Before jumping into the product development process, discussing product development and why someone wants to pursue it is essential. Generally, a product is a solution to a problem. That problem could be personal to an individual, it could have a far-reaching impact, or the problem may affect an entire industry.
Regardless of how unique or broad the problem is, a product must solve a problem. It sounds obvious at first, but a common reason that ideas fail is that there isn’t a “need” for the product. For example, someone goes, “I am going to make a new coffee mug that is super cool.” Cool has value, and you might sell a few of them, but you’re not solving a problem, and without the need for your idea, the product is dead in the water.
The traditional approach to product development lacks discovering the “need.” It puts the cart before the horse. The traditional method goes something like this: An investor has a good idea; they value protecting the idea over discovering if it matters to people or industry.
The inventor keeps the idea under strict Non-Disclosure and hires an engineer (expensive) to develop the concept enough to get a patent (costly). Then once the patent is issued, the inventor hires the engineer again to create a finished product (expensive). Finally, the IP is protected, and the product is finished. The inventor took years to do this and thousands of dollars.
The launch date is fast approaching, and the inventor is desperately trying to get the word out about the new invention. Launch day arrives, and thousands of people, businesses, and other stakeholders see it, yet no one buys it. The inventor starts asking why. They discovered that some things on the product didn’t resonate with the market they were selling in.
The inventor now has to change not only the engineering and design of the idea, but they also need to change all the tools that they used to produce the product (costly), and even worse than that, the product will likely change in a way that the patent becomes less valuable. This scenario has played out repeatedly and is an old way of approaching product development.
The product development process goes from an idea to a product. A product is a solution to a problem. The traditional method is cumbersome, expensive, and ripe for innovation.
How We Cut Product Development Costs with our Process
Until recently, there hasn’t been much innovation in the product development space due to a lack of enabling technology. There also hasn’t been a mindset shift in this space. Instead of thinking of a product as a finished consumer good, it is thinking of a product as a sellable prototype developed from a pretotype.
Then you take the prototype and sell a small batch of units to customers. Whenever a customer rejects the sale, you ask why, which lets you know which product attributes to change to meet market demand rapidly; not having formal suppliers and product tooling saves thousands of dollars on product changes.
You can rapidly iterate without a significant financial impact. This is the difference between going from a dull unbalanced knife to a sharpened katana much faster and cheaper because you are using evidence-based testing to understand that weight and sharpness matter to the customer instead of guessing that they matter.
The enabling technologies that have facilitated this step-change in product development leveraged by Denham Products are Additive Manufacturing, Advanced Modeling Software, and a Globally Connected World. Each of these has dramatically reduced the time and effort needed to get a part into a customer’s hands. Denham Products has noticed these enabling technologies and adopted the pretotyping mindset to pass along significant savings to our customers.
Additive manufacturing, specifically 3D printing, went from producing low-quality fragile parts to a process that can create looks, feels, and works like physical parts. Traditional manufacturing methods include injection molding, sheet metal stamping, or milling. These usually take a long time to set up because numerous steps are involved before the part can be produced.
For example, with injection molding, a mold needs to be milled out of aluminum or steel, then the mold needs to be prepared by a mold maker to refine tolerances or add texture. Then these facilities normally run non-stop, so you have to wait for capacity to put the mold in the machine to make a few of your parts.
With a 3D printer, you upload the model and start printing. With additive manufacturing, you can now produce sellable parts. This is huge because the high cost to tool up a factory to produce a part is now eliminated with a much lower cost 3D printer. 3D printers also produce initial amounts much faster than traditional manufacturing.
With advancements in computers and software, a product design that would have taken a week with a traditional engineering drafting table now only takes a few hours on engineering software. Modeling the idea is the bread and butter of the product development process because the idea first comes to life!
This is also the phase that can reduce cost significantly down the line. In the model, you can simplify or eliminate parts. If you make an excellent engineered model, you will reduce the chance of the features not working once you make them in the physical world. Changes are very cheap at this phase.
Covid 19 impacted the world negatively, but it also kick-started some trends that will shape our future moving forward positively. One of these trends was that companies had to take everything online quickly during the pandemic. Every meeting, project, and social hour was online. This electrified the transition to a work from anywhere mindset. This means that the world became globally connected and efficient almost overnight.
You can have workers in the opposite timezone, which means you can work around the clock to deliver faster. Also, the supply chain was streamlined. As more people started shipping items all over, it became more accessible, faster, and cheaper to communicate with suppliers abroad and get parts from them.
Choose Denham Products, we’re excited to work with you!
At Denham Products, we pride ourselves on taking an idea and creating a working product that either solves your initial problem or allows you to build a business around it. We strive to put out quality products for anyone searching for an engineering arm, from individuals to big companies. We bring together talented individuals who share our vision of building tools that solve the problems of our lifetime. Our team loves the challenge: They want their next project to stand out from those created before them.
If you have an idea, our goal is to bring it to life. So reach out to us, and let’s start the process of turning your vision into a reality.