How long does it take to design a product?
When a customer who has an idea for a product contacts us, one of the most common things they want to know is how long does it take to design the product. Especially if the product is a commercial product and the intention is to make a profit with it, the customer usually wants to know approximately how much time should be reserved for manufacturing the product and entering it into the market, or, in other words, when they can expect the product to start generating a positive cash flow.
There is no simple answer to this question as the duration of designing a certain product depends on a wide variety of factors. In this blog text, we want to provide insight into the key factors that determine the duration of designing a product, which are:
- Clarity of the concept and specificity of requirements
- Purpose and requirements of the product
- Manufacturing method
- Number and/or complexity of parts
1. Clarity of the concept and specificity of requirements
If the concept and requirements of the product have been carefully mapped at the beginning of the actual planning, the product’s design phase will be much smoother than if the design phase starts with a very vague idea for a product. In the latter case, it is very common for the product’s requirements to be specified only as the design phase advances, when changes have to be made in the design model when periodic reviews are made, which of course makes the design phase longer. The importance of specific requirements in the design phase is covered in detail in our blog text “What information does an engineering office need to be able to design a product“.
2. Purpose and requirements of the product
If the product to be designed is a prototype or an individual product intended to meet an ad hoc need, the design phase is usually a lot shorter than if the product is designed for mass production. The focus of designing a prototype is often on a fast design process, whereas the price and appearance of the final product, for instance, may be secondary. It may only take a few days to design and manufacture products like these.
Products intended for mass production often have an exactly opposite situation in which the costs of manufacturing are a top priority and the appearance of the products is also of higher importance. In practice, the costs of manufacturing depend on, for example, the selected materials, choices regarding the manufacturing method and design technology solutions. It takes a few weeks to a few months to design and manufacture such products.
3. Manufacturing method
As a general rule, designing and/or manufacturing products manufactured with a specific method is faster than with other methods. For example, 3D printing is a fast manufacturing method that produces ready-made products in just a few hours. 3D printing is the best solution for manufacturing small parts and hollow parts under certain conditions.
If the product is designed to be manufactured by aluminum casting or injection molding, various aspects must be considered in the product’s design phase, such as the feed location, generation of pores, locations of ejector pins and surface quality requirements in order to make it possible to manufacture the product with the methods in the first place. Furthermore, designing and manufacturing the molds and test parts requires additional time, which may take several months in total. However, it is worth taking into account that when the mold is ready for use, large quantities of the product can be manufactured at a fast rate and cost-efficiently, so these methods are ideal for mass production.
4. Number and/or complexity of parts
The number of parts used in the product and the complexity of the parts also affect the length of the design phase through various mechanisms. First of all, if the product consists of components, each component must be designed individually, which of course takes time, and fitting the components together also requires additional time, which makes the design process slower than designing a product that consist of only one piece.
Secondly, the layout, materials and dimensions of the components can be very critical for the performance or functionality of the product, for example, so it takes a lot of time to achieve the desired overall solution. Cameras are a good example of a product that has a lot of parts and a complex structure. Designing a product like this is especially challenging as the components must be fitted into a very small space.
So, the answer to the question “How long does it take to design a product?” is “depending on the product, from a few days to a few months”. If you want to know how long it takes to realize your product idea, do not hesitate to contact us so we can go through the nature and requirements of your product together and provide you with an estimate of the timetable and costs of designing your product.
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