Considering which material is best for your product is of upmost importance. It can greatly influence the product’s form and function. For example, plastics such as ABS are robust, lightweight and wear resistant making it an ideal material for children’s toys. Stainless steel on the other hand is heavier, much stronger and evokes a premium feeling in certain contexts such as smart phones. It is commonly used in construction equipment for its strength. There are a multitude of different materials with different qualities that can be used to solve problems in innovative ways or make a product appeal to a particular market. Understanding your target market, its needs and the functional requirements of your invention are all important factors in selecting the most suitable material. The material selected heavily influences the possible fabrication processes and therefore the design of the product.
There are a multitude of possible fabrication processes associated to every material, each with a variety of advantages and disadvantaged to consider when designing a product. Processes such as injection moulding can create high quality, accurate plastic parts and is ideal for high volume production. However, the process has extremely expensive set up costs and requires large production quantities to be cost effective. If high accuracy isn’t necessary, vacuum forming or rotary moulding may be a more cost-effective alternative manufacturing process. If prototyping is required to test the product before investing in mass production, production methods such as 3D printing or CNC machining may be appropriate.
The fabrication process needs to be considered at the start and throughout the design process, with respect to aspects such as the target market expectations and production quantity. The manufacturing processes chosen must be reflected in the design of the product, such as having large draft angles for vacuum formed components or the design limitations when considering moulding techniques of processes such as injection or blow moulding. When creating prototypes, parts can be designed and optimised for 3D printing by reducing possible support material and ensuring the correct print orientation is used.
What we offer
Innovate has a multitude of experienced designers, with a wealth of knowledge in materials and fabrication methods. We have brought many products to market in a variety of different sectors, giving us the unique experience of using materials and production methods across a diverse range of industries. Our designers have experience in designing for different manufacturing techniques in both mass production and small-scale prototyping and can help bring your invention to life in a cost effective, innovative way. We can help you investigate which materials are best for your invention and consider which manufacturing processes would suit your product with respect to factors such as target market requirements, expected production quantity and desired product price.
“Designing for manufacture and material considerations are at the forefront of my mind when designing a new product. I always consider, throughout the design process, which mass production methods will be used and its limitations as well as the appropriate materials for each part. This greatly influences the form and function of my concepts and ensures its manufacturability. I want to help clients design great quality products, reach mass production and get their invention onto shop shelves quickly and cost effectively.”
Kinkit – Product Designer at Innovate