02. Product Development

After we have an understanding of where your product fits in the market and what its competitive advantage is, we can start developing the product. Bringing it from an idea to a fully functional prototype that can be used for testing and demonstration purposes. We follow the following steps to ensure an efficient and effective product design and engineering process from start to finish. 

Concept Development

Brainstorm ideas and start to sketch them out to create an outline of product form and functionality. This process sometimes takes a lot of thinking, sketching, crumpling up paper, and re-drawing until we have one or two “ahah!” moments where we begin to reveal the unique value of the product.

Industrial Design

Product development without industrial design is like building a structure without an architect. The building will be structurally sound, but it will probably lack the kind of well thought-out design elements that make people want to interact with it. The same goes for products. If something looks too blocky, over-engineered, or complicated customers won’t be excited to use it and share it. Of course it has to function well, and that’s the engineering part, but your product should also be memorable, and that’s where industrial design comes in. Some engineering firms don’t really do industrial design and you’ll have to work with a separate industrial designer first, and then the engineering firm will have to re-do some of their work to make a product functional and ready for manufacturing. At Stoke Ventures, we incorporate industrial design into every product we design, right from the beginning. That allows us to efficiently work through the design process, saving you time and money, and delivering a product to you that is more memorable to your customers. Make it functional, useful and memorable!

3D CAD and Mechanical Design

Flesh out concepts with 3D CAD models that define parts and assemblies. This is where we begin to apply Mechanical Design and Engineering to create parts and assemblies that are designed to be ergonomic, functional, efficient to manufacture, and easy to assemble. The Mechanical Design process allows us to work through design challenges and ensure that each part and assembly is robust. The desired product functionality will translate to design features, and we’ll be able to get an idea of how these features realistically work with each other. There is always some level of compromise with all the variables of product design, including cost, but we work hard to maximize the market value of every product we design by  implementing highly functional, cost effective features, and employ good mechanical design practice.

Design For Manufacturing
3D CAD Design - Product Designing

DFM (Design For Manufacturing)

A part that cannot be manufactured has no value. When working through the design process it’s critical to keep in mind manufacturing to make sure parts can be made, and as cost effectively as possible. A small design inefficiency can cost thousands of dollars in unnecessary production costs. Things to consider here are undercuts, drafting and surface textures for injection and cast urethane molding, feature complexity for machined and routed parts, and bend processing for sheet metal parts. Material is also a critical factor that always needs to be considered from the beginning. What environment will the product be used in, will it be exposed to UV or chemicals, how many components will be structural, will parts be cycled and be subject to fatigue, etc? 

Assembly Fit

Parts need to be easily assembled either by the manufacturer, the consumer, or both. Assembly and fit can be tested virtually in the design process to predict the assembly process and try to avoid any complications. Ultimately, the best test is to assemble prototype parts to fully identify inefficiencies and ensure parts fit together properly, and with intended function. Ensuring parts can be assembled easily and fit together predictably over a large volume production run is very important to reduce component reject rates.

Mechanical Design of CatchALure Fishing Lure Retriever

FEA (Finite Element Analysis)

Structural analysis to ensure parts and assemblies meet certain functional requirements will be performed as necessary. With the finite element analysis process we’re able to simulate product use cases that put particular components or assemblies under structural loading. These conditions include snap-fit features, living hinge features, impulse (shock) loading, and product drop. The design will be adjusted to allow FEA testing to pass. Parts and assemblies can be under-designed in which case we need to add structural features/material, or they can be over-designed in which case we can reduce features/material and often times reduce weight and manufacturing cost.

Prototyping

  • 3D Printing (Metal and Plastic) – Not all printers are created equal!

    • Production Time – Hours/Days​

    • Dimensional Accuracy – Poor to Good (Depending on the print process, resolution, and quality of the printer)

    • No Tooling Cost / High Part Cost

  • Cast Urethane (Plastic)

    • Production Time – Days/Weeks​

    • Dimensional Accuracy – Excellent

    • Medium Tooling Cost / Medium Part Cost

  • Machining / CNC Routing

    • Production Time – Days/Weeks​

    • Dimensional Accuracy – Excellent

    • Low Tooling Cost / Med-High Part Cost

  • Sheet Metal / Forming

    • Production Time – Days/Weeks​

    • Dimensional Accuracy – Good-Excellent

    • Low Tooling Cost / Med-High Part Cost

Prototype, Test, and Iterate Design As Necessary

This is what can take up most of the development time. Despite best efforts for every project, nothing comes out perfectly on the first design/prototype iteration… ever. Things don’t fit, function, or even look as expected after the first prototype, so there are always several iterations of design and prototyping before you have your final design that can be used for production manufacturing. Even then there are sometimes slight adjustments that need to be made for a new production manufacturing project. Once tooling has been created, and the design is locked in, manufacturing gets very efficient and it’s usually something you don’t have to worry a lot about from that point on. At Stoke Ventures we include multiple design/prototype iterations into one fixed cost so you know what you’re paying for development, and we make sure you’re happy with the final design.

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