In these last posts I talked a bit about a project we have been working on for almost 4 years now. During the course of that 4 years we have made several versions of this product, changing things when we discovered that the initial concept didn’t quite do what we expected it to.
People can be surprised at the length of time it takes for a product to go from concept, to reality, to a new and better version. In some ways it is like investing, you have to really be in it for the long haul. On the manufacturing side, there are plenty of variables that can affect the length of time it takes to go from the lightening bolt of inspiration to the real world fruition of a project.
I once heard a project co-ordinator say,“Take the amount of time you think it will take, and then double it.” While that is certainly not true for every project, it can hold true for large projects that have many different pieces that need to come together in order to form the whole.
For this project a lot of the time investment came down to this, Real World Function and Testing- If every idea we had worked perfectly from day one, our lives would be so much easier! In truth, prototyping and testing can be a long process of discovery and revision. This product was one that was going to spend its life outdoors in weather of all kinds, and not just outdoors, but getting walked on! With Cleats! Our testing needed to be rigorous and at times the revisions we made were extensive. You can’t know until your product is out in the environment how it will handle the rigors of the real world.
Fortunately, vacuum forming allows for a wide range of design alterations inexpensively and fairly quickly compared to injection molding. We were able to make the necessary changes at each stage of the development as feedback came to us from end users.