Planning Ahead: The Next Step in the Product Development Life Cycle

With an optimized design previously validated with prototyping, a product development team will be looking towards the next step in product development. Typically, the next phase includes specifying and planning the course of action to get their product to market. Good planning enables teams to take advantage of the best resources available and aligns manufacturing demands and in-house capabilities.

In this planning stage, the team must consider which materials and manufacturing methods are best for the product’s application. By sourcing well, they’ll orchestrate the best way to get their product to market on-time and at the lowest possible cost.

In the early stages of planning, concept models may be used to facilitate feedback from managers and stakeholders. Materials and manufacturing methods may also be tested through functional prototyping. 

product development

Choosing Manufacturing Methods

One of the first considerations to prepare for manufacturing is to assess how much work can be done in-house and how much should be outsourced? A service provider with decades of experience, significant manufacturing capabilities and large capacities can provide significant cost and time savings.

At Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, we work with companies to provide the best in advanced manufacturing services, including 3D printing technologies, like FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), and conventional manufacturing methods, like CNC Machining and Injection Molding.

The differences between these manufacturing methods can influence parts significantly. There is no single process that is well-suited for every application, so it’s important to give consideration to application needs, functionality and durability. Sometimes there are several competing requirements, but top priorities should drive product development teams to decide on the most compatible manufacturing technology.

product development

Picking Materials

Another major consideration in the planning phase of product development is selecting the right material for the product. Engineers need to choose a material that corresponds with the key characteristics needed for the application. These characteristics include desired end-product aesthetics, production functionality and certifications like biocompatibility, sterilization capabilities and flame retardancy.

Once engineers and designers have determined the mechanical or aesthetic characteristics, Stratasys Direct’s Material Wizard filters requirements through a comprehensive material catalogue. By choosing key characteristics and adjusting the material property sliders to specific measurements, designers can identify the best material for their product.

Testing & Functional Prototyping

Sometimes additional functional testing is required in order to validate material choices and manufacturing methods. Functional prototypes made with FDM, DMLS or Laser Sintering (LS) technologies, and their large assortment of thermoplastic and metal materials, are perfect for tough environmental testing.

Product teams can prove out and perfect their designs in rigorous testing scenarios with tough 3D printed prototypes. Designers can also correct errors and improve designs. Functional prototypes can even mimic the product with living hinges and over-molds so that it operates like the end product. These prototypes also allow engineers to incorporate internal features, embed measurement equipment and utilize lightweight materials for tough testing, such as wind tunnel testing.

concept modelsConcept Modeling

The planning stage may be the most optimal time to facilitate feedback from executives and key stakeholders. Concept models come in handy when it comes time to display the new product in full aesthetics and end-product feel. These models are also a cost-effective way to market research the product. Stratasys Direct offers PolyJet, Stereolithography (SL) and FDM as ideal technologies for cosmetic, large and light-weight concept models.

Aligning with Market Demands

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is your teammate as you plan your next product. We offer our expertise and years of experience to help businesses make informed decisions on the best possible manufacturing methods and materials for their projects. After establishing a solid plan of action, the development team will move into the production stage.

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