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Industrial Design Support

Why you need help with your industrial design
A client, such as an inventor, hardware startup, or SME, typically comes to us with questions about their product designs as they are not sure how to make it with the features they want, within their budget, and without quality issues.

Our clients have typically first worked with a designer who defined the initial look and functionality of the product. However, they are not sure if manufacturing their product based on their design is even possible at all, or if all important considerations have been taken into account.

There are virtually always several solutions, but we find that the best is often to go with the simplest one (which is also usually cheaper and more reliable, too), at least for the first version of a totally new product.

What is Sofeast’s Industrial Design Support solution?
You will work with our impartial design experts who have vast experience in manufacturing in China, and a deep understanding of what is and is not possible here in terms of materials and processes.

Ultimately, our product design experts work with you from the design stage to get you closer to where you need to be: Mass production.

We will sign an NDA and then examine your designs and product information with a view to
providing in-depth feedback.

We will give you insight into possible improvements that will help you to provide a better product for consumers/users and to manufacture it within budget, on time, and at the right quality standard.

We will research what is actually possible in China (manufacturing, components) and report back to you the ‘achievability’ of your project based on availability of resources here.

Why choose this solution?
This solution will help in your new product development process, especially if you have become stuck at the design stage or have failed to get your new product off the ground before when trying to manufacture it in China.

Many of our clients worked with a design firm, or with a freelance designer, who are not very experienced with China manufacturing, or who are not familiar with some materials or processes. This leaves them with a design that is just not compatible with the ‘reality’ to be found in China.

In addition, relying on Chinese suppliers for the type of analysis & recommendation that we offer in this solution generally does not return the same value, since they will always orient you towards what suits their own particular agenda, abilities, and experience.

For example, a design review, or a prototyping iteration, might point to necessary changes that suppliers might not suggest. Remember, suppliers want to go as fast as possible into mass production, as that’s when they collect payment. Analysis and improvements are usually not their primary objective.

As an illustration, here is a situation we have encountered numerous times. You may suggest a design feature of material that is perfectly achievable in your design, but the Chinese supplier you’re speaking with will tell you that it’s ‘impossible’ simply because they do not have the experience and/or equipment to fulfill your design.

Suppliers may also push you towards certain design changes, using features or materials that they can provide more easily, to the detriment of your product’s quality perception and/or functionality.

Protecting your IP is crucial and we never share your proprietary designs with other parties without your prior approval — note that unscrupulous local businesses engage in that type of sharing every day. We encourage having us sign a binding NDA before even seeing your designs, and are happy to provide a template for you to use should you require it.

Protecting your IP

Intellectual property protection is something we take very seriously when developing and manufacturing a new product with clients, so for more information on that read:

Who is this solution suitable for?
Inventors, hardware startups, or SMEs who are developing their own product, but are not familiar with how to improve their designs and get from the design stage to subsequent prototyping, certification, and production.

Especially good for companies or individuals who are stuck having dealt with Chinese agents or suppliers before with no success.

Read more about the danger of developing your custom product with an ODM factory.

What activities make up the new product industrial design support solution?
You’ll be provided with an initial consultation following requesting this solution if you qualify as a good fit.

Following this, here are the typical stages an industrial design support project follows:

new product industrial design support process

Let’s look in more detail at some of the stages:

  • Understand the design intent
    What does the inventor or designer want to achieve?
    We’ll ask you a lot of questions about the product, such as: “What features it has, impression it should have on users, what distribution channel is used, what cost level (non-recurring engineering, unit cost), timeline, what compliance requirements, and more.”
  • Examine the concept
    Review the design files or mockups (if any) already prepared
    See how it aligns with design intent, address potential issues with client.
  • Study options available in China
    Many people come to us with a very specific need that most Chinese component suppliers don’t want to, or can’t, do. We’ll find out what’s truly possible.
  • Propose improvements that align better with design intent
    Indicate the impact of these improvements on costing (tooling…), compliance, and timelines.
  • Delve deeper into the design (e.g. block diagram) to confirm it is manufacturable at the right cost and without quality issues
    For example, we would run mechanical simulations to find probable weaknesses of a design, adding tolerances that make sense.

How is it reported?
Your design expert will consult via phone and will follow up with phone calls and emails at relevant intervals when progress has been made or they have questions for you.

How much does industrial design support cost?
US$45 per hour with the first hour for free* (*for qualified clients)

Ready to get started with an industrial design support project?

Click here to request a quote and get your industrial design support project started

Next steps following industrial design support:

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