Machineart Industrial Design provides new product design and development services for corporations, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. The experience we’ve gained working over the course of 25 years in a diverse number of product categories enables us to understand the problems to be solved and the process required to reach your goals.
Industrial design marries the logical and the intuitive in the process of realizing a product that works, is easy to use, economical to produce, desirable to buy, and an aesthetic pleasure to use. Projects range in scale and complexity from creative visualization studies that provide fresh insight in support of a company’s internal activities, to full product development programs that also include part engineering, prototyping, and production sourcing. We tailor a project to accommodate whatever the need may be. Additional services include user interface design, product graphics, and packaging design.
What To Look For In a Design Firm…some simple guidelines
Each firm’s work has its own visual flavor and you should like what you see. Because design is central to the appeal of what you will be selling, the visual character of the firm’s work should appeal to you first. Even if your kind of product is not represented in the firm’s body of work, if you like the rest of it, you will like what you get.
It is an advantage if a design firm already has experience with your kind of business, but it’s not essential to being able to develop creative, appropriate solutions. In fact, less knowledge is often an advantage when innovating because “how it’s always been done” doesn’t become a handicap. While it is human nature to want the security of knowing that a design firm already understands your business, it should not be the overriding factor when making a decision. An exception to that rule is products in technically specialized industries, such as surgical tools or automobiles, where the learning curve can be steep. For the most part, a good firm will give you good work even though your kind of product may not appear in its portfolio.
The range of services offered varies from one firm to another and it is important to find the right mix for your needs. Some clients, like entrepreneurs, may need full service support from market research, concept development, engineering, prototyping and testing through to sourcing a manufacturing partner. Others, like established corporations, may only need new concept creation to supplement work underway internally. The biggest design firms work soup to nuts as policy, while smaller firms are more flexible in the kinds of projects they take on.
Machineart is small enough to be flexible but seasoned enough to know that short cuts do not work. In order to deliver what is defined at the outset, certain steps need to be taken regardless of the scope of the project.
The head of a design firm generally introduces its capabilities and body of work to the client in an introductory presentation. After the start of work the size of the firm will determine to what extent the Principal can be involved on an ongoing basis. The larger the firm, the more likely it will be that a Design Director or Project Manager will become the day-to-day contact. In a smaller firm, the Principal is more likely to be involved in the project on a managerial level, if not also in the design effort.
Machineart is a consultancy whose Principal, Andrew Serbinski, personally manages each project and is responsible to the client for the quality of the deliverables. Staff designers are briefed on all the projects underway and can stand-in whenever necessary to serve a client’s needs.
The product design process requires the collaboration of many kinds of people and can have its moments of stress along with the joys of accomplishment. We all prefer to work with people we like so, other factors being equal, personal chemistry and a compatible attitude can be the deciding factors.
Our philosophy is that, “we can’t do it for you – we can only do it with you”. Our role is to help guide a client through the creative “fuzzy front end” of product design and be an advocate for quality execution in the effort to build brand value. We do not “demand” that only our course be followed, however. Our attitude is to be co-operative and respectful of the client’s needs while always steering effort toward quality results.
Ideally, the design firm would be around the corner so you could drop by with a coffee to go over ideas. If that is not possible, distance is less a hindrance to communication today than ever before. Nevertheless, a firm that’s no more than a half-day away will reduce the cost of getting together at key points. Most communication about drawings and 3D CAD files is easily handled via e-mail, while physical model evaluation does require getting together. Machineart is located in western New Jersey 1 hour 15 minutes away by car from both New York City and Philadelphia. The area is served by Newark Airport, Lehigh Valley International Airport, and Trenton Airport.
Cost of Services
The cost of a project is estimated based upon a pre-defined scope of work broken down into phases at hourly rates for the time needed to execute the project. A detailed proposal is written explaining the work and deliverables in each phase. Expenses for materials, travel, drawing reproduction and prototype parts are in addition to fees.
The following explains a typical 5 Phase full development process, from research through to production liaison. The actual steps required may be different, depending on the goals of the project.
