Do customers have infeasible product ideas?
We are regularly contacted by clients who have a product idea but no expertise in product design. These ideas have often been born in everyday situations when facing a problem for which no existing product on the market seems to offer a solution. But have we ever been approached by a client with an infeasible product idea – or do such even exist?
The short answer is “no.” For sure, sometimes an idea might be infeasible in its original format, but that does not mean it could not be made feasible. Infeasible is defined as “something that is not possible to do easily or conveniently; impracticable.” However, whether or not something is considered infeasible may even depend on the perspective. In product development, the feasibility of a product idea may depend on factors like manufacturability, usability, or market demand. For this reason, designing a new product often starts with a so-called feasibility study.
The idea clarifies along the design process
Even though an idea is not easily and instantly possible to implement, it doesn’t automatically make it infeasible. Especially when it comes to new products, it is ordinary that ideas are wild and that many cool features are wanted in the product. This is only positive because many “basic things” have already been invented. In such cases, the new and striking idea might be the factor that leads to something revolutionary.
When designing something entirely new, the final execution and details of the product typically crystallise during the design process. In consequence, some of the initially desired features are no longer considered relevant, and they may be replaced by more suitable ones. At the same time, the scope of manufacturing costs starts taking shape, which might require giving up some features. An excellent example of this is the car industry: at car exhibits, the manufacturers display new futuristic car models with pompous designs and innovative technologies, but when the car ends up in production, the final product is typically much more subtle and practical.
A wild idea challenges the designer
However, sometimes a wild and peculiar idea is “the thing.” In these cases, the designer has to use their creativity to be able to implement the idea with moderate costs and existing manufacturing methods. Typically, the individual areas of the design seem simple and easy, but handling the big picture is more challenging. For example, the large size of a specific component might make the assembly of another a challenge.
The best result is often achieved by making small compromises between alternative execution possibilities. In practice, this means identifying the pros of different alternatives and building a new solution based on them. This may mean combining several manufacturing methods and material choices or using existing components.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that there are no infeasible ideas. New ideas always require more or less cultivation, and for this job, we have numerous tools and plenty of expertise.
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