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.
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.
The value proposition of Innovation includes Happier 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.
Yes, Innovation is one big 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.
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 but lack the time to contain them? Or, as you look at production levels, you wonder how you can increase throughput? Or perhaps you need ways to relieve cost pressures?
Design Innovation. Really?
Sometimes in conversation it seems egotistical to say “We Are Innovators.” In some audiences words like “Innovation” or “Creativity” are heard as trite, overused descriptors. We understand, and at the same time, this really is what we do. Perhaps a look at our Patents contribution . . . 60+ . . . illustrates the point. The Design Slide Show also has many examples of design innovation. However, 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 as 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’s where a freelance design and freelance engineering are a perfect fit.
The Ideal Situation
The ideal project for Synthesis is one where a need is identified, but there is question 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 they are the experts 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 Couple Freelance Design Innovation Examples:
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 string of activity and design innovation yielding the Aeris — the lightest weight hydraulic fork in the world. At just 1.1kg, and it was successfully raced to a USAC Mountain Bike Marathon National Championship. We didn’t 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 many years, that is still the lightest, full-function mountain bike fork.
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, yet very robust, clip that allows quick installation and removal. And, it withstands fire.
As a follow on, the company also requested the design of a special tool to hold and operate the ventilation fire dampers while inspectors work with them.
More Examples? Well, OK . . .
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 fly.”
Movies are great at making it seem like space craft can come in and out of atmosphere and fly just fine — it’s part of the fantasy. However, the design of this ship is more like a rock than an aircraft. But hey!, accepting the challenge is awesome.
It was a group effort with their engineers and designers, but we made it fly — along with several others including the Naboo Starfighter, and the Trade Federation Battleship. We also made them manufacturable.
One more. The image shows a special section of ducting 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’s the perfect scenario — the elegant solution always seems like it should have been obvious.
Though we won’t go into details here, we’ve certainly posted about several other design innovation examples. Just for giggles, check out the Quick Service innovation for a bike rack. Or consider innovation for 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’s what we do.
We have worked on hundreds of projects, and that’s not an exaggeration. Some projects we can talk about, some we cannot. 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 Case Studies. These look at various engineering service examples, including design innovation, in much more detail. Please check them out.
Design Innovation For Hire
One of our Core Areas of Expertise is Design Innovation. If you have needs for thinking beyond the proverbial “box”, we’re just a call away. If your needs include freelance assistance, we’re here. We invite you to connect, to discuss your projects, and to see if we can help.