Phase 1 – Information Gathering
The first thing we need to know is what is the problem to be solved? What are the goals and expectations, the competitive analysis, the user needs, the technology, the cost targets, the schedule, the brand statement? If a client does not have all the information, we can help get it. We’ll look at the design trends as they apply to the product category and write a project requirements document that will become the development roadmap.
Certain projects require ethnographic and behavioral science research to gather enough data to be able to define user needs, wants and innovation opportunities. To undertake this level of research Machineart works with a specialist partner company, Innovation Focus.
Phase 2 – Concept Development
Here is where the design requirements begin to take shape. Designers’ free flow of ideas begin to take on characteristics that can be defined in words and lead to a series of distinct concepts. Rough mock-ups are made to test physical relationships, volumes, and forms. The first presentation is typically a combination of 2D renderings and rough 3D mock-ups. One or more are selected, revisions made, and presented again for approval.
Phase 3 – Design Development
Once a concept is selected, it has to be translated into real dimensions, function, and feel. In this phase the relationship between parts, how they look, fit, and are assembled, and how they are to be made is modeled in 3D CAD and several iterations of hand-made foam or 3D printed plastic mock-ups are made. Renderings may be made to study colors and graphics. The client deliverable is a plastic mock-up with preliminary CAD drawings.
Phase 4 – Final Design
3D CAD models of the parts are built, then made into rapid prototype parts to check form and fit. Revisions inevitably have to be made. The CAD data is revised and a second or third set of RP parts are made before accuracy can be confirmed and the documentation completed. Color and finish is specified, model identification graphics designed, and artwork made. A final appearance prototype is often made to represent the final product.
Phase 5 – Production Liaison
For certain clients we will help source appropriate manufacturers, get quotes and work with manufacturers during their production engineering to resolve any detail issues and to check first part samples. Machineart works co-operatively with manufacturing partners to achieve the best quality results.
User Needs Research
The collection of information about users’ wants and needs, the environment in which a product will be used, the competition, and design trends for building a foundation for idea exploration.
New Concept Ideation
Opportunities for innovation brainstorming and ideation explored via 2D and 3D sketching.
2D & 3D renderings and mock-ups making to communicate concepts, visual trends, ergonomics, and material and manufacturing possibilities.
Design Language Development
Product brand image is explored and developed into a set of distinctive visual characteristics for application to a whole product line.
The analysis and fitting of products to the user and its use environment.
The presentation of information and navigation within an intelligent device developed to achieve an intuitive user experience and a distinct appearance.
The design of product branding, naming, colors; regulatory and instructional graphics.
3D CAD Modeling and Documentation
Part and assembly modeling and preparation of 2D drawings for production.
Plastic and metal parts design, the making assemblies and detailing for prototyping and production.
Materials Analysis and Selection
Selection of appropriate materials and production processes for best performance, appearance, and cost.
Functional and appearance prototype making using Machineart’s 3D plastic printer. Rapid prototyping of plastic and metal components in various materials sourced from service bureaus.
Painting, finishing and assembly of one or more items for testing and promotional purposes.
Selection of appropriate manufacturers – toolmakers, molders, fabricators, and integrators.
What We Need To Know…before writing a proposal
Product design is a collaborative process that requires a level of comfort between the client and designer. If you are interested in developing a product, please give me a call to talk about what you have in mind. If it seems like a good fit, it will be important to arrange a meeting to discuss the project in person.
In preparation for a meeting I ask that the prospective client prepare a project brief that explains the goals and expectations for the project. Provide as much information as possible – the market opportunity, the competitive analysis, the user needs, the technology, the cost targets, the schedule, the brand statement you wish to make. What is the scope of work needed? Is it to generate fresh concepts in support of an ongoing internal company effort? Is it to develop an new idea to the point of making a “looks-like, works-like” prototype for generating investment capital? Will research be required? Do brand identification graphics or a user interface need to be designed?
The cost of the project will depend on the complexity and scope of work. Once I understand the intent, I can write a detailed proposal describing the phases, the deliverables, the estimated schedule and cost of fees and expenses.
Please contact me with any questions about our work or process.
908. 996. 7210 x2