Transforming a concept into an actual product is not always an easy process. It takes patience, persistence, passion, and, more than anything, technical proficiency to get things started. The conception of a new product design is a lengthy process from the point you conceive an idea until converting it into a product that can build a profitable business. However, the fundamental steps to reach the end goal are easy to understand.
Most ideas do not make it. Occasionally, you will hear stories of how successful people came up with a brilliant idea out of the blue. Sometimes, a mistake can lead to a successful invention, like penicillin, superglue, the pacemaker, a microwave oven. The errors influencing those inventions were all done by scientists and engineers working in a laboratory.
However, you don’t necessarily need to be a genius to invent a commercially successful product. Think of the seemingly arbitrary and silly inventions you remember as a kid or the collectible toys: the pet rock, the slinky, slap bracelets, and the yellow smiley faces you see in stickers and emojis today. They were laughable and borderline useless, but the inventors profited millions of dollars from them.
Then again, waiting for an idea to come by sounds like something a passive person would do. There are still many ways to develop efficient techniques to discover a spot in the market where a new product will stand out. Some ideation methods for new invention design are as follows:
The primary purpose of brainstorming is to produce as many ideas as possible. Arguably, it is the most recognizable ideation method – a process you have most likely done back at the office or grade school. Brainstorming can be effective within a group setting, although a solo session is not improbable either.
You don’t need a large round table of people to yield favorable results. Sometimes, a small group of diverse people is more effective at generating ideas thanks to their varied fields of expertise, work experience, educational levels, social backgrounds, and even personal preferences.
A brainstorming session among a large group may be an endless argument rather than a fruitful discussion. As long as the group is diverse enough to present ideas from various perspectives, you may limit the discussion to ten people. The smaller the team, the more focused the conversation gets. Ensure the room is engaging enough with people who can generate new ideas.
Setting a time limit makes sense because you want every person to have an equal chance to explain their ideas. A limitation of 15 – 20 minutes for every thought should be plenty enough.
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The 6-3-5 Method
Another form of brainstorming technique is known as the 6-3-5 Method, in which six people write down three ideas in five minutes. As soon as the five minutes are up, members can pass their sheets to the next person. Everyone can start writing suggestions and constructive criticisms of the ideas presented in five minutes. Repeat the last two steps until every sheet of paper goes around in a full circle and reaches the person who originally wrote the three ideas.
This method encourages everyone to give an appropriate response to all ideas generated. The whole process is done in silence to avoid anybody from dominating the discussion. Once everyone receives their original sheet, an open dialogue can be enacted. Every conversation provides a chance for everybody to elaborate on what they wrote.
Five Whys Analysis
Another ideation technique known as the “five whys” has become the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach. Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries, developed this method, which eventually spawned the Toyota Group. The primary goal of this iterative quizzical technique is to explore the cause-and-effect of any underlying issue. Basically, every answer becomes the basis of the next question.
For example, if a person says that the next great product idea is an adhesive electrical cord, the next person would ask, “Why?” Any answer to a question would be subjected again to the same question at least four or more times. The question can be restated as often as necessary until a plausible root cause is determined correctly.
Once the idea becomes clear, the next important step is to date any documentation as evidence that you are the one who came up with the idea in the first place. Documentation can be in the form of written-down notes, illustrations with annotations and footnotes, and even video footage. Aim to make a record containing everything related to your product ideas, including how it works, how it manufactures, and any marketing plans.
Having all your documentation is necessary to obtain a patent and prevent other individuals from claiming your idea as theirs. It’s not a good idea to try the so-called “poor man’s patent,” in which you write your idea down and mail it to yourself in hopes of using the letter as a dated proof of invention‘s conception. It is the least verifiable form of documentation.
You can also add a detailed note in an inventor’s logbook – the type of notebook in which the pages cannot be subtracted or added without being evident – signed by a reliable witness ought to hold up in court.
The vast majority of patented products never make their way to the marketplace. Products that do hit the store shelves end up sitting there when no one is interested or doesn’t need it. When you present your product idea to friends and family, chances are they would tell you many great things about it, except they shouldn’t be your only target consumer. Before filing for a patent and investing a lot of money in the subsequent processes, do preliminary research into your target market.
In simple terms, your target market comprises people who will see value in your product and find it useful. To begin with, these are the people for whom you craft and develop the idea for. Remember that simply “everybody” is never a guaranteed target market.
Doing market research also involves analyzing competing products—for example, packaging, quality, and pricing. People are not going to purchase your products while they can find better, cheaper alternatives. At this point, you have no choice but to make a detailed calculation on how the product will be manufactured, distributed, and priced. Find the right balance between production cost and retail price to make sure your product reaches a competitive place.
There are millions of design patents in the United States and Canada. Just because you have not seen any product in the market that looks similar to your idea, it does not necessarily mean nobody has filed or even obtained a patent for it. Explore fundamental research online at any patent office’s website based in your country. Every nation has rules that govern whether or not certain products can be patented, so make sure you understand their regulations.
When in doubt, it is always better to hire a patent attorney to help you with the application process. We do not recommend filing for a patent until building the first prototype of your product and put it to the test, as patents and patent attorneys can be costly. Learn more about applying for a design patent on Cad Crowd.
Prototype and Test
At this stage, your idea is still considered a design concept. It helps to make a prototype which is a working model of the product you want to sell, with all the attributes and features written down in your inventor’s journal. A prototype will allow you to visualize the idea and demonstrate the product design and functionality.
An efficient way to build a prototype is by adopting a digital mockup with CAD software. Depending on the nature and complexity of your design, the final drawing can be either 3D printed or produced in a prototype factory. Learn how to protect your invention with NDA’s (non-disclosure agreement) before hiring any 3D artist or prototype maker. Essentially, having both parties sign an NDA prevents and protects your idea from getting stolen.
Once the prototype is ready, it is time to put it to the test and use the product in an everyday situation. For example, if your product is an adhesive electrical cord, the PCB design expert would test it on an actual electrical wiring installation. Be sure to take notes of the product’s use and features such as conductivity, heat, ease of use, compatibility with other products, etc. It is a mistake to expect the prototype to work precisely as intended from the get-go since a prototype usually reveals flaws and shortcomings that you make improvements.
Once you have a fully working prototype, you can hire a registered patent attorney to help write and file your application. Although it is easier to apply yourself, sometimes working with a professional can prevent potential legal loopholes and effectively stop others from copying your ideas in the future.
Build and Market
Now it’s time to manufacture your product and bring it to the market. You can work with a factory partner of your choosing to handle the purchase of raw materials and lend its production line – for a fee, of course. Once the final products are made, they are all yours to sell and distribute.
If you do not want to maintain a business selling your product, another option is to license your product for a price through another company. You do receive a percentage of sales in royalty fees.
At Cad Crowd, we offer 3D design & 3D CAD design services to assist you. We work with world-class professionals who will help you take the necessary steps to ensure your design is ready for manufacturing. We guarantee that your design concept will be accurate to your project description, and if you are looking for more information, send us a message and request a free quote!