Your Questions Answered
1. Starting Point
Many first time inventors ask us whether we think they have had a ‘good idea’. Just because something doesn’t exist yet, it doesn’t make it a good idea. A good idea (commercially) is one that can offer benefits or solve problems for a sufficient number of target customers at an acceptable price to justify the cost of bringing the new product to market. In other words, it has the potential to offer a good return on investment.
At 4D Products, we have developed research techniques that looks to uncover what customers want in any given product sector. Armed with that knowledge, it is more likely that a successful product can be developed – Understanding your target market is crucial! Presenting a high quality visual or prototype to a sample group of your target market is a very powerful way of evaluating the potential of your new idea. We can help you to get to this milestone quickly and cost effectively.
Now here’s a question for you – Do you understand your target market?
Successful businesses understand exactly who their target market is, and what the target market wants or needs. This knowledge is very important. If you have any doubts about this, we would advise you to focus on gaining an in depth knowledge of your target market, what drives their decision making processes when choosing new products? We can help by conducting focused research into your target market and extracting useful insights which can be applied during the development of your new product.
What will happen during our initial consultation?
During your initial free consultation, we will discuss your product idea in sufficient depth to allow us to decide whether 4D Products are a good fit for your project. If we are, we will then go away and create a written proposal that details exactly how we can help, what it will cost, and how long it will take.We will have signed a non disclosure agreement first, so you know your ideas are protected.
How do you engage with your clients?
We have two methods of engagement. Either on a fixed price stage by stage basis, or hourly paid. In order to submit fixed costs, we need to have a fairly detailed design brief and specification. Some businesses prefer this, and some prefer a flexible, fluid arrangement where the design project can evolve and change direction without the need for re quoting. We can advise which we think is the best approach for you at the initial consultation.
What are the typical steps in a design project?
As a business, 4D Products supports the product design process from pre design research activity, up to sign off of manufactured products when they are in full production. You don’t need to undertake every service we offer, we are happy to support some or all of this process. Especially on fixed price work, we would break the project down into logical stages, with pre agreed deliverables, costs, and timescales.
We follow proven product development systems that can be summarised broadly as a process of;
- Engineering for Manufacture
- Supporting Manufacture
We have a wide range of skills in house, including user and product research, idea generation, industrial design, 3D CAD, Mechanical engineering, prototyping, supply chain liaison, photo realistic rendering, product animations.
Are you a good fit for my project?
4D Products is a product design consultancy consisting of a group of highly skilled designers and engineers. We have experience in a vast range of development projects and industry sectors. During our initial discussions we will either highlight why we are a great choice to be appointed as your design partner, or advise you that we aren’t the best option on this occasion. We only want to work on projects where we know we can deliver a great end result for our customer.
Getting a new product from initial idea through to manufactured item for sale on a retailers shelf requires a variety of skill sets and an appropriate level of investment. ‘Design’ is one part (an important one!) of the whole process. The cost is usually linked to how complex a product is, as more complexity = more time to complete.
As every design project we work on is unique, we can only give you a written proposal with costs and timescales once we have discussed your requirements at our initial consultation. The following costs need to be considered before the product is ‘sales ready’;
- Design costs – Development of the idea, into manufacture ready data.
- Prototype costs – Testing and optimising of the design at key stages.
- Regulatory Approval and testing costs – Making sure your product is safe and legal.
- Manufacturing costs – Investing in tooling and an initial production run.
- Marketing costs – Creating a brand and sales collateral.
- Intellectual Property Costs – Protecting your unique ideas in the most appropriate ways.
Get in touch today to discuss your written proposal.
Our clients who are established businesses tend to fund new product development themselves, so they don’t ask us this question.
Start up businesses and private inventors often do, so here are a few options to consider;
Do it in stages – By working with 4D Products you can get started with the first stage or two, and then seek further investment when you have our high quality design work to present to investors.
UK Government – The UK Government offers grant funding to certain industries which it sees as important to the growth of the UK economy. Latest information can be found at Innovate UKs website – Innovate UK
Crowd Funding – There has been an explosion of interest in Crowd Funding ni the last 5 years or so. The essence of the idea is that you create a marketing pitch to your potential customers, and ask them to pre order your product before it has been manufactured. Usually at a discounted price to encourage people to buy. There are now a variety of crowdfunding websites operating, so it is worth doing some research to find out which is the best fit for you. Some of the big names include – Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Seeders.
Local grants – There are often smaller grants available at local, regional level. It is worth visiting your local authorities website to see if anything is available. Criteria and type of grant are always changing, so you need to check what is current in the area that you or your business is based.
In the commercial world, Intellectual Property (IP) plays a very important role. If you are investing time and money in new product development, you need to protect anything that is unique as it adds value to your business.
IP protection is an industry in its own right, but we have provided a summary of the basics you need to know when considering product development.
Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) – A document 2 or more interested parties sign to record that they will not disclose any information discussed. It is good practice to get an NDA with everyone involved in your development project. 4D Products are happy to sign an NDA with our clients. We can provide a template document if you need one.
Patent – Used to protect how a product works.
PCT – The method used to roll your existing patent out from the UK into other regions.
Design Registration – Applied for rights that to protect how your product looks, a more official approach than relying on automatic design rights.
Design Rights – Automatic rights that protect how your product looks.
Copyright – Automatically assigned, used to protect written work and images.
Trademarking – Used to protect brand names and logos.
Patent Attorney – A qualified expert who specialises in the field of Intellectual Property.
For more detailed information, visit the Intellectual Property section of the UK Government website.
A strong brand
If you have a great product with a well crafted brand, that is protection in itself, as consumers will seek out your specific brand, not your competitors. Example – “I’m off to by a new Dyson”
When should an idea be protected?
Sometimes we are approached by clients who already have a patent. This is fine if the patent protects ideas that can be used to create a great product. It can be a problem if the design team envisages a better product or solution that isn’t covered by the existing patent.
With that in mind, we would advise our clients to do some initial design work with us to explore the idea and generate innovative ideas for how the new product can be best designed. The best elements can then be protected and used. As we work under non disclosure agreements, you can be safe in the knowledge your ideas and ours will be kept strictly confidential.
Our mission is to give our clients a product that is very easy to sell, as it is very well designed and very much in line with what your customers want.
We do not offer marketing or sales services, our customers sell their own products.