What Is The Typical Engineering Design Process?
Engineering Design is an iterative process set to identify real problems and develop and improve possible solutions. The strategy revolves around tools and unique thinking methods to reveal your situation and solutions. At Denham Products, our Engineering Design Process defines the problem your product sets out to solve, planning, testing, and modeling prototypes.
Step 1: Identify Product Needs & Constraints
The typical Engineering Design Process at Denham Products goes like this. First, you bring your idea to us. To determine how challenging the project will be, we work collaboratively with you to choose the project’s scope. Part of understanding the project’s scope is engineering feasibility.
Engineering feasibility is the act of looking at your idea through an engineering lens. Next, we see if the concept is feasible according to the laws of physics. This step usually includes some back-of-the-napkin calculations and sketches.
The point here is to take a first-principles approach to solve and quantify your proposed solution. We also like to determine how hard your idea is to bring to market. This process allows us to say how many person-hours it will take us. Some typical questions that come up during this step are:
- What problems are you trying to solve?
- Who cares about this problem?
- How many people care about this problem?
- How much do they care about the problem?
- How do you want your idea to look and feel?
- What are your goals for this idea?
- How fast do you want this done?
Step 2: Research The Problem
Once we have identified your product needs & constraints, we undergo a period where we conduct an in-depth analysis of your market and see where people have previously succeeded and failed. Market Research is an essential step in Engineering Design as it dictates the rest of the process. We identify any roadblocks that may come up during the prototyping phase during market research.
Step 3: Imagine Possible Solutions
With a solid understanding of your product needs and constraints through our initial discovery call and the market research to back it up, we can start to create the solution. This initial work is usually a rough 3D model, but that is enough to bring your product in front of investors. In addition, our collaboration with you allows us to optimize your idea to attract your target audience by focusing on the unique pain points your customers are feeling.
Step 4: Plan by Selecting A Promising Solution
Selecting one solution to focus on allows us to help you carve out a specific target market and develop a product with a high possibility of success. Since the Engineering Design Process is iterative, focusing on a different solution to the problem you want your product to solve translates into a well-rounded project.
Before moving on to the next step, Denham Products ensures that you understand why your product is best suited for this particular market and why it is different from your competitors. This step usually includes pre-prototyping or pretotyping, a new word to describe the act of creating a solution as fast as we possibly can so that we can immediately start to test its traction with the target customer. Pretotyping gives us a fast, affordable way to test usability, customer interest, and problem solution-fit.
Step 5: Create A Prototype
Once you lock down the features you want from a pretotype, you can start prototyping. Denham Products takes the information collected from the previous steps and turns your idea into a prototype such as a 3D Print. The goal is to get something in your hands as fast as possible to empathize with the user, walk through the actions of using this prototype and note anything you want to do.
The Prototyping phase is our most collaborative and vital step in the process as it determines the sellability of your product. You can and should try to sell the prototype. Customers give much better feedback if they have a money interest in the outcome.
A solid prototype looks and functions like your desired finished product. Our prototypes are fully functional but may have workaround solutions to valuable features. For example, the prototype may be 3D printed instead of injection-molded, or it might use a Raspberry Pi instead of a custom circuit board.
Step 6: Test And Evaluate Your Prototype
Throughout the prototyping process, we advise that you reach out to manufacturers for design for manufacturing (DFM) input and determine the product’s sellability by placing it in front of your target market.
Based on the feedback that the prototype receives, it determines if the prototype is sellable, the functionality, and the overall cost of production. You can typically begin to sell your prototype to consumers and use the information to iterate your product further by leveraging this feedback.
Step 7: Improve and Redesign as Needed
Once we reach this step, we determine how to improve your product and redesign it if needed. Ideally, after we have redefined your prototype, we take the feedback from the presales and move you to the production stage.
Denham Products aids you by selecting suppliers and working through the supplier engineering steps. Production is a significant investment, so it is essential to have developed the business side along with the product side so that you can pay back the investment it takes to go to production. For production, you need a design freeze on the model, engineered drawings and ensure the part will work as expected for its lifetime.
We also ensure that the product design is conducive to the manufacturing technique that efficiently gets your product to market. For example, certain parts of your product are manufactured differently depending on the material and shape.
For example, a sheet metal part will be designed and manufactured differently than a plastic piece. Additionally, a plastic piece may be manufactured differently based on its body. For example, a plastic bottle is manufactured differently than a lego piece. Once we determine the manufacturing criteria, your manufacturer will require you to pay for tooling by the individual part – which is a significant investment.
Step 8: Sales and Marketing
One of the most fundamental parts behind every successful business is sales and marketing, as, without them, it is hard to push your idea to the world. You could have a great solution to a problem, but it has no benefits if no one knows it exists. As an innovator, you have to create a marketing and sales strategy that ensures that your units sell out before developing new products and iterating on your current project.
Now you have an idea, a solution to a problem; the next step is to determine if you want to start a business and capitalize on your newfound solution. Some questions to consider are:
- Who is your target audience, and what do they care about the most?
- Are you selling directly to consumers? Or are you selling to businesses?
- Is your target audience willing to spend money on your product?
- Are there any new markets that could benefit from your product?
It is vital to see what your ideal consumer likes and dislikes about your product so that you can use it whenever reiterating through the Engineering Design Process. We recommend tracking all feedback and tailoring future prototypes to the input. It is also ideal for developing a sales pitch and determining what is most attractive to your consumer.
Once you’ve nailed the product-market fit, it’s time to switch from production to sales and marketing. With branding and messaging that resonates with your ideal target audience. Keep exploring, iterating, and gathering feedback. You are now on the road to success!
After production, you have successfully created a product that the world values. You have taken a unique idea from your brain and pushed it out for others to benefit. To recap on how we help our clients at Denham Products, we usually do engineering feasibility, pretotyping, prototyping, & then production.
Start Your Engineering Design Process Today!
At Denham Products, we are working to become a platform where innovators can launch their products fast and affordably. If you have an idea, our goal is to bring it to life. So feel free to reach out.