HOW WE WORK AT DESIGN 4
We approach new product development in a series of stages focused at addressing the specific demands of your project. We discuss your requirements in detail to gain a clear understanding of who the product is for, what need it fulfills and what you want it to do for you.
Following our initial consultation we propose the Design Brief. This document clearly defines the project objectives, what opportunities exist and what constraints need to be considered.
We then offer our development programme detailing the different stages we believe most appropriately address the Design Brief. This sets out the budget costs, timescales and terms of business.
Depending on the complexity of your project and the level of involvement you require, your development with Design 4 Plastics will typically progress through some or all of these project stages.
Creating a useful and desirable new product is all about solving problems and satisfying user needs. Understanding these through careful observation and first-hand experience forms the vital first step in our process.
We investigate competitor’s products, what features they offer and how they are used and try to identify opportunities for improvements or better approaches.
We research which technologies, materials and manufacturing processes are presently used or could be suitable, what relevant patents or other protections exist and which standards apply. The findings from this activity are presented in a comprehensive report that informs the next stage
2. CONCEPT GENERATION
Now we begin to get creative. Considering the research gathered and the objectives of the Design Brief we apply creative lateral thinking to come up with alternative approaches to the design challenges.
Selecting the most promising ideas we work through a series of Sketch Concepts exploring options for how your product could look, feel, work, be used, be manufactured and assembled.
Our pursuit of original and innovative ideas often results in patentable features for your product. This stage is presented in a report that establishes the design direction for the next development phase.
3. 3D CAD LAYOUT
Once the preferred concepts are chosen it’s time to get into more detail. Using the latest Pro/ENGINEER 3D CAD modelling tools we create the first full size virtual model of your product laying out the critical design parameters.
This arranges the key internal parts, establishes important component interfaces and sets out the extents of travel of any moving elements.
Working in 3D the design now begins to take real shape allowing continuous assessment and fine tuning of form and proportion as well as technical elements.
At the end of this stage the design is ready to create Functional Test Prototypes
4. TEST PROTOTYPES
By this stage we are ready to test whether the design theory works. We create Functional Test Prototypes to check out concept principles and verify that the design is on the right track before proceeding to full detail.
Using our in-house workshop facilities we can build test rigs and mock-ups in plastics, block materials, wood and metals.
If appropriate we may employ rapid prototyping techniques to produce parts directly from the Initial 3D CAD models to check out more complex geometries. The knowledge gained from testing these prototypes critically informs the next development stage.
5. 3D CAD DEVELOPMENT
Next we develop the design to a fully defined solution. Learning from the Functional Test Prototypes we adjust where necessary any of the design features to improve the product function, performance or appearance.
We refine the Pro/ENGINEER 3D CAD models adding full production level detail to each feature, component and assembly considering functional requirements and manufacturing practicalities to realise the best execution.
The 3D CAD environment allows us to evaluate the fits and clearances of components in assemblies, simulate the motion of mechanisms and determine the material weights of each of the parts.
At the conclusion of this stage your product is ready to create Photo Realistic Renderings, Working Presentation Prototypes and obtain provisional
6. PHOTOREALISTIC RENDERS
Using our advanced computer visualisation tools we create photo realistic renderings placing your product in its intended environment to achieve a heightened level of realism clearly communicating how it will look or be used.
Animated sequences demonstrating moving parts or user interactions further bring your product to life.
These provide an ideal resource for your marketing activities prior to the availability of presentation prototypes or production samples.
7. PRESENTATION PROTOTYPES
Working Presentation Prototypes are the best way to demonstrate your product and prove its effectiveness before going into production.
Whether you need a one-off prototype to assess fit and function or a number of highly finished cosmetic models for market trials we can provide the ideal solution.
We use rapid prototyping techniques that accurately replicate every detail of the 3D CAD model to verify that each of the design elements look and perform as intended.
Often for larger scale products we apply our traditional model making skills to create fully finished plastic vacuum formed and fabricated prototypes in our workshops.
We undertake extensive prototype testing to identify any improvements that can be made or highlight any unforeseen issues to be resolved before committing to tooling.
This essential stage reduces the risk of unwelcome surprises further down the path to production.
8. FINAL DETAIL
At this stage any further design modifications identified from testing the Working Presentation Prototypes are implemented and the design is frozen.
We produce a complete package of manufacturing information including 3D data files, material specifications, bills of materials, assembly drawings and instructions, tooling layouts and configurations and fully dimensioned and toleranced production drawings where necessary.
We can further assist providing illustrations for user manuals and development of graphics for on-product labels or print.
We also offer support for IP protection preparing explanatory drawings and descriptions of inventions for your patent or registered design application.
At the conclusion of this stage your product is ready for production.
We can source, supply and manage production of your tooling, components, assemblies and finished products from our network of UK & international providers.
Many clients benefit from this service preferring a single point of contact for all their product supply requirements from single moulded components to complex assemblies involving multiple processes.
Our in-depth knowledge of your product means we are best placed to quickly react to any production, supply or quality issues that may arise, minimising potential disruption to your delivery schedule.
Our extensive experience of materials, manufacturing and assembly processes ensures that your investment in new product development with design 4 plastics delivers a great product on time and within budget.