Design and Development Capabilities
Integrated Design Systems is an industrial product design and product development firm with expertise in designing the physical embodiment of a product based on its ergonomics, aesthetics, function, and manufacturing ease.
Our founder is a respected industry expert in designing plastic products with the optimum choice of plastic materials and processes to match each client’s investment budget, anticipated production requirements, and product costs. Our clients praise us for our high level of creativity, aesthetics, product branding, and an innate ability to create designs which match their market requirements.
Extensive IDS capabilities include:
Most projects require some level of research, from a few hours, to weeks or even months. We may need to conduct product design interviews and travel to various facilities to meet potential users, note their preferences for product development, and understand their concerns, especially for medical products. During our visits, we may identify potential improvements in the manufacturing process by eliminating parts and simplifying assembly steps, or just improving quality.
We always need to determine if:
- We’re creating a completely new product for an existing or a new market. These are typically the most exciting and most interesting, though they may be the most expensive to produce.
- We’re designing a product aesthetic and functional update. This involves a contemporary look for an existing product, a concept rendering, or a complete production-ready design.
- We’re considering a product functionality / quality/ cost reduction improvement. These engineering projects are focused on improving performance or lowering costs to comply with specifications.
Initial concepts typically start after our research has been completed – on cocktail napkins, envelopes, paper scraps, computers, and whatever’s handy. This is a critical portion of the overall project, precipitating the seeds from which all subsequent phases of development are based. This step requires a combination of practical and imaginative thinking. Concepts are conceived in the mind and developed with a range of mediums, ranging from pencil sketches, clay, foam, wood, mechanical components, conversations, or any appropriate material.
Our emphasis on concept product development typically requires us to shed all preconceptions and explore ideas which elegantly satisfy the maximum number of design objectives. Whether the product design is exciting, unique, or totally unexpected, we strive to capture its essence by conveying its form, function and corporate culture. Plus, our design philosophy is based on a seamless transition of development steps starting with an initial idea and finishing with a perfect high-quality production device.
After we’ve developed enough concepts to comfortably select the best, we often summarize and present them to our clients for their evaluation and input. One or two ideas are usually selected for further development, then refined again with a higher level of detail, including product size, application and function. In some instances, we may focus on color treatments and graphics. Handheld products and those primarily driven by functioning cost may require structural analysis to minimize material usage and maximize strength and reliability.
During the concept refinement stage, we will often refine design concepts with CAD models, foamcore models, 3-D printed models and functional mechanical prototypes to verify basic design direction. Our objective is to refine the selected design concept to a level sufficient for us to confidently develop the design into a production-ready product without many significant changes to its appearance.
Successfully transforming a design concept into a fully functional, reliable product design requires exceptional engineering skills across a variety of disciplines. The diverse portfolio of products accumulated by Integrated Design Systems has enabled us to solve problems in areas including fluids, pressures, stresses, materials selection, fatigue analysis, heat transfer, and radiation. In fact, many projects we’ve designed are structurally analyzed by applying computer simulation technology to evaluate performance based on designs and loading conditions.
Our team frequently specifies test procedures and conditions to verify product performance based on specifications. Prototypes are specially designed to cost-effectively represent the final product based on materials, loads, temperatures, and even chemical exposure. Mechanical assemblies are also frequently tested to verify performance and functionality well before the design is completed.
Compared to other product development firms, our major engineering advantages when compared to other product development firms encompass multidisciplinary engineering, highly creative engineering solutions, a comprehensive knowledge of plastics materials, the ability to develop realistic prototypes cost-effectively and quickly, identifying critical product performance parameters, progressively testing and verifying designs. We’ve found that integrating engineering, industrial design and product design at every level of development leads to reliable, high-quality products that become market leaders.
This is the most critical of any phase in design development, so we follow a continuous process of detailed checks and balances throughout the entire course of action. The number of variables and considerations associated with designing for manufacturing (DFM) are extensive and extremely complex. Often the most trivial oversight could result in catastrophic problems associated with product recalls, litigation, and significant costly production delays.
Production detailing also requires in-depth knowledge of the technologies, benefits and limitations of each manufacturing process, from the equipment and the secondary operations, to the molds and the tolerances, to quality concerns such as warpage distortion and shrinkage, as well as the consistency and manufacturing which affects quality.
Although 3-D CAD technology has revolutionized product design, designers must still understand the nuances and methods associated with the manufacturing processes they have specified for their individual parts. Although every product development manufacturing process has industry standards, we believe designers must become partners with their vendors during the early stages of development to assure a seamless transition from CAD design to a finished high-quality production product. This design philosophy and cooperative development is at the core of our thinking and integral to the production detailing phase of design.
Prototyping & Testing
Before a design is released for production, it’s often tested and evaluated based on a set of performance criteria derived from product specifications established during the Phase 1 research. Prototypes are created from any number of fabrication options which are best suited for the specific evaluation and testing.
In particular, rapid prototyping is the most frequently selected option because of low cost, precision, and most importantly, speed of delivery. Today, the choice among the numerous available rapid prototyping technologies is based on the method which best satisfies the specific application.
Often, prototypes must be tested based on specific plastic materials which requires parts to be CNC machined or injection-molded using prototype molds. Sheet-metal prototypes, machined metal parts as well as large fabricated plastic prototypes have all been utilized at one time or another during our product development. Our extensive experience provides our team with a highly efficient and cost-effective pathway to verifying the most complex and challenging product design problems.
The devil is in the details, and the details are often voluminous––especially for medical products. Production documents are typically limited to critical dimensions since production parts of fabricated directly from our CAD files. We attempt to minimize the number of critical dimensions to enable quick, efficient, and easy inspection of parts. Identifying and dimensioning particular features which are critical to the form fit and function of a part requires a complete understanding of how that part must be integrated into an entire system of components comprising the product.
Point in fact: We often include a number of assembly drawings which typically contain exploded views illustrating how complex assemblies are to be assembled. Notes include special instructions for applying adhesives, torque levels for screws, placement of labels, and other procedures that are of critical important to the overall performance of the product in development.
Our extensive experience provides us with many advantages for production coordination with our clients over our worthy competitors, from small to multi-national product design firms. Because we’ve worked with hundreds of plastic products, our strict rule of thumb is that a product can only be considered ready for production release after it has been thoroughly tested and verified as inspected from first article production samples.
Virtually every project has required our expertise during production startup to pinpoint the root cause of problems commonly encountered during this final phase of product development. These problems become especially challenging with plastic parts which typically tend to shrink, warp, or distort unpredictably, causing subtle and visibly imperceptible changes in geometry to create assembly problems. Production-related considerations which affect part quality cost and yields include countless design considerations which we have accounted for throughout the design and development cycle. Our design methodology strives to maintain production consistency, high-yield rates, and manufacturing techniques optimally suited to chosen vendors.