Each new product development project will follow slightly different paths depending upon the inventor's expectations and the nature of the product. Our Product Design and Development Process is outlined below to provide you with a guideline as to how a new product can go from an idea to reality. At times we are presented with a new product idea that has gone through several of these development phases but is stalled for one reason or another. We are able to pick up a partially developed project and take to any level in the Design and Development Process our client requires in a matter of weeks and months, not years. As a client, we can take your project, whether it's sporting equipment, a medical device, industrial apparatus, or a new power tool from concept to and phase of the design and development process that you desire.
First and foremost the client's idea for a new product must be protected prior to any disclosure of the idea. The first step in our relationship with a client is to execute a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to protect the client's rights for intellectual property protection. A copy of our standard NDA form is available for the client's review and use or we will be pleased to use the client's NDA form. All notes, sketches, drawings, etc. describing the 'idea' should be kept in a hard-bound note book by the inventor. Each page should be numbered and each entry dated and initialed. Discussions with others regarding the 'idea' should be avoided if at all possible. If not, all individuals involved in these discussions should execute a NDA with the inventor. The inventor's note book and all executed NDA forms will greatly assist the patent application process and help to validate the originality of the inventor's idea. Once the NDA has been properly executed, GID will arrange for a telephone conference call (at no charge) to discuss the client's idea(s) with our CEO and Senior Designer. This conference provides us with the opportunity to learn about the inventor's expectations for their new product idea and for the client to better understand what GID has to offer them to bring their idea to reality. GID Design and Business teams will review the information gathered from the conference call and will meet to formulate a proposal specific to the client's expectations for their new product idea that is consistent with GID's 30 plus years of expertise. This proposal will be presented to the client with an itemized list of related fees for the recommended initial phases of the Product Design & Development Process as outlined below
One of our design/engineer team members will be selected to champion the client's project based upon both their technical expertise and intuitive grasp of the new product to bring a value added approach to the design and engineering efforts. The Conceptual Design is the first phase of the product development process and provides the assigned GID designer the opportunity to collaborate with the inventor on all details regarding fit, form, function, ergonomics and aesthetics. During this crucial phase consideration will be given to the tooling and manufacturing process requirements to ensure that the product can be cost effectively manufactured and packaged ready for distribution. These manufacturing considerations, coupled with a comparison of domestic versus off-shore manufacturing sources, will be continually evaluated throughout the entire product development process. Only when the client has approved the conceptual design will we move forward to the next phase of the development process. The entire conceptual design is developed in 3D computer aided virtual design, thus eliminating the cost of physical mock-ups. This also enables us to test the product virtually and make on the fly changes with you in real time. The conceptual design phase is crucial to the overall success of the project because it drives the remaining design & development processes.
The development of Models and/or Prototypes is normally the first stage of the Tooling Process due to the similarity of the design software that is essential in generating both models/prototypes and the tooling required to manufacture the product. The design engineer can learn a great deal from a detailed prototype that will save time and cost in the design of the tooling. The resultant model or prototype is usually the first step in determining the proof of design. Producing several versions of models and prototypes will most definitely increase the time to completion and the cost of the product development process. GID utilizes the latest state-of-the-art design software with a complete suite of the IBM/Dassault Systemes PLM (Product Life Cycle Management) Solutions which incorporates CATIA V5, the leading 3-D Virtual Product Development software. Models of the product's conceptual design can be completely developed, evaluated and analyzed in the virtual world before resources are committed for the fabrication of models and/or prototypes. Depending on the nature of the new product, 3-D models can be hand crafted in our model shop or at times more cost effectively created directly from the electronic design files utilizing the stereo lithography process (SLA) to create dimensionally and detail correct models that permit the inventor and designer to evaluate by touch and feel the fruits of the collaborative effort to date. When the on-going collaborative effeort between the client and the designer results in the client's approval to continue, the development process will proceed to the manufacture of functional prototype(s) that can be put through performance testing sometimes including market evaluation. The prototype(s) will also be used to validate the tooling requirements and the manufacturing process to more accurately determine the manufactured cost.
