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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ellis

From Concept to Production.

Feature from New Design Magazine

Design 4 Plastics are as passionate now about product development as we were when the company was founded in 1979, and embrace each new project as a challenge to create original and better designs that look good, work well and make money for our clients.

Most successful products are born when someone identifies a real need and its down to us to satisfy that need through research, experimentation, innovative thought and an understanding of the manufacturing processes. Our team possess a broad wealth of experience of designing components and assemblies for most of the plastics and metals manufacturing processes and embrace new advances in these.

We believe that if you can define a problem, you can solve it. The first stage of any project is to immerse ourselves in the subject to see what’s out there already and identify the problems that exist. This creates a refined brief that might include issues the client has not considered and offers the opportunity to add innovative features that make their product stand out. We tackle all projects in stages which are flexible so the client is involved throughout.

Stage 1 will offer alternative concepts and could include sketches, physical sketch models to test ideas and basic 3D CAD to help visualise them. This results in a comprehensive report so that we can agree which concepts to take forward.

Stage 2 is to develop those concepts. We create detailed CAD assemblies that will be suitable for the production of rapid prototypes and from which cost estimates for production tools and components can be obtained.

Stage 3 provides fully functional prototypes for testing. This usually involves rapid prototyping processes such as SLS, SLA or FDM which replicate and prove the CAD but we also have a workshop if more traditional processes such as fabrication, vacuum forming or machining would be more appropriate. We do produce prototypes to presentation standard.

Stage 4 is there to develop the product in the light of testing the functional prototypes and will refine the CAD assembly for further iterations of the prototype and eventually be issued to the toolmakers for production.

Patents often play a big part in what we do. We are not qualified to offer professional advice in this regard but our considerable experience of both avoiding existing IP and offering IP opportunities to our clients has been a valuable asset.

Washtower is a standalone bidet that requires no installation. There’s no doubt that cleaning the nether regions with water rather than just toilet paper is most hygienic but traditional bidets require plumbing in, which can be costly to retro-fit. The Washtower uses water at a temperature you prefer and the flexible hose allows you to direct it precisely where it’s needed. There’s no electricity involved either so it’s safe and completely portable. The patented mechanism uses a hand pump to charge the tower and delivers the water at a constant pressure under full control of the user.

Encore is an innovative toilet cistern that uses condensate water from air conditioning systems to provide flushing water for use in bathrooms and restrooms. The challenge was how to store a large volume of water but only deliver a smaller fixed amount when the toilet is flushed. Through a process of experimentation and lateral thinking we developed this patented solution that incorporates two separate chambers. When the toilet is flushed, the lower chamber is emptied and then refilled with condensate from the upper chamber. The amount of water used in each flush is adjustable so that it can meet different international standards.

Encore is due to be launched this year and has already been shortlisted for various awards for its ecological credentials.

We worked closely with GoKart to update their powered golf trolley to address customer feedback and technical advances.

The new design incorporates a new drive mechanism, improved ergonomics and the ability to fold up with the Lithium battery in place.

We used as much of the existing tooling as possible whilst offering a substantial facelift and manufacturing benefits.

We produced working prototypes using SLS rapid prototyped parts, existing components and T1 moulding samples.

We have been working with MAGLOC to develop a metal version of their magnetic dog lead attachment system for use with large dogs and horses. The original, for smaller dogs, was a successful applicant on Dragon’s Den


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