It can be difficult to pinpoint the real cost drivers when it comes to manufacturing prototypes.

In many cases, making changes in even the smallest element (something like hinges), can impact the overall cost of the product in dramatic fashion.

Just recently we found another example of this in action, so if your company is grappling with getting prototype production costs under control, you are definitely not alone.

Read more about this remarkable case study highlighting the cost savings benefits of design collaboration in prototype manufacturing.

The ‘Barrel of Monkeys’ Concept in Manufacturing

When creating a prototype, the design is naturally going to undergo a number of changes. However, when you change one thing, it often affects another part of the product in some way.

This leads to a never ending battle of continuous change that keeps taking the product away from the initial vision.

Think of the ‘Barrel of Monkeys’ kids game. You pull out one monkey, and the others follow because they’re all connected.

In manufacturing, it’s the same thing..change one little piece and everything else falls into (or out of) line.

It’s important that you remember all of these elements are linked and connected. You need to know how every element comes into play and how it affects the others while you are designing, and long before you start manufacturing. If you are able to fix these issues early in the development stage, you will find that everything else flows smoothly.

What Are the Common Design Issues?

No matter your industry and no matter the type of product you are developing, you will find that there are some common issues you will face. The following are some of the problems and issues we’ve seen and that you might be facing right now.

  • New design for an older product, and you want to use structured welded steel
  • Trying to find a new way to build a prototype
  • Creating equipment used in dangerous environments such as coal mines – electronics enclosures, for example, need to be sealed tightly to keep gases out of areas with electronics
  • Trying to reduce the costs
  • Fix issues with lead times and quality control
  • Trying to fix a bad design, which has caused increased costs

As we said, we’ve seen and helped with all of these different issues, just as we can do for you.

Case Study – 75% Cost Reduction

One recent client wanted to have a new structured welded steel design for one of their existing products. They came to Midlake for a consultation on how to design the hinges for the product.

During our meetings, we recommended a few changes the enclosure which affected the hinges and overall design. These changes to their initial prototypes made the product more functional, easier to manufacture and more durable…all factors which reduced their cost.

When it was all said and done, our suggested changes to the design by integrating custom hinges dropped their overall costs on the prototype design by an astounding 75%!

What We’ve Learned

Over the course of our time in the business, we’ve learned a number of things. For example, there is a huge difference when it comes to making suggestions for modifications to a product and trying to design one from scratch.

We’ve also learned the importance of having high quality designers who can put the concept to paper and make sure it is viable before finally taking the paper design into production. We can help you with all of these things and more. Let us be a part of the consultation for design of the initial product before you begin production, and you will be happy with the superior results we can achieve.


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