Nashville & Middle Tennessee Provider of Custom Engineering Services
Our team has a diverse set of skills and many years of experience. We have addressed a number of challenges both large and small, and across a broad set of applications. We’ve worked on everything from aerospace projects for NASA to consumer products for special needs children. We take on a handful of projects each year in the custom engineering development area.
Our team is made up of entrepreneurial engineers that have both real world engineering experience and academic teaching experience. Our team knows the latest in theory and has applied it in the real world. More importantly, we develop and put in the field our own product line of industrial equipment. This combination allows our clients to get world class engineering support and design at a value price.
Our team has 30 years of combined industry experience crossing many industries including consumer, industrial and commercial markets. Our design team understands that your product must work well and look good. Our designers are also builders and understanding how their work relates to the engineering of the product and make sure the concepts we design are feasible and within your budgets.
Industrial Design Process
Note: we often are asked to do a subset of the activities below.
One unique set of experience we bring to the table is our teams experience with I-Corp. We’ve had multiple members of our team go through the I-Corp program and process. In addition, Professor Canfield has been and even participate in applying the coursework taught at Stanford to broad categories of education. See http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/i-corps/index.jsp
1 – Product Definition
In this Phase our objective is to understand the problem. What are you trying to build, how can the need be turned into a product? This Phase generally focusses solely on research. We want to discover and think about the product attributes and their performance characteristics. Are they designed to match the needs of the end user(s)? Do we know what we need to know? Do we know what we don’t know? A well thought out product definition Phase makes the Ideation Phase more realistic and is more likely to create better products, better suited for the market.
2 – Conceptualization and Ideation
In this Phase, our objective is to generate initial ideas and develop them into viable concepts. Successful products are successfully brainstormed. They do not spring out of whole cloth from the single inspiring idea. Multiple and iterative brainstorming sessions lead to a broad range of innovative concepts. We take these concepts and layer in realistic use cases. Building on these use cases and concepts allows us to come up with a number of feasible concepts. We then compare these concepts in Pugh Chart, a method of winnowing multiple new product concepts (called “controlled convergence”).
3 – Design Development
The objective of this Phase is to refine the top concepts/designs into complete designs. This Phase involves Alpha prototypes. These prototypes are not refined but help prove the core functions of the product can be attained within an approximate form factor. These models are also useful to get initial user feedback for further refinement. Think of it as real world testing with a specialized prototype. These early prototypes will help drive the selection of the final mechanisms, forms, user controls/experience, and functions that will ultimately become the final product.
4 – Refinement and Verification
The objective of this Phase is to create the final design and engineering specifications of the winning concepts. This is where the “Beta” prototype(s) is built. This prototype looks and performs like the final product. The Beta prototype can be used for actual testing in real world conditions (generally simulated). The prototype is tested to verify the operation and performance of the system and it’s individual components. Final CAD databases and drawing packages are completed based on the results of testing and modifications. The final design and engineering specifications can then be used in manufacturing.
5 – Validation, Manufacturing Transfer & Production
This objective of this Phase is to transfer the manufacturing to the manufacturer. We can help clients select and vet a manufacturer. We can then work with the selected manufacturer on (1) dimensioning and tolerancing issues, (2) assembly and process instructions and (3) appropriate changes given the manufacturer’s capabilities. Finally, we can test and validate production models. This may involve testing manufactured parts as well as assembled components or the entire product. Once the process and quality targets are met by the manufacturer, the project concludes, unless we’re asked to do periodic manufacturer testing.