Design Principles Every Commercial Product Should Follow
From the initial concept all the way to mass manufacturing, bringing a new product to market is a long and exhaustive process. It can take years to see your idea come to life, and even then you may never be able to secure a corner of the market for yourself. Giving all of these challenges, anyone with the hopes of launching a successful product should be preoccupied with trying to improve their odds of success as much as possible.
One of the ways you can improve your odds is by implementing Design for Manufacturing (DFM) principles early in your product's life. Following these will ensure that your product can be mass-produced with as little effort as possible, which can save you a lot of time and money once your product reaches the manufacturing stage.
Here are some DFM principles every new product should follow.
1 - Limit the number of parts
There is no getting around it. The more different parts a product has, the harder it is to manufacture. Each new additional part also becomes a new point of potential failure, which could increase the frequency in which you need to revise your manufacturing process and recall shipped products.
You don't want to remove so many parts that your product becomes a featureless sphere, but you should keep in mind that - as a general rule - minimalism makes manufacturing easier.
2 - Use standards in your favor
There is no need to invent new bottles, cans, bolts, or screws to create a new product. All of those fundamental building blocks have already been created and standardized decades ago, and the more you can rely on standards that already exist, the easier it'll be to bring your product to market. Whenever you do decide to use a customized part, you should have a very clear idea of the costs you're accepting, and the benefits you'll get in return.
3 - Favor interlocking designs
A product that clips together with ease is generally easier to manufacture. Early on in the design process, try to favor ideas that don't rely on screws, adhesives, or fasteners. Screws, for example, are very cheap in terms of material, but they add a lot of labor requirements. Both in terms of assembling the items you're manufacturing, and in requiring more quality control to make sure every little screw is bolted correctly.
4 - Bring experts in early
While there is a lot you can do to learn about DFM on your own, at the end of the day, successful products are rarely ever designed by a single person. You'll need experts in various fields - from marketing to engineering - to get involved so they can help bring your product to life.
And while no one can dispute the importance of advertisement and market research, make sure you place engineers on your priorities list as well. The sooner you get product designers and manufacturing specialists involved in a project, the easier it is for them to find ways to optimize your product.