For anyone who has ever wondered how products come into existence, this blog post is an (extremely) abridged description of the process that product gets from an idea to one that you are able to buy from a shop shelf.
Prior to all of the following steps, someone somewhere has to have a great idea that they identify will fill a gap in the market, or as being an improvement to an existing product.
Step 1 Research
After a potential product has been thought of, a research phase is entered where the potential market for the product and the expected retail price identified. There’s not much point taking a product further if it the market for it will not provide a decent return on the investment required to manufacture it. Specialist product marketing firms such as Power Decisions are often used to carry out this phase of research. You can find out more on the Power Decisions website.
Step 2 Concepts and Prototypes
3D product drawings are usually produced using computer CAD software – these precise drawings are then used later in the manufacturing process. You can see examples of the kinds of drawings on the website of CAD software manufacturer, Autodesk.
Prototypes of the product are assembled, often requiring the manufacture of one off components to be made where parts are not already in existence. One such company that provides one off components for prototypes is European Springs who can be seen here on their twitter page.
Step 3 Testing and Refinement and Evaluation
The concept product then enters an intensive stage of testing, the results of which can lead to refinements to the original design – this may need a return to the previous concept drawing prototype stage. Ultimately an entirely new product prototype may need to be created. The final evaluation of this development phase brings all the data gathered about the product performance and usability and functionality together prior to manufacture.
Step 4 Manufacture
It is commonplace for the manufacture of outsourced to a manufacturing company with particular expertise in the field. Probably the most notable example of this is the manufacture of Apple’s iPhone which is carried out by electronics giant foxconn. Whilst foxconn do not manufacture every component of the iPhone they are responsible for the final assembly in their electronics facilities in China. The original CAD drawings and prototypes will be passed to the chosen manufacturing facility for them to begin the process of final product manufacture.
Step 5 Distribution and Marketing
The final manufactured product is now at the stage where it can be sent via a distribution network to its intended market place. The product will not arrive at its retail location unannounced. Clever marketing campaigns are behind nearly every product to create anticipation of and demand for the product before it is available for sale.
This blog is really only intended as an overview of the concept to product process. There are many other steps that were above the scope of this blog post, such as safety testing and packaging design and production. Many products take years to make it through all of the design and development stages that are required.