Frequently Asked Questions . . . FAQ
Our best customers are the ones that ask questions. We love informed customers. So, along with articles in the Library and on The Engineer’s Perspective, we also have answers to these common questions.
In Engineering, questions are often more specific, and some answers just spon more questions. If that’s the case for you, please Contact Us, and let’s talk about your specific project. We’re happy to take a minute to help.
In context of what we do at Synthesis, Engineering Services are tasks, or consulting, or analysis on technical topics; usually to support businesses with product design, product development, failure analysis (forensics), or manufacturing. The list also includes supply chain support, material choices, and process optimization.
Read about many of the Engineering Services we provide on these pages:
- Product Design & Development, and more on Product Development.
- Engineering Consulting, and even more on Consulting Services.
- Custom Machines & Tools, and several examples of Jigs, Fixtures and Custom Machines.
- Innovative Design Solutions, or see Patents we’ve been involved with, or even more on Design Innovation.
We use this term to describe the process of bringing ideas from first concept all the way into production. Every new product starts as an idea which grows and morphs and expands as it develops into a final product. Some products are sold at stores, some solve specific problems, some stay in a factory to make production easier. These all start with ideas and end up as useful things.
This whole evolution from Idea to Product is called The Product Development Process, and there is a lot to it, much more than most people realize. It seems like it should be simple, but there are a lot of details that have to be worked out besides the design.
Learn About It
If this is a path you are on, we hope you are getting good advice and possibly some skilled help. Product development is something Synthesis has been doing for a long time, so let us know if you want some help. We can guide, or help with bigger portions — that’s all up to you.
Can You Show Some Examples?
This is a great question, and we have published a few different pages to answer it (along with the many follow-on questions). Our Engineering Consulting Services page is a great place to start.
The Short Answer: It maximizes your capabilities with short-term, significant expertise.
At Synthesis, we provide value in many activities often labeled “Consulting Services”. These range from phone consultations, to in-depth on-site studies; from solving problems, to failure analysis (Forensics), to design recommendations. It may sound like a lot, but basically, “Consulting Services” are those where we use our knowledge, insight and creativity to help reach your goals.
Can You Show Examples?
We have engineering consulting examples in many areas of the website, but some specific places are: The Slide Show, the Engineering Consulting page, the Consulting Services page, and the Case Studies area of the blog.
Of course, the best way to find out if we can help you is to call us. Ask the direct questions about your situation. If we can assist, then great. If not, that’s OK too.
This is a great question, yet a proper answers depend on your specific project. Here are some guides.
Cost is the single most constraining aspect of Product Development, and it holds back many projects. However, the cost of Engineering is not usually the biggy. It’s not cheap to engineer, prototype, develop, or manufacture, so it’s important to make good decisions all along the way. That’s one place where Synthesis knowledge and experience can help.
Every new project is different, so without details, we can’t guess at the cost for you. However, we constantly see dozens of ways customers pay too much, and in that alone, we can save money. We’ll help you think through options and find ways to minimize this aspect of your new development.
Again, it’s impossible to estimate a project without understanding it. That said, spending money for consulting to streamline your hurdles and accelerate your project puts you ahead in the long run. Also, for shorter projects, it certainly saves money over hiring full-time staff. Read more on cost benefits.
How It Works:
There are many ways to structure relationships, but these are the most common:
- If the project is well defined from beginning to end, we can work on a Firm, Fixed Price. We’ll agree on services and price, then work to that.
- If the project path is not well defined, or if end goals are not definitive, we can work to Time and Materials.
- Custom options are available, and specific to your situation.
Please call to discuss your project and we’ll help with a much better idea on cost numbers.
While we do have a few favorites, the Synthesis paradigm brings innovative thinking beyond traditional boundaries to cross-pollinate many industries. We serve a spectrum of industries by bringing the brilliance of each to all the others.
Do We Serve In Your Industry?
The best way to know is to ask. We welcome questions and comments about industry and how we can best serve you.
Thank you for asking. Buildings, HVAC and other such systems are a specialty in Mechanical Engineering. Unfortunately, we are not trained in the regulations surrounding such systems. Sorry.
Please pardon the pointed and perhaps confronting nature of this answer. We do get similar questions a lot, so it’s important to answer, but depending on your position in the industry, you may find it less than cordial.
The Stamp. People often ask us to ‘Stamp’ their design. While we fully recognize that great designs can come from non-engineering sources, such engineering certifications require a lot of detailed analysis. We do analysis and are happy to review your design, but if your application specifically requires a ‘Stamp’, we’re not the right choice.
Professional Engineers. At Synthesis we believe the concept of having licensed professionals is a worthy endeavor. With engineering specifically, since it touches on so many things of a critical nature, there is a need for such professionals. However, and it is a big however, the way it is fulfilled in our society misses the mark, and not by a little.
We’ve dealt with too many incompetent Professional Engineers, and don’t particularly like the associated reputation. (Obviously, there is more to the story.) Anyway, we don’t have a ‘Stamp’, don’t want a ‘Stamp’, and don’t do the work requiring one. That said, creative thinking, innovation, problem solving, common sense, troubleshooting and most design & product development does not require a ‘Stamp’.
This is a fantastic position, and though the path for every new idea is a little different, the general directions are similar. To answer the host of questions that inventions bring, start by reading The Product Development Process, all the pages, and The Inventor’s Lab.
Then, if you are planning to make a business out of your new product idea, we have some helpful tips in the article Keep Your Startup Out Of The Sand.
First, we congratulate you. Harnessing creativity is not something everyone is able to do, so that’s awesome.
Second, the need for a patent is driven by these questions. 1, Will you sell or licensing the invention? Or, 2, is it big enough and worth enough to justify spending quite a bit of money acquiring the patent? Oh, and 3, Do you have the money for it?
Patents can be a huge financial sink, and just because you get a patent does not mean no one will copy. Patents are only as good as your pockets are deep. Yes, if someone does violate your patent, you have the right to go after them, but that can be very costly.
Most importantly, seek the guidance of a Patent Attorney.
A patent is not the end of the discussion about new products or even about competitive advantage. We help customers deal with this situation a lot, and there are many considerations — too much to print in this small space. Please, follow this link for the complete answer.
Excellent question. However, answers are not as simple as the questions. It depends on the kind of prototype (fabric, steel, plastic, . . .), and the purpose of developing a prototype (functional prototype, show-n-tell, . . .).
Often this question is asked by someone that wants a 3D print, but does not have a CAD model. 3D printing does require a 3D CAD model, and yes, we can help you with that.
Other kinds of prototypes may or may not require CAD work. Please give us a call and we’ll help you figure it out.
Believe it or not, we get this question a lot. New inventors in particular are very keen for the success of their new product, and often end up stymied by the cost of both development and production. We certainly sympathize with this situation, because we’ve been there.The short answer is YES, but that is tempered by many factors including the fact that we just don’t have the resources to provide free help for everyone. To address this concern, we have a process and policy to guide us. In general, we have one such arrangement going, so when we finish it, we are open for another. For now, contact us if you have something specific to discuss. In the meantime, please read this article about policy and decisions.
Actually, we have a bunch of tips and answers to questions about trailers — and about building all sorts of stuff. The focus is Do-It-Yourself, but the Mechanics Post on Mechanical Elements is full of great ideas.
Questions are good, and we’re listening. Please feel free to ask by dropping us a line on the Contact Us page, and we’ll respond as quickly as practical.
Thank you for visiting.