Sustainability, Design for the Environment, Design for the Earth, Design for the Circular Economy… To us at HD, they all allude to designing products responsibly, and to take care with environmental and social factors.

At HD, we have designed hundreds of new product and medical device projects over the years, and are responsible for the global contribution of hardware output, the conversion of raw materials into products, and ultimately a proportion of those products have unfortunately been sent to landfill.

Our aim over recent years has been to reduce the volume of waste, and to close the loop, creating cradle to cradle systems for our clients. We would like to share some of our findings as to what we’ve been working on and, why our Development Workflow has been instrumental in the development of responsibly designed products.

Our product Development Workflow is a simple phased process of Concept, Prototype and Design for Volume. Our process was originally developed from the British Standard for Design Management Systems BS 7000-2, and has been refined over the years to help our clients create successful market leading products. Within each phase are stage gates, to assess and mitigate project risk throughout the new product development process. Each of these stages have review / success criteria and checks to ensure that products are designed responsibly. This ensures the design meets user and functional performance requirements, is designed for manufacture and products are designed with to meet environmental requirements too. The stage gate approach identifies known risks from the offset, allows us to plan and focus on problems to be addressed and structures the process to ensure they are dealt with in the most efficient order.

During our Discovery & Design Immersion stage, we review the current regulatory landscape, and through industry insights we assess market trends and new policy conversations, alerting our clients of potential future changes, such as plastic packaging bans, material restrictions, or stricter waste management systems.

Throughout our Concept Design stage, we rapidly produce numerous free-form sketches, sometimes dramatically changing the size, shape and form that a product may take, constantly assessing whether plastic can be eliminated from a design, how material use may be reduced, and how to make a design more robust to prevent premature failure. We use an internally developed Concept Judgement Matrix to assess which solution is best, taking into account numerous requirements such as performance, manufacturing processes and design for the environment. Each requirement is weighted to suit projects needs and the commercial goals of our clients.

Our Feasibility Studies stage is a time to verify that a conceptual design is commercially, and technically viable. As we produce engineering drawings and liaise with potential manufacturers, we can conduct an Environmental Impact Analysis for the concept, to act as an early insight into its expected Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

More detailed design and engineering comes in Phase 2, Prototype Design, when we take a proposed concept and engineer it to be as efficient and robust as possible. For load bearing applications we conduct simple hand calculations and conduct detailed Finite Element Analysis to ensure the least amount of material is being used, while still achieving the design requirements. Read more about how a FEA can help you.

Phase 3, Production Design, involves close liaison with selected manufacturers to develop a manufacturing process flow which minimises waste, and reduces energy as much as possible. We ensure that all plastic moulded products contain polymer identifiers, to allow for ease of recycling. We aim to set up product trade-in schemes with our clients to allow for correct recycling methods and or refurbishment of old product. Read more about the importance of plastic free packaging.

Our Development Workflow is a tool that’s been refined over the decades and hundreds of projects for many industries. Following this process helps mitigate new product development risk, considers design for the environment and encourages the development of innovative sustainable solutions. Our desire to leave the world a better place drives us to keep learning and educate our clients about the importance of Design for the Environment, and to provide innovative successful products. Interested in improving the sustainability of your new product or medical device development? Get in touch to learn more.

Will Morris 7 January 2022

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Get in Touch with Will Morris

Design Development Engineer

Will graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in Product Design. Prior to Haughton Design, Will worked for Renishaw, where he led the industrial design for the current and next generation metal Additive Manufacturing machines. Will has a strong interest in Design for Sustainability, and the Circular Economy, looking to reduce companies’ environmental impact and often teaches about design engineering at local STEM events. Outside of work, Will enjoys Formula 1, rugby and travelling with friends.

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