How to Design, Prototype and Manufacture an Idea: Full Case Study

idea-to-concept-to-store-shelves

Start-ups and E-commerce entrepreneurs are developing custom products to meet niche customer demand. This allows them to control quality, features, and most importantly, margins!

The challenge is getting ideas into manufacture-ready designs, building out a supply chain and ramping up volume production with consistent quality.

Discover the process one entrepreneur went through to manufacture his 概念验证原型 面向大众市场的想法.

 

介绍:这是Lily Chillers创始人John

Meet John, a digital nomad, e-commerce entrepreneur and Founder of Lily Chillers. John knows his way around the internet, B2C sales and Amazon. He is an idea man who is always thinking of solutions to problems. When his swimming pool got so hot baking in the sweltering Texas sun, 他开始在网上寻找解决方案.

Not finding any suitable solutions to keep his pool cool, (existing insulation blankets and heat pump systems cost thousands of dollars), he began developing his own solution by replicating the function of a standard car shade.

By testing out different materials, John eventually created a 概念验证原型 that worked. His pool was staying 10 degrees cooler than without the pad. A win! 下一步是制造业. 这就是约翰被困住的地方.

john-smith-lily-chillers

创始人:约翰·史密斯


问题:如何创造一个想法?

With a 概念验证原型 in hand, John began researching how to manufacture his product. 他的研究给了他更多的问题而不是答案.

  • 谁来提供材料?
  • 包装是什么?
  • 谁来做工程太阳计算,以选择合适的耐候性和良好的太阳反射性能的材料?
  • How much would it cost to manufacture his prototype in high volume?

Stuck, John began researching factories that manufacture products in China.

original-lily-chillers-prototype

寻找制造产品的制造商

典型的企业家风格, 约翰带着他的早期设计和原型的照片,开始通过阿里巴巴等网站联系制造商. He found manufacturers were more than willing to help.

The trouble came when they found out John was a one-man-operation with a big idea, a soggy prototype, 而且没有现成的设计文件. John discovered three major issues with trying to source a manufacturer:

  1. Language Barrier: Factories that looked like a perfect fit for his product had a very difficult time communicating in English. 他得不到直接的答案.
  2. 制作一个可投入生产的原型: John knew some design tweaks were needed to his prototype to ensure it did not blow away or sink, but factories only wanted to make the product in volume from a finished design with drawings. Working with the supplier directly to figure out what had to change felt like too big a risk to take.
  3. Cost: The upfront costs to manufacture a low-volume run of his idea exceeded his budget, and they would not guarantee the quality of the product upfront.

After several months of struggling to find a manufacturer to make his idea, he conceded and began searching for help to get his idea ready to manufacture.

“我试图亲自联系中国, but as soon as they found out I was a one-man operation, I got nowhere. 这种情况发生了好几次. I was stuck”

约翰,Lily Chillers的创始人


选择设计公司

Moving past the manufacturing roadblock, John began looking for companies that could help. 他开始在谷歌网站上搜索“把我的想法带到制造领域”和“制造我的产品”的公司.

The results pulled up several invention designs houses that John did not get a good feeling from. The NDA’s included terms that would sign-off his ideas and IP rights.  结果担保, 开发过程, design fees, and pricing structure also seemed to have holes.

John began expanding his search to include “product design firms” and “产品开发公司”. He found several companies that used a ‘service-for-hire’, model where he would retain full ownership of his idea and any further IP developed.

在与几家公司进行初步通话后, the Design 1st team stood out from the pack for several reasons:

  • 已证实的成功记录, with many successful projects to reference that are selling in the market including Tablo TV, Stanley, QNX, Ericsson, Fortinet
  • The opportunity to 交互式远程工作 与设计团队合作, 向他们学习专业知识, and visit China with a Design 1st expert having 25 years’ experience working in Asia
  • They provided a clear product 开发过程 on how to take John’s idea, a 概念验证原型 and modify the design for manufacturing
  • 数十年的“远程工作”工具和流程使得参与设计讨论、制定关键成本和营销决策变得容易
  • 公共部件的广泛供应商网络, custom parts, custom materials, prototyping and manufacturers that build the custom products

“我最初将搜索范围缩小到5家设计公司,然后我在design 1st与Ian Kayser进行了一次非常愉快的交谈, followed by a call with Design 1st Senior Industrial Designer Chris. It felt right.”

约翰,Lily Chillers的创始人


contat-design-1st

Design 1st - Ian Kayser - VP Sales - Your First Point of Contact

Solution: Hiring a Design Company With a Large Manufacturer Network

Once John engaged Design 1st, progress began to happen quickly. 建立了项目时间表, 他们召开了启动会议,并选择了一位在软隔热产品方面有经验的开发团队领导来指导这个项目.

