When you embark on your design project; get excited with the idea of your product sitting on the shelf at your local supermarket or DIY store.
But excitement needs to be tempered. The journey to getting your product on the retailers’ shelf is a long and, sometimes perilous one. We at Fripp would be the last people to discourage this enthusiasm as it forms the fundamental driving force behind the development of any product (we get excited everyday with ideas we generate); however it can be difficult to know the journey to take. This is where the value of an experienced product design company comes in; with the ability not only to see your end goal but to know how to get you there, avoiding the pit falls along the way.
Here at Fripp Design we take a staged approach to design where each section of development is set out to give you a clear path so that you know what to expect and when to expect it. This approach gives you peace of mind and allows you to do what you do best…. be excited!
The author of our blog is fortunate to be currently cruising on the Queen Mary 2. A member of their family has asked the question – “How do you go about designing something as big as this?” and it occurred that, 30 years ago, you’d never have built a boat as big as this; not because of the lack of finance, materials and engineering skills but for the lack of CAD.
As you look at the lines of the ship, are staggered by its immensity and wonder how they knew to design it so it would not break up in heavy seas you realise that this was all designed and tested in computer simulations.
The fact that it does not have traditional shaft driven propellers (it has 4 pods) and the props are shaped to cut through the water as efficiently as possible (they have 8 spares bolted onto the stern!) tells you this all had to be designed on a computer.
The QM2 weighs in at 155,000 tons and is over a 1000 feet long…but this is small fry for a new boat that is planned to weigh in at 210,000 tons, take 5000 passengers and 2500 crew; hope we get the chance to cruise in that one day…all achievable because of CAD!!!
We recently attended the Plastic Design & Moulding Show at Telford (which is not near the NEC – sorry ‘in joke’ about one of our directors orienteering skills!) as one of our clients needs our help to get a design; manufactured.
We were looking forward to seeing the best of British tooling and plastic injection moulding when, to our surprise, everything is not only made in china, it’s now tooled out there too.
If we were paranoid, we’d start to worry about everything being designed in China too…anyone for sushi!
Fripp Design uses the latest in software technology to help us with Design. We recently acquired a new rendering package which has even amazed us in the quality of the output and it got us thinking…is 3D Rendering the new Rapid Prototype?
Certainly the quality of the images are photorealistic; it takes the trained eye to tell the difference between a render and the real thing…but can it/should it replace the real thing? We’d like to think the answer to this is no but it certainly has its role.
Experience with clients says that seeing a real representation of a product prior to committing to prototype is time and cost saving, but still is a (virtual) world of difference to building, touching and interacting with the real thing.
The challenge we face, as Product Designers, though is the clients expectation that building a real prototype is simply making what they see on a screen…if only it was that simple. Building real products requires extensive knowledge of the materials, real world stresses and strains as well as designing for the appropriate prototyping technology you want to use (there are at least 10 different ways of prototyping that we use regularly).
Maybe one day there will be software that can do this (…we’ll be first in the queue!) but until then rendering is a great way to Rapidly Visualise a Product but will never replace the real thing!
Sustainable products are not necessarily all about products made from recycled goods and reusable materials; they can be about products that you want to keep because they are so desirable. Jewellery is a great example of a sustainable product (it never degrades but you don’t throw it away because it is so desirable to keep). In terms of modern product design we strive to impact on the environment as little as possible through developing products which are both desirable and have the minimum number of parts, that way they are not only cost effective to manufacture but are also environmentally efficient.
Free to Operate?
Designing for clients has many challenges, one of which is not always that obvious but is worth mentioning!
We’ve already blogged about the fact that Product Designers design under the instruction of the client so, apologies if I’m going over some old ground here!
We’ve also blogged about when the time is right to approach a Patent Attorney too. Too early and you’ll restrict what can be designed, too late and somebody may already have the idea patented…so where does our responsibility lay as a product design company, with respect to patent protection?
The answer is in timing and understanding who’s responsible for what. As a Product Design company we act on the instruction of the client. We have to assume that, when a client approaches us with their idea, they have already done their market research; part of which is patent searches i.e. giving us the basic information to which to start the design process. What we have said, in the past, is that don’t file an application until we’ve had chance to develop ideas which are within the brief given to us by the client but it is (and has to be) the responsibility of the client to ensure the client is free to operate within the design parameters given to us.
The brief is a critical part of any design project. As well as covering the market opportunity, the key features/desired benefit, the materials required, the target manufacturing cost, prototyping, tooling and manufacture; make sure you have covered the following key criteria before approaching a design company:
1) Does someone else already own the idea?
2) Are you certain somebody else hasn’t already thought of it?
3) Are you really sure?
We don’t normally use our blog for self promotion…but this is an exception!. Last year we were approached by the Design Council to come up with a design for money…assuming money as we know it doesn’t exist!
We were one of two UK companies selected by the Design Council for publication (http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/Documents/DCM/6DCM/DCM6_ColourofMoney.pdf). To be honest, though, the Design council only scratch the surface of what we did.
However there is a new competition sponsored by the Council looking at how to make mobile technology more secure and less desirable to be stolen as m-commerce is not starting to emerge.
We intend to enter the competition with some of the ideas we developed in this project so watch this space!