Choosing your Product Design Partner

Posted on 16/08/2011 by Chadanuch Pomankul

So you have a cool idea. A new product that will revolutionize the world. The only thing missing is… well, the product.  You have a great product in your head. And you want to share it. So you need a product / industrial designer that makes your product come to life. How do you find one? And what’s the best choice?

a) Freelance Industrial Designer

One way is to just look for a freelance industrial designer. Very often freelance designers are students or just graduated from university with a degree in Industrial Design or Product Design. Most likely you’ll save a buck (or more) by using a fresh graduate. Even Freelance Product Designers with experience tend to be cheaper compared to the Design Companies.

However, an industrial designer with little experience might not have enough experience in designing a product that can be manufactured easily. In fact, for a good product design you’ll need more than just one person. The process can be complex and requires designers, engineers and manufacturing people to work closely together.

If you decide to use a freelance designer make sure he/she has a lot experience in the product you want to design. Ask him to show you other products that he/she has designed and engineered. Speaking about engineering: This part is really important. It’s actually more important than the design.

What is engineering? In this context engineering means to use an available design and make a 3D file that can be fed in a machine for production. There’s little use in having a cool design on paper but you can’t produce it.

Whoever you choose to design your product – ask him/her about their engineering experience. A good Industrial Designer knows how to Design to Manufacture and he/she is familiar with how to  produce your product at a competitive price.

 

b) Product Design / Industrial Design Consultants in your home country

A professional Product Design / Industrial Design company will be familiar with the Product Design Process. The process includes:

– Research

– Concept Design

– Engineering

– Prototyping

– Manufacturing Documentation

– Manufacturing

Professional Product Design Consultants have experts in all fields. And since the company is located in your home country it’s easy to arrange meetings and drop by.

If you choose a Professional Product Design House ask how they help you to manufacture your product. Many cool products never make it to market. Not that these products aren’t any good – a lot of them are fantastic! But the coordination between the Product Design Consultants and the factory can be very challenging, especially if you need to produce your product in Asia to make it cost effective. Wherever you produce, make sure your Product Design Consultants have staff on the ground at the factory to smooth things out and avoid the nightmare that can often occur.

 

c) Product Design Consultancy in Asia

Asian countries have made a great leap forward. Previously known for cheap low-cost goods they have climbed up the ladder. Apple’s iPhone and iPad, for example, are produced in Shenzhen, a manufacturing hub just across the border from Hong Kong.

So why not have your product designed and produced in Asia? Well, there are some drawbacks. Intellectual Property is one big concern. However, if you work with a company registered in Hong Kong (which has a similar legal system as the UK, U.S. and other Anglophone countries) it’s not a big concern.

Communication is also not a big problem anymore. Skype provides free calls and video conferences that make web meetings easy.  It also allows you to share information easily.

An Asian Product Design Consultancy will offer more competitive prices compared to Industrial Designers based in the Western World. And most important, they are right where the action is – in Asia.

Product Designers in Asia are all aware of the manufacturing capabilities of Asian suppliers. Your Product Design House in Asia will do Design to Manufacturing.

And with local staff that understand the culture and speak the language the Product Design Consultancy can work directly with the factory throughout the process to ensure your product is optimized for production.

When choosing your Asian Product Design Consultancy make sure they have their business registered in Hong Kong to protect your Intellectual Property rights.  Another key factor is that they have expatriate staff with a similar cultural background as you. This will allow them to understand your needs better and what you are trying to achieve with your new product. You may not know your new product that well yourself so if you are in need of advice and recommendations throughout the process this is critical.

Happy hunting and if you need any other advice please feel free to get in touch.

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