You Designed a Good Product—Can It Be Made?
For every product that engineers create, there are two creative forging processes. The first is the leap of creativity and imagination that generates the idea for the product itself. Perhaps the product springs from a genuine gap and need—the “mother of invention” moment—or perhaps the product is a leap forward in innovation from some imperfect version already on the market.
The second forging process is the engineering or manufacturing process. Many projects that spring from the imagination hit the skids at this point. That’s because there is a gulf between our thinking and the reality of making an idea fully functional. There’s yet another gulf between producing something on a small scale and producing it consistently on a larger scale. Consider, for instance, what might be necessary in terms of materials, logistics, and supply chain to produce a large-scale run of a product for international shipment and sale. Furthermore, a product will also need to meet safety and compliance standards, often for ease of entry into domestic or foreign markets.
The first step, once you’ve designed a product, is to create a prototype. Creating a prototype, even from materials readily available to you at the moment rather than final production materials, lets you identify any flaws in your thinking. A prototype will also let you experiment with the ideal materials to use in your product as well as help you better describe your product to others—colleagues at work, potential collaborators, and even potential project investors.
Prototypes—and the next iteration, called a pre-production prototype—can also help you explore other considerations for actually producing your product. After all, an inspired idea and good design are two entirely different processes.
Using your professional expertise as well as the resources and connections you can tap with membership in IEEE’s Product Safety and Engineering Society, for example, you might explore the following considerations:
- What compliance and product safety certifications might be necessary to bring my product to market?
- Are my components all appropriate? Just because they’re UL, doesn’t mean the system will pass.
- What documentation does the NRTL Need?
- What tests are going to be required?
- IEEE PSES has a compliance 101 Track at ISPCE ’17. Click here for more info.
IEEE Product Safety and Engineering Society membership affords a range of opportunities for product engineers, designers, and inventors to further their ideas and product design feasibility stages. With access to timely information and research on technology, PSES members stay current on what’s new and upcoming in their fields of interest. Society-sponsored events and chapter meetings offer opportunities for members to connect with each other and discuss professional and passion projects. Such connections can lead to collaboration and mentorship—invaluable benefits for those seeking to bring new ideas into the world.
Whatever your goal or ideas may be, you’ll find they’re strengthened by active membership and professional connections with membership in IEEE’s Product Safety and Engineering Society.
- What is the potential market for my product?
- What are my product’s direct and indirect competitors, if any?
- Can my product be manufactured? If so, in what country should it be manufactured?
- Can my product be produced consistently? Are there design flaws that should be addressed or corrected? Are there roadblocks or bottlenecks in the manufacturing process?
- What are the potential costs and investment required in manufacturing my product and bringing it to market?
- What are the product safety considerations in manufacturing my product, and in end consumer use?