This stage of the product development process, the new product has approached the stage where it can best be presented to a patent law firm in a manner that makes it easier for a patent attorney to appreciate the novel and unique features of the product. Armed with the note books from the inventor and the GID designers and the Executed NDA forms along with a model/prototype, 3-D renderings and engineering drawings developed in CATIA V5, the patent attorney will have a better grasp on how best to proceed saving precious time which equates to $$$ when a law firm is engaged. Usually it is best to proceed with a patent search for existing patents and prior art and if justified, followed with a Provisional Utility Patent Application which will provide protection for a period of one year at which time final Patent Applications must be filed or the provisional application must be abandoned. During the one-year protection period provided by the Provisional Patent Application, consideration may be given to the pursuit of a Design Patent as well as Trade Mark protection. This time period also permits refinements to the product design derived from market research and ongoing product testing.
The need for injection molds, patterns, cast molds; electronics, etc. will be determined by the nature of the new product, its materials of construction and of course the design. Tooling design is driven by the conceptual design and model/prototype phases. The transition from product design to tool design is made more exact and cost effective with the suite of PLM tools in conjunction with CATIA V5 used by GID throughout the entire product development process. By example, complex injection mold tooling can be designed in CATA V5 and the design data electronically transmitted to our offshore tool manufacturing source that will fabricate the complete tooling at a fraction of the cost compared to domestic sources. Depending on the client's business plan and approach to market, it may be determined that single cavity tooling be made to produce smaller volumes of the new product to validate market acceptance and lubricate distribution channels before going into mass production and investing in multiple cavity tooling. This walk before running approach may be the more prudent way to launch the new product. A thorough review of the pertinent approaches for tooling requirements will be presented to the client for approval to proceed in the best way possible.
Every aspect of a product's life cycle, including concept and manufacture to after sales support and maintenance can be effectively managed with PLM Solutions incorporated into the new product project effort. Coordination and collaboration between designer, manufacturer, material supply chain, inventory, spare parts, customer support, marketing collateral, and distribution channels ensures that the products can be cost effectively managed throughout its life cycle. GID's involvement in a client's project is determined by the client and may be different from one client to another depending upon the client's business plan and exit strategy for their project. GID has developed best practices based upon PLM Solutions for every phase of its involvement in a project. We believe that this capability in addition to our skill sets in utilizing CATIA V5 (the design software of choice for aeronautical and automotive giants such as Boeing, Daimler Chrysler, BMW and a host of other enterprise level companies) differentiates GID amongst the design and product development firms.
Before a new product is completely ready for high volume mass production it may be advisable to provide small volume pre mass production runs (500 to 10,000 units per run) to get the product in the hands of end-users for market research, price validation and product performance feedback. This low volume manufacturing can be arranged to be supplied from offshore and sometimes domestic sources. Cost effective and price competitive pre mass production can be provided by GID that will keep our client on and even playing field with the competion.
GID can assist with the market preparation for the new product with design and sourcing of logos, packaging, and sales collateral. Packaging design can make or break the successful marketing effort for a new or improved product. For those products eventually headed for the mass retail market, certain packaging requirements must be adhered to. For those clients who want to either test market or go to market via the internet we can also design and manage a website for them including product fullfillment. The website marketing approach is a way of generating the documented sales history, product acceptance and pricing validation that is required by the mass retailer product category buyer fraternity. E. Again, we can use the 3D CATIA models in sales and marketing materials to further keep costs down by eliminating or reducing costly photography for product launch.
The transition from low volume pre mass production to high volume mass production must be carefully planned for and managed. Coordination of all manufacturing facets with the marketing and distribution requirements can determine the success or failure of the transition. In addition to the design and sourcing of high volume mass production tooling, fixtures, and manufacturing procedures, GID can also arrange for the offshore manufacture of your product and import it packaged and ready for market. For those clients who wish to establish their own manufacturing operations, GID can create the complete manufacturing process.
Once the initial new product has proven market acceptance the opportunity to expand it into a full product line is often desired. Many of the design and development processes utilized for the initial product can efficiently and cost effectively be reutilized and expanded to accommodate a product line expansion and/or improvement. This benefit is provided through the effective utilization of the Product Life Cycle Solutions from IBM and the suite of design tools provided in CATIA V5 virtual design software.