3 October 2018
Learning how to invent in 2018 is very exciting. This blog gives a broad overview for the options to get physical products to market. Your path will be slightly different but usually you will have some interaction with each section shown below. It can be a long and windy road but there are lots of resources and tools to make it easier.
You have a great idea. Checked Google and can’t find anything similar. Spoken to friends and family that think it is great. Now it’s time to check if there is a market. Validating an invention idea can be done in different ways but the best thing you can do is talk to as many potential customers as possible. Find out what they want and what they are looking for. Keep the conversation open and let them tell you the problems that need solving. During these conversations your invention idea will adjust and improve to become a product that solves a real problem for a real market.
Creating a Design Brief is the first step to bringing your idea to life. Bring together all the information for each different design and engineering aspect to get a full understanding for your product. Format and organise the information in a way that is easy to communicate to professional design agencies, as well as the people on your team. The InventPad Design Brief Creator helps with this.
Design & Engineering
Now that the design brief is complete you or a professional can start designing and engineering solutions to the problem. Using the design brief start by mind mapping a wide range of designs. Sketch these designs to get a better understanding of how it will work. As soon as you have designs that you are happy with, you should try to prototype quickly and regularly (more details on prototyping below). As you get further into the design and engineering – prototype loop you can then design and engineer your product in more detail. The aim now is to make a functional prototype ready for raising funding. At this point you may need to create a CAD (3D Model) of your product, source ‘off the shelf’ parts and use an electronics prototyping platform (Arduino, Raspberry Pi). Creating unique products means the complexity at this stage is different for everyone. There are lots of useful software, design agencies and maker-spaces that can help you find the right tools and resources to get your product made.
Regular prototyping should take place throughout all stages of the design process. Before prototyping make sure you have a clear aim that you want to achieve by producing this prototype. Then set up tests to get results/ feedback that help you to measure whether or not your prototype has reached its aim. This data can be used in the design and engineering stages to update and improve your product. There are various different ways to make a prototype. In the early stages prototypes can be as simple as using cardboard or using items found around the house. It is amazing at how much this can help improve your final product. You can then move to building something purely out of parts from your local hardware store. Once the product is developed further, parts can be 3D printed, machined or with electronics platforms.
Funding may be required at different stages of your design process and can help you create a truly innovative product by unlocking access to innovative tools, services, and manufacturers. The amount of funding needed at different stages can be calculated and a plan can be put together to raise this funding when the product is ready. Funding methods vary between projects and depend on the path the product is taking to market. Examples of these are crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo), Venture Capitalists (Bolt) and Hardware Accelerators (HAX, Brinc).
Design for Manufacture
With your prototype in hand and funding secured it is time to adjust your product for mass manufacture. Design for manufacture (DFM) and Design for Assembly (DFA) are methods that can be used to create a product that is easy, efficient and affordable to manufacture.
This involves you sourcing manufacturers who can make your product. You will need to find a quality manufacturer as you will be working with them very closely. In your costs make sure you leave plenty of money for regular visits to be close to your manufacturers during the start-up period.
Testing is needed throughout the design, its helps make sure the product is high quality, safe and legal to sell. Set up standard non-destructive testing methods for every product you create and more detailed testing for every X product. This will keep your product and manufactures to the highest of quality.
Now you have products coming off the assembly line and it is time to get them to your customers. Look for other potential avenues to sell your products from large distributors to smaller niche shops. Throughout this keep it easy for your customers to get in touch with you as they will have lots to say ready for Product 2.0. Happy Inventing!! The InventPad Design Brief Creator helps you take the best first step in bringing your idea to life, Sign Up now to get started. *We will regularly update this overview as new technology and opportunities arise. Collaborate with us to make this better and give advice to others in the Forum.