When to carry out a feasibility study?
A dedicated feasibility stage usually occurs once a detailed concept CAD model has been developed. The bill of materials generated from such a model provides a solid base in which to consult with suppliers, source proprietary components, and therefore adequately assess the feasibility.
To some extent, an experienced engineer is able to design with cost and manufacturability in mind, however, at the concept stage it is particularly important to avoid placing heavy restrictions on creativity or unnecessarily limiting the design. The goal of the concept design stage is to freely explore different options for a product and the main focus should not be on feasibility.
How to conduct a feasibility Study?
The concept CAD models are used to start discussions with tool makers and produce engineering drawings with critical dimensions or tolerances shown. We would be looking to obtain all costs relating to the production of the components, including bespoke tooling and part costs including finishes or secondary operations. Material selection can have an impact on tool and part costs, as well as potential supply chain issues, so selecting the right materials for the technical requirements of the product and understanding costs is important. Lead times should be requested from all manufacturers/suppliers, as this will influence product launch plans.
If possible, discuss the assembly of the product with the company that will carry out the work, to ensure that they have the necessary skills, tools, space and availability. If the product will be installed, speak to typical installation teams to find out what is best practice and understand the difficulties they might face.
Prototyping the design at this stage can help highlight functional, ergonomic and human factors risks that wouldn’t be obvious by looking at the design on a screen.
Time is money, so if the product is over-complicated or difficult to manufacture/assemble/install, it could add significant and unnecessary costs to the product and its development. Its well worth taking the time to assess these things as early as possible to understand these challenges and design them out. If you would like further advice or assistance with conducting a feasibility study or, a wider device development programme, please get in touch.