Design Innovation in Tools

Engineering Services - Design Innovation

If  DESIGN  is "the art or action of conceiving of and producing a plan . . ." *

And,  INNOVATION  is "something new or different . . . ;  the introduction of new things or methods." *

Then together,  Design Innovation  describes the Synthesis Approach.

Definitions of Design & Innovation

What is the Value of Innovation?

Over the last half century, there is a drastic increase in using words like "Innovation" and "Creativity".  In some engineering arenas, the mantra of "Innovate or Die" has become common, because our society is moving to expect new and better product versions year after year.

Design Innovation DetailsThe value proposition of Innovation includes Happy Customers, Excitement in the Market, Greater Sales Potential, Increased Opportunity for Growth, and Product Differentiation.  All of these things drive better business and greater profits to those who innovate.

Yes, Innovation is one extremely good way for a business to positively stand-out in the marketplace.

Secondly, innovation leading to patents has the side effect of increasing company value by establishing a competitive advantage.  Not all innovation is patentable, but when a company offers a product protected by patent(s), it makes competitors jump through hoops to compete.  New patents say "Design Innovation", and the Intellectual Property increases company value.

Getting There

Perhaps as a business owner you feel the pressure of customers waiting for a new version of your product?  Maybe you have some great ideas in the back of your mind, but lack the time to develop them?

Or, as you look at production levels, perhaps you wonder how you can increase throughput?  Or maybe you need ways to relieve product cost pressures?

One simple step to getting there is leveraging your abilities with outsourced expertise.  Design Innovation and Creative Engineering are often the keys to breaking through barriers.  This is where Synthesis may help.  Of course, there are limitations, but we help customers every day by creatively thinking beyond the "box".

Design Innovation. Really?

Patent of Design InnovationSometimes in conversation it seems a little egotistical to say "We Are Innovators."  In some audiences words like "Innovation" or "Creativity" are heard as trite, overused marketing fluff.  We understand, yet at the same time, this really is what we do.  Perhaps a look at our Patents contribution . . . 80+ . . . illustrates the point?

The Design Slide Show also has many examples of design innovation.  Yet, we don't say it to brag, rather to emphasize the truth in proclaiming we are Innovators.

Experience shows that most business owners have a good perspective on their next needs.  -  Whether an update to an existing widget, a totally new product line, or a custom machine to streamline activities.  Experience also shows many businesses feel they lack the time, specific talent, or other resources for that next step.  That is where freelance design and engineering are a perfect fit.

The Ideal Situation

The ideal project for Synthesis is one where a need is identified, but there are questions in finding the best solution to conquer it.  This may be in a product design area, or in a manufacturing environment.  Presentation of the need is usually all it takes to start the wheels turning.

We prefer to work closely with customers, because we view you as the expert in the field.  We bring broad experience with technical and innovative thinking, but we don't know your business like you do.  By working together, we become greater than the parts, and cool things happen.

A Few Design Innovation Examples

Spinner Aeris with Titanium Crown


Several years ago while working with a bicycle suspension company, I was approached with a question: "Can you build a 1kg suspension fork?"

Working with their engineers, that question began a stream of activity and design innovation yielding the Aeris - the lightest weight hydraulic fork in the world.

At just 1.1kg, the Aeris was successfully raced to a USAC Mountain Bike Marathon National Championship.  We did not quite hit the 1kg mark, but the accomplishment speaks for itself.

Now, due to cost concerns with the Titanium crown it is no longer available in that form.  Yet, as far as I know, even after so many years, this is still the lightest, full-function mountain bike fork.

Fire Damper Latch Innovation


On another occasion, a fire systems company asked for a latch mechanism to use with their ventilation fire dampers.  The system gives instant release to close ventilation ducts when a fire is present.  Yes, there are several such devices already on the market, but this new addition has specific improvements to make it easier for inspectors to get in and validate function.

The result is a simple device serviceable from either side in the ducting.  The design innovation is a simple, robust clip that allows quick installation and removal.  And, it withstands any fire.

As a follow on, the company also requested the design of a special tool to assist inspectors.  The tool allows them to hold and operate the ventilation fire dampers to assure proper function.  Now, inspectors can do the work without trying to lift and lower dampers in the awkward positions they are often in.

More Examples?  Well, OK . . .

CAD Design For Spark


A couple years before Star Wars Episode 1 came out, a toy company representative gave me a photo of what would become known as the Sith Infiltrator.  He said, "We have to make this actually fly."

Movies are great at making it seem like spacecraft can come in and out of atmosphere and fly just fine - which is awesome as part of the fantasy.  However, the design of this ship is more like a rock than an aircraft.  But hey!, accepting the challenge is part of the fun.

It was a group effort with their designers, but we made it fly - along with several others including the Naboo Starfighter, and the Trade Federation Battleship.  We also made them manufacturable.

Design For Mold Split


One more.  The image shows a special section of ducting (blue part) for a current military aircraft.  At first glance it does not seem so convoluted, but this was presented with a request to design a mold for it.

It took some design innovation in thinking, and it required approval of a small (0.02") deviation to accomplish it with a single mold split (no slides or extra mold inserts).

Too bad the images make it look so simple and easy.  That is the perfect scenario - the "Elegant Solution" (as we like to call it) always seems like it should have been obvious.


Though we won't go into detail here, we have certainly posted about many other design innovation examples.  Just for giggles, check out the Quick Service innovation for a bike rack.  Or consider the innovation of Prototyping Foam.  How about Drivetrain Innovation in the bicycle industry.  Or Innovation in Presentation for artistic design in the automotive accessories industry.  Finally, creative combinations for Trailer Suspension.

All of these represent thinking out of the ordinary to accomplish extraordinary goals.  That is what we do.

We have worked on hundreds of projects, and that is not an exaggeration.  Some projects we can talk about, some we cannot (for confidentiality reasons).

That said, more examples are at Custom Machines, and several Freelance Design examples are in the Slide Show.  We even have a section of The Engineer's Perspective for several Case Studies.  These look at various engineering service examples, including design innovation, in much more detail.  Feel free to check them out.

Design Innovation For Hire

One of our Core Areas of Expertise is Design Innovation.  At Synthesis we design, create, and invent - for many years.  It is just part of who we are.

If you have needs for thinking beyond the proverbial "box", we are just a call away.  If your needs include freelance assistance, we are here.  We invite you to connect, to discuss your projects, and to see if we can help.

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