Commercializing an Idea- Mechanical Design Services

9 Steps for Startups and Emerging Businesses

Established businesses know the resources and investments needed to bring an idea to the market. However, this mechanical design services process may be uncharted territory for startups and emerging companies. Drawing from our experience aiding both large and small enterprises in developing impactful new products and equipment, we’ve honed an approach that mitigates development risks and enhances the likelihood of commercial success, even for smaller firms.

If you’re a startup or emerging business seeking guidance on where to start, here’s a comprehensive overview of the steps required to design and engineer a product, from pre-concept to manufacturing.

1. Identify the Gap:

In an ideal scenario, a business identifies a gap in the market or a pressing market need. Simultaneously, there should be confidence that the company can fill that gap with a product the market is willing to pay for. Recognizing this gap serves as the initial step in the commercialization of an idea.

2. Product Specification:

Concurrently, the development of a product specification kicks off. This living document captures design constraints and the potential product’s feature set. It may also include a use case, mainly if software or firmware is part of the development. The specification guides later development, helping the team stay on track and identify deviations or unnecessary features.

3. Conceptualization:

Once the market need is identified and the specification is in place, the development team jump into creating concepts that address the need. A creative, unconstrained approach is favored at this stage, as fresh perspectives can uncover design ideologies that internal teams might overlook.

4. Preliminary Design:

The preliminary design and engineering phase uses the concepts and specifications as a foundation. Initial development focuses on high-risk elements crucial to the product’s success. This may result in a rudimentary lab prototype (Level 1), 3D CAD models, and preliminary software used for validation testing.

5. Design Iteration:

Based on findings from the preliminary phase, the design undergoes iteration. Rapid development cycles are applied to prototype different design variations quickly. This phase may involve numerous design/prototype iterations—ranging from ten to one hundred—to fine-tune various aspects of the product.

6. Design Optimization:

Following rapid cycles, the design is optimized for production. This includes refining fit and finish, ensuring durability, and identifying cost-effective production methods. Manufacturer engagement becomes crucial in this phase to ensure compatibility with their constraints and equipment.

7. Finalization and Product Start:

The next step involves investing in production tooling. While the product’s design is paused, the final firmware/software iteration may still occur. Initial production units are manufactured, and the development team reviews them.

8. Regulatory Work:

Regulatory testing can commence as it typically requires actual production units. Standards and test requirements identified in the product specification guide this phase. Adjustments may be necessary based on testing outcomes.

9. Post-launch Support:

After product launch, businesses must provide user support, address warranty issues, and plan for improvements. This phase may include ongoing software updates, particularly for products linked to iOS or Android apps.

Final Thoughts

Commercializing an idea comes with costs, influenced by variables such as the intended feature set, the number of mechanical design services, and the development of firmware and software. Most businesses investing in IoT or electronics product development may spend six figures on engineering and prototyping. Startups often focus on achieving a Level 2 prototype as a demonstration tool for potential investors.

In conclusion, while the above process emphasizes the design and engineering aspects of product development, the contributions of marketing, sales, and finance teams are vital. Their ongoing input ensures that the investment in development aligns with broader business goals.

If you found this guide helpful and require assistance in developing your new product, equipment, or industrial system, our team of experienced designers and engineers is ready to lend support.

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