One of the biggest obstacles aspiring inventors, entrepreneurs and even big corporations frequently come across, is the ability to create a vision that is an enhancement of an original product currently on the market, or at least making people see the same thing differently.
Developing a new product is rarely straightforward and no matter how many success stories you may come across, the journey can sometimes resemble a drive down a country road.
The guys over at Sabre Tattoo for example, asked us to design a new set of pen style tattoo machines, soon realising that due to the internal complexities meant having to completely internal mechanisms to make sure it functioned the way the person using it needed it to.
Shore Swim on the other hand wanted to design a multi-functional swimming aid for several stages of a child’s swimming journey, which meant a lot of research into weight metrics and faster than usual prototyping.
The 6 step process for new product development
So, as you can see from these stories, they don’t exactly lay out a concrete end to end plan for new product developments, but with the right blueprint, you can use this as a basis to take with you along the way when starting on a new project.
As with all typical stories, you need a beginning that starts with conceiving an idea, a middle to structure the stages of design and prototyping then ending with the product’s introduction to the market.
The grand concept, that light bulb moment!
It all starts here. Developing that new product needs a spark to ignite the fire. Countless entrepreneurs struggle even at this first hurdle, as they’re usually waiting for that “stroke of genius” to produce the perfect concept.
What people forget is that even though creating something new can innovative and fulfilling, the best ideas tend to come from sources that already exist. Research the market, ask questions, assess what can be adapted or transformed to make it better and you’ll have all the inspiration you need.
Don’t jump the gun, evaluate and validate
You’ve got your idea and you want to jump straight in and get it made. WORNG. You need to be sure this new product is something that people want, something people will pay for.
By surveying you target audience, looking into funding options, researching demand, competitors and considering the technical feasibility you’re able to screen your concept and whether it’s worth the time, money and effort.
You gotta sketch it out
Hopefully if you know your music, you get the above attempt at a pun using the band Caesars Palace as inspiration. If not, hopefully you’ll at least agree that we’ve reached the planning phase.
Depending on the complexity of the product, the development stage can get complicated, so it’s really important that you take the necessary amount of time to plan your approach before you build the prototype. But first you’ll need to visualise what your new product will look like and how it will function.
A great way to do this is with hand drawn sketches. Your sketched drawing needs to be as meticulous as possible, explaining certain features with labels. Use your illustration to catalogue the components, functions and (environmentally friendly) materials the new product will need to turn it into reality.
It’s also a good point to start thinking about any potential packaging, categories your invention falls into, and the price, as these will all effect the way you look to market to your audience.
“If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings.”
It’s time to start constructing that finished article, well, more like sample article, as this is what you’ll use to start production. Depending on what you’re doing, it’s more than likely you’ll need to find a qualified and expert 3rd party to develop this for you.
Highly experienced 3D CAD designers like 4D Products will utilise 3D rendering skills to create the most visual version of the potential outcome yet. This is because CAD software will enable designers to scrutinise mechanisms, shape and functionality via a virtual image, which is crucial to prototyping and manufacturing.
Don’t worry if you don’t get your finished product at the first attempt though, this phase of the process often involves several versions of your new product to experiment with. You’ll start excluding possibilities and make continuous improvements until your happy with the final model.
Test the water
You’ve settled on a final design. Now you need test it. Put it in situations that you expect it to be used by your intended audience. Show early versions to potential customers, start focus groups, surveys, anything to get quality feedback to potentially add any final modifications before you mass produce your product.
Costing, Commercialisation and launch
We’ve now entered the final leg of the journey. Spending time to determine the costs, protecting intellectual property and the marketing plan. It’s all well and good creating a new product, but you’ll also need to build a brand to launch.