Frequently Asked Questions . . . FAQFrequently Asked Questions @ Synthesis

Our best customers are the ones that ask questions.  So, along with articles in the Library and The Engineer’s Perspective, here are answers to some common questions.

In Engineering, questions are often specific, and some answers just spon more questions.  If that’s the case, please Contact Us, and let’s talk about your specifics.  We’re happy to take a minute.


  • 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:

  • 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?

    We have product development examples of our work all over the website, but some specific places to look are:  The Portfolio (Slide Show), and the Case Studies area of the blog.

  • 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.

    Read more about Leveraging Your Resources and about Engineering Consulting through Synthesis.

  • 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.

    Product Development:

    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:

    1. 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.
    2. If the project path is not well defined, or if end goals are not definitive, we can work to Time and Materials.
    3. 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.

    See the Design Slide Show and the engineering Case Study Examples for a perspective.

    The Full Answer to this question along with examples from some of our favorite industries are highlighted in This Post — from our blog, The Engineer’s Perspective.

    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.

  • This is an important question, because we do get variations of it a lot.  It’s also appropriate to answer.  However, depending on your position in industry, you may find the response a little pointed.  We apologize.

    Engineering Certifications:

    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.

    Professional Engineers.  It is unfortunate, but through our work we’ve dealt with too many incompetent Professional Engineers (PE), and don’t like the associated reputation.  (Obviously, there is more to the story.)  It’s difficult, but it seems the system is made to harbor incompetence mixed in among the really good engineers.

    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’.  In those areas, we are happy to help.

    Can You Certify My Design?

    People often ask us to ‘Stamp’ their design.  While we fully recognize that great designs often come from non-engineering sources, such engineering certifications do require a lot of detailed analysis.  We do analysis, and we are happy to review your design, but if your application specifically requires a ‘Stamp’ or ‘Certification’, we’re not the right choice.

  • 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 can 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 the money to acquire a 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.

    Recommended Reading

    I recommend you read two articles specifically about patents — this one first, then this one.

    Most importantly, seek the guidance of a Patent Attorney.

  • A patent is not the end of 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 here.  Please, follow this link for the complete answer.

  • Excellent question.  However, answers are not as simple.  It depends on the kind of prototype (fabric, steel, plastic, . . .), and the purpose for the 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 with that.

    Other kinds of prototypes may or may not require CAD work.  Please contact us and we’ll help you figure it out.

    Recommended Reading

    You can read a bunch more prototyping in the Product Development Process article — the section on Prototypes.  And, we are happy to help with specifics if you Contact Us.

  • At Synthesis, we use both Pro/Engineer and SolidWorks in house.  That said, for most situations the actual software is not so important, since most CAD programs interact and will read the common formats.  Please Give Us A Call if you have specific questions.

  • 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 Helps and much more about trailers — and about building all sorts of stuff.  The focus is Do-It-Yourself at the Mechanics Post on Mechanical Elements.  It is full of great information and ideas. is a DIY web portal.  It’s a website for Trailer Plans and much more, and it’s supported as part of Synthesis.  Read the Mechanical Elements About page for more info.

More Questions?

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.