步骤1:项目启动会议

第一个活动是开幕会. John的目的是与团队见面,分享他在18个月的产品解决方案测试过程中获得的知识. 这些投入将有助于识别关键风险, challenges, and set the product requirements to develop the best solution.

weekly-zoom-call

每周Zoom客户会议

设计第一高级团队成员包括:

  • Chris -高级产品设计师, a soft-goods expert who has extensive experience working with fabric, insulation, 以及热封制造工艺
  • Dave -制造副总裁, 他负责监管供应链, 制造部的建立和采购, 材料和总装供应商
  • Allan - VP Analytics, the resident data-cruncher who helps clients identify potential market size, 竞争对手情报, and pricing strategies using online research and surveys to inform the design team on key product features

Output:
Step 1 delivered a product development schedule and rough timelines for key activities.

4-stage-product-development-process

设计第一个产品开发时间表模板


第二步:产品概念调查

在进入产品开发之前, John opted to engage the marketing team at Design 1st for an investigation analysis of his product concept. This goal was to understand the existing market landscape including:

  • Market Size: How big was the potential consumer market for pool cooling devices? What was the monthly search query volume for these devices?
  • Patent Landscape: Which patents covered competitor devices selling in the marketplace now? What were the relevant patent classifications covering similar devices?
  • 竞争情报: What key features did comparative and competitor products have? 他们使用了哪些材料? 现有产品有什么设计问题吗?
  • Supply Chain: 谁在制造有竞争力的产品? 分销策略是什么? 现有产品的制造成本是多少?

The output was a 30-page report that revealed a promising market for the product concept. Over 2.6M residential pools in hot US climates and few direct competitors to meet demand. Google trends data revealed the exact states searching for ‘cool swimming pool’ devices:

The report also included a ‘竞争对手产品特征矩阵’. Valuable inputs that would help accelerate the product 开发过程 by identifying the materials, pricing, features, size, 以及现有产品的分销模式.

竞争对手产品特征矩阵

竞争对手产品特征矩阵

关键是约翰的新产品概念有一个坚实的机会,以渗透现有的市场,混合令人失望的质量和高价. The plan was to deliver a return-on-investment to cover the product development costs in under a year, 根据预计的销售量.


第三步:产品需求研究

第一设计团队从启动会议和产品概念调查中获取信息,开始探索可制造的概念. 这一步涉及到深入目标用例, customer needs, 以及产品配置选项. 这包括研究为什么加热池的比较产品(充气太阳环)有这么多负面评论和制造问题.

Defined Key Product Requirements and Risks including:

  • 保持泳池温度低于10度. No Product
  • Does not blow away
  • 适合标准的运输箱
  • Pool-Chemical安全材料. Corrosive effect of chlorine, bromine, salt, and UV light
  • Product Configurations: thermal sheets, custom materials, heat sealing inflatable, moulded parts
  • Sizes and material configurations of the product- how many units will cover a standard pool?
  • 冷却方法:辐射,气隙,或组合

Output:
步骤3将关键目标和产品需求固化在一个文档中,以供将来参考,作为产品概念评估时的权衡工具.


步骤4:可制造的设计概念

在每一个产品设计练习中,有趣的部分是构思新的可制造的设计概念,并将其转化为功能性设计. 用于泳池冷却器, 这意味着综合所有的产品需求, the unpredictability of outdoor environments and corrosive pool chemical attack on materials.

Chris凭借他十年的软质产品和绝缘产品设计经验,开发出了可行的产品概念. The first step was defining potential product concept directions.

rank-product-concepts

产品概念的方向

探索多重设计概念

设计一队开始探索材料, 制造工艺和成本效益, shippable product concepts that would keep pools cool. The result was 8 可制造的设计概念 ready for review.

These included:

-          充气设备

-泡沫与反光插入

-热水浴缸盖

-模切拼图泡沫

-          浮动的遮阳篷

——倒立伞

-灵活的反光灯罩

-单注塑件

客户使用一个简单的评级过程,根据目标和要求,根据业务战略给予不同的优先权重,对这8个制造概念中的每一个进行评估.

A variant of the winning concept is shown in the images below with various visual looks. 这一概念是基于一个可折叠的汽车遮荫概念与设计特点,以确保它不会沉没或吹走.

Output:
A selected concept reviewed from a user and business perspective, ready for detailed engineering and manufacturer DFM review.


