step 12: Final product
Now that you’ve successfully taken your product from concept to polished end product, it’s time to turn your attention to marketing and the practicality of putting it in the hands of customers. The more you sell, the more you can afford to invest in making bigger batches, which means a bigger profit next time around!
To learn more, download our ultimate guide to the product development and design process.