Ask any consumer what irks them the most about modern production techniques and they’ll lament the fact that so many products are designed to fail. From product conception to production, materials make all the difference in how long your products last. It also correlates with how your customers feel about the quality your company provides.
Here is everything you need to know about how to select the right materials.
Check Out Spec Sheets
The first place to start with any new material is to look at the science on the material. Even if you don’t fully understand the elements laid out on the sheet, it’s a good way to get started in examining new material options. You’ll find a general overview of materials a well as technical deep dives.
Consider materials in a raw state as well as finished or processed materials.
When you take on materials in a raw state and process in-house, you can cut down on waste. You’ll have less scrap. If you’re dealing with high-quality raw materials, you’ll find that they’re easy to process.
If you’re open-minded about the kinds of materials that you could use for a new project or product, you may be pleasantly surprised. There are viable options that could save you money, even if they’re non-traditional materials.
What Do You Need From Your Product?
If you haven’t properly defined what you need from your product, you might not know what materials to use. You need products to grab the attention of consumers but you may also need to balance out other factors. Price point and quality are often in opposition and so you need to measure out which matters more.
Every manufacturer wants its products to be perfect. However, every product has one or two main selling points. Knowing what they are allows you to underscore them for consumers.
When you know what these points are, you can select the perfect materials.
A product should always look good, so don’t make that a top-selling point. In almost every case, the product should also be able to get multiple uses. If your product fails after just a few uses, it’s going to garner bad reviews which can sink your sales figures.
With 84% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend, see what people are saying about you online. It can inform the material choices you make.
Making an initial product run will teach you more than all of the design testing in the world. You’ll find out how long it takes to produce, how much it costs, where material problems could exist, and any usability issues.
Sometimes the issues are in the process of manufacturing products.
Production samples also give you the chance to get a few test products out to your customers. Let them know that they’re taking part in a testing group and that a product is in its infancy. You’ll get honest feedback from people who want to help you succeed.
Ask for samples back after a period fo time so that you can inspect the stress put on materials. Look for materials to warp, shrink, or fail. This can be a massive learning experience for your design and production team.
Run Tests Early
It’s never too early to run tests on your products. You have a lot of work to do after you create your production line.
Start by defining which elements of your product you want to test and what kinds of stress you expect it to be put under. Compare your materials to what’s expected from other material in your industry.
The real-world testing mentioned above is the only way to get real data, but you need to hammer out some issues in-house. While sending out samples will be welcome from your customers, remember that there’s very little keeping them from talking about material failure. If word gets out that your products have lost their edge, it could hurt future production.
Rigorously and repeatedly test products to get rid of imperfections before sending anything out. You can save some embarrassment while also getting people excited about your latest creation.
Think Like a User
When trying to find the perfect materials, you need to embody the user. The design process often forgets about the actual day to day use of a product. Take a trip to watch actual users of your products before you even start designing.
Set benchmarks for performance based on what you observe. Watch how users push your products to the limits and look out for uses that you didn’t anticipate. These unexpected uses can be revealing.
Don’t try to correct users when you observe them using your products in unintended ways. That means you need to design products better. Well-designed products show users how they want to be used.
Talk to Material Manufacturers
While every producer is on the hunt for the perfect material, few seek out the material manufacturers to answer their questions.
However, material manufacturers have answers for most of your questions. They’ll have data and ideas to respond to the questions you have. They’re a great resource when you’re troubleshooting issues with a new product.
For example, if this is your first time working with silicon bromide, why not talk to the experts before spending money on failed prototypes.
Life Begins at Product Conception
The amount of stress you feel from product conception depends on the materials that you choose. If you choose high-quality materials ideal for your purposes, production is a breeze.
If you’re seeking better production tools for your shop, check out our guide for some better solutions.