Step 5: Prototype & Testing

Once a design concept was chosen, full size 3D CAD geometry design files were created.  Dave, 设计第一制造领导去寻找最好的材料供应商和热封生产设备的批量生产. 通过文本聊天和隔夜文件传递的持续沟通,使得从一个完整的想法到一个原型的过程变得非常快,即使是与全新的供应商.

After vetted factories reviewed files, each agreed to make a custom heat-sealing tool to 构建原型样品 of the product. 目标是测试和验证供应商和一系列材料,以选择满足质量和成本要求的最佳解决方案.

“We brought in Dave, and in two weeks we had a prototype from China”

- John, Lily Chillers的创始人

α原型测试

五个样品原型产品到达设计一号. 它们经过设计团队的检查和编目,然后被送到德克萨斯州的John进行设计验证和池测试.

一个月的时间, John and the design team worked on iterating the design to fine tune the performance. This included adding more small drain holes to keep the product buoyant, as well as selecting a 3-stage valve allowing for easy inflation and deflation.  First prototype images are shown here.

prototype-testing-lily-chillers

“设计第一”发现了两种性能最好的原型,它们使用的材料成本明显不同. 与设计团队合作, a final decision on the material was made and John was ready to move forward to mass-producing the product.

Output:
材料样品和不同材料的5个原型送客户在实际使用条件下进行验证和测试.


步骤6:制造设置和工厂参观

约翰现在已经有了一个可制造的设计,为批量生产做好了准备,并很高兴能进入产品开发的最后阶段 manufacturer setup.

中国工厂参观
在提高产量之前, Lily Chillers的创始人John与Design 1st一起前往中国,与他的主要供应商和工厂见面.

为期4天的访问包括参观多家工厂, 生产过程检查, and building relationships with the overseas supply chain team under the guidance of Dave.  The outcome was a massive learning experience for John and the ability to order, inspect, 独立安排产品交付. 戴夫只有在出现问题时才会被叫来.

“Visiting China with Design 1st was one of the best learning experiences of my life. 我现在明白了如何快速地从一个产品理念转变为一个具有可靠的高质量批量生产的令人惊叹的解决方案!”

- John, Lily Chillers的创始人

china-manufacutring-lily-chillers

制造安装

After inspecting the manufacturing process and seeing the custom heat-sealing tool in person, John signed off on the first volume production run of his product. While waiting for the first shipment John began building out his website www.lilychillers.com 而营销引擎的目标是2.居住在美国炎热气候下的6米以上游泳池业主.

Output:
A reliable predictable product design with a qualified manufacturer, 订单和发货过程, 为约翰100%拥有的制造商安排交货时间、理解和产品规格,使制造商能够在许可下生产产品.


结果:批量生产

The first volume production run of John’s idea arrived in Texas - 5000 Lily Chillers, quality inspected, 包装好,准备出售. To start out, John repurposed his garage into a distribution warehouse and got the product ready to ship. 下一步是加强商业运作, turning on the sales and marketing engine and preparing to engage the target market.

电子商务销售及市场营销

John’s experience in business operations, e-commerce and marketing came in handy. A simple e-commerce website was setup and John began targeting pool owners via Facebook. Using an authentic video pitch showcasing the product and the value proposition, John began driving sales and generating positive reviews from consumers.

The result? The first 5000 Lily Chillers were sold, and it was time to restock and scale operations. 查看John的原始销售视频如下:

Visit www.lilychillers.com

持续的生产支持

随着莉莉·奇勒的销量持续增长, 设计第一内部制造支持团队将为John提供兼职虚拟支持,以进行生产协调,直到John准备好承担全部供应运营的角色.

Effective interaction with remote suppliers is critical to schedule product supply to meet consumer demand. Ongoing activities involve design refinements, tracking 制造质量, shipping logistics coordination, contracts, and writing exact information on purchase orders.

在协调这些活动方面的支持,确保Lily Chillers能够顺利地将产品从工厂转移到客户手中.

Year 1 of Sales:

First-year of sales and everything is moving predictably, the first 5000 units are sold and the next order is in process.  对产品设计团队的投资已被证明是将可预测的高质量产品交付到国家第三方物流仓库的正确方式. The result is a low touch online ordering and the lowest cost delivery to consumers.

热情的顾客反应给了约翰一个成功的商业运作的机会,并在第二年用新产品的想法来增加销售.

The Learning:

R&D and product design is a one-time event involving hundreds of critical decisions. 使用你可以信任的专家是一种快速且低风险的方法,可以降低创建新企业的产品开发风险.

 

探索更多案例研究

The Design 1st team works on many types of custom products
serving Entrepreneurs, Start Ups and Enterprise Business teams!

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