Product Development: From Concept to Market Launch – Part 2
In the first part of this article, we looked at the product development process, taking an idea from that initial moment of inspiration, through the earliest planning stages, and right up to the creation of a highly detailed CAD plan.
In this second article, we’ll look at what’s involved in taking that plan, creating a prototype and then moving on to a full-scale market launch.
Creating a prototype
Once the design has been finalised on the basis of a detailed design brief the time has arrived to create an actual prototype. The prototype is a vital stage in the process of bringing an idea to market, as it represents the moment which the concepts are turned into a reality.
A 3D plan is undoubtedly useful, but manufacturing a prototype will take things a step further, enabling you to see exactly what the finished product should look like and how it will feel when handled by the end-user.
At this stage the prototype may be made from material other than that intended for the finished product. Many prototypes are made from wooden pieces, for example, and in recent years the versatility of 3D printing has made it easier than ever to create complex components which can then be assembled to create a prototype. At this stage the prototype should answer the questions:
- Does the product look as it was intended to look?
- Will it be able to perform the task it is meant to perform?
- Is it the right size and shape, i.e. is a ‘handheld’ device actually small enough to fit into a hand once assembled?
Once an initial prototype has been approved the next stage will involve building a functioning prototype.
This is clearly more complex, as the materials used will have to be those needed for the finished item, and functionality will play just as big a role as appearance. The functioning prototype may go through several iterations as it is tweaked and altered to meet the specifications set by the initial design.
At this stage other considerations will come into play:
- is it possible to scale-up manufacturing of the product?
- How can you keep costs low enough to make marketing it viable?
If the answer is no, changes to the design, manufacturing process or choice of materials could make all the difference. Creating a detailed prototype will make it easier to calculate the final manufacturing costs, as you’ll be able to take a finalised design for manufacturing (DFM) to a range of manufacturers asking for an idea of the costs. Alternatively, you may be able to manufacture the product yourself, or have separate components manufactured by third parties before assembling.
Product protection and Patents
Before manufacturing and marketing your product you need to ensure that it is fully protected. Register the product as a trademark and, if the technology being used is unique, contact the patent office for advice.
At the very least, keeping dated records of each stage of the product development will protect you in the event of any future claims of trademark breach, and registering the product will alert you to any other products with the same name. Legal protection will make it harder for others to copy the product using the same name, branding or identity.
Marketing and market launch
Before launching your product you need to think about marketing. The best product in the world will fail if not enough people get to hear about it. Use the research you’ve already done into target markets to determine the best means of marketing your product, whether that’s social media, a dedicated website or traditional methods like posters and flyers. Think about what will reach the people you need to reach, and the message you want to reach them with.
Working with Cambridge Design Technology
We can help you to take your product from design to marketplace. Not only are we experts in the fields of product design and development across a range of highly specialised sectors, we also partner with like-minded experts in field such as Intellectual Property and Marketing.
We offer a one stop shop, all the way from that fabled light bulb moment to your brainwave going on sale. Contact us today and we’ll talk about the ideas you’ve got.
**NB – the section on market research and establishing a USP was covered in the first article.