Can it Be Made?

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.

Compliance 101:

  • 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?




Watch Your Step: An Acronym Minefield

Watch Your Step: An Acronym Minefield

Manufacturing and consumption drive the global economy. Yet, with billions of products on the market, how can consumers have confidence in the safety of the products they purchase?

Laws here and abroad mandate product safety compliance testing for a wide range of consumer products. To comply, manufacturers and importers must certify products with a written or electronic compliance certificate. Certifications must accompany the product. Often a copy must be provided to retailers, product distributors, the government, and (occasionally) to the end consumer.

There are several different types of respected international certifications for product safety for items manufactured around the world. These marks are intended to provide safety and quality assurance to end consumers and, in some cases, to ease entry of goods into certain markets.

product-safety-engineering CE

The CE mark refers to the French “Conformité Européene.” CE marking on a product is a manufacturer’s declaration that the product is in compliance with essential requirements of relevant European health, safety, and environmental protection legislation. With the CE mark, government officials know the product may be legally placed on the marked in a specific country. The mark also means the product may move freely through EFTA and European Union markets. Non-conforming products are subject to removal by customs officials or other compliance officials within a country.



Canada’s CSA International provides product testing and certification services for electrical, mechanical, plumbing, gas, and a variety of other products. CSA’s mark is recognized internationally and appears on billions of products. The CSA international certification mark indicates that a product, process, or service has been tested to a Canadian or US standard and meets compliance standards. Like the CE mark and others, the CSA mark is intended to provide quality and safety assurance.



Intertek’s ETL Mark proves product compliance to North American safety standards. The ETL Mark is the fastest-growing safety certification in North America. US and Canadian officials accept the mark as proof of product compliance. For retail buyers, the mark assures product safety and compliance and brings peace of mind.



Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a global independent safety science company with more than a century of experience in product safety testing and innovation. Dedicated to promoting safe living and working environments, UL helps safeguard people, products and places in important ways, facilitating trade and providing peace of mind. A UL Listing means that the company has tested representative samples of a specific product and determined that the product meets UL requirements for consumer safety. These stringent requirements are primarily based on UL’s nationally recognized Standards for Safety.


Want to expand your knowledge of product safety compliance, developments in technology, and the future of the field? Connect with a global community of fellow professionals by joining IEEE’s Product Safety and Engineering Society. When you do, you’ll reap the benefits of access to publications, opportunities for leadership, and chances to network.

Resolve to Get Involved

Resolve to Get Involved

A new year primes us for making positive change in the months ahead. It often drives renewed energy and an open mind. This year, consider prioritizing your professional growth and network through membership in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Product Safety and Engineering Society (PSES).

A global community focused on product safety and regulatory engineering, the IEEE Product Safety and Engineering Society includes thousands of members worldwide in the medical, scientific, engineering, industrial, commercial and residential sectors. With access to an online community and opportunities to connect at Society-sponsored events, the PSES offers both established and future professionals valuable resources and connections. Those include, among others:

#1: Access to timely information on product design and safety, engineering, and technology.

Stay ahead of the curve in the safety and technology developments that affect your projects now as well as the future of your work. Whether you’re building your career, sharpening your imagination, or deepening your technical knowledge for sales presentations, IEEE’s technical journals, research, and publications offer a wealth of current information on developments in product safety engineering as well as cutting-edge news in equipment and device development.

#2: Grow your network with Society-sponsored activities and events.

Membership provides opportunities to connect with others in the field through the annual IEEE Symposium on Product Compliance Engineering (ISPCE) as well as other Society-sponsored events, Section activities, and meetings organized by local chapters.

#3: Invest in your career development.

Connect with others as passionate about work and career as you are. With information, professional development opportunities, and the connections offered through an online and in-person community, you’ll have a “think tank” of like-minded engineering and product safety professionals. Exchange ideas and new solutions, seek collaboration, and grow your knowledge base.

#4: Burnish your professional credentials.

Professional membership can establish or reinforce your professional credentials, whatever your goal—from growing your sales prospects to helping your resume stand out from the crowd.

#5: Grow your leadership capacity.

Making the most of your PSES membership, from coordinating local events to establishing thought leadership, helps you cultivate your own leadership experience. In turn, you’ll see the benefits in your career growth, now and in future.

This year, resolve to get involved as an IEEE Product Safety and Engineering Society member. When you do, you’ll expand your network, grow your technical knowledge, and push your professional horizons.