Prototyping a consumer product

We visualise consumer or retail products as an item you could find in a department store such as Selfridges, John Lewis or Debenhams. We have over 20 years experience developing consumer products from toys, household products, hair and beauty to furniture. Key to our success over that time has been our approach to understanding the likely cost to manufacture the product – the cost matrix. See 'evaluate'.

Our first product prototypes are typically made from paper, foamboard, sometimes wood and glue, we call them 3D sketches. It is surprising how often our client’s brief changes after seeing a 3D sketch to scale or having held and imagined trying to use the product. It is therefore a vital inexpensive and quick design thinking process we work through with clients.

The challenge

It is easy to design and make a product. However, it is very hard to design and make a product to a target cost typically 1/5th of the recommended retail price. Consumer products have a complicated route to market, especially when selling internationally via distributors. The design must provide margin to everyone in the chain that gets the product from manufacture to market. To save too much development cost we often make several mock up prototypes that test specific functions, such as a firing mechanism in a toy or a mechanical lifting mechanism in a piece of furniture. These are tested, refined, and then we cost them with our manufacturing partner.

The Hairmoji product started off as an Idea from our client Bleach London. They came to us with a rough rig of a loom which demonstrated how you can weave a thread through strands of Hair. They did this at Glastonbury Festival, and it became a trend and was featured in magazines such as Vogue on well known models. They asked us to turn the concept into a product they could own.

Our first rigs of the fluxuator were made in blocks of wood and squeezy bottles. Our concept was to push flux through to 4 brushes via 4 pipes. These first rigs proved out the size of holes and the amount of flux that could be easily dispensed.

The solution

Unlike most design studios we strive to work in parallel with our manufacturing partners from the concept stage onward. This is not always viable, but we have learnt that this development process delivers a better commercial product. Together we strive to deliver a WLLL – a works like looks like prototype. As the name suggests, a WLLL prototype functions and looks like the intended final product, but is often not representative of the design ready for manufacture. The purpose of this WLLL prototype is to market test the design. How is it used? Does the customer understand what the product does just by looking at it? Is there anything we can learn from testing it to make the design simpler? Therefore, they are often made prior to engineering each component for production.

Hairmoji: The concept and detail design stages delivered a fun, funky solution for the Hairmoji concept. We made a character that the clients called – Hairmoji. We strove to make the products with as few parts as possible because we knew that the top RRP of the product would be £14.99 or in mass batch production could go as low as £9.99 and $9.99 in the US. We therefore 3d printed several forms to check the function first.

The outcome

Once the WLLL is signed off, the production engineering teams pour over every component to make sure that they are designed as efficiently as possible. We often take the design into VR to check for assembly challenges and see if anything can be simplified to save tooling costs, assembly time and product cost. These individual parts are then 3D printed or CNC and combined to make the Pre-Production Prototype. (PPP).

Ideally if the development budget allows, we will make the WLLL prototype to be as close to a manufacture product as possible so as we can share it with the safety test and certification houses for their review. If this is not possible, we will send the pre-production prototype for review prior to entering the manufacturing phase.

Fluxuator: The brushes for the fluxuator are made of a soft polyurethane rubber, and it was expensive to prototype these. We therefore did not make a WLLL of the fluxuator and went straight to a pre-production prototype. We were confident with the process of dispensing a dose of flux and knew that if we were to make any amends, it would be to the smaller parts such as the brushes or the plunger. Our pre-production prototype of the fluxuator could be fully tested as well as used for branding and sales videos. There were very minor changes made by our manufacturing partners prior to committing the design to tooling.

Hairmoji: We made 2 rounds of WLLL prototypes for the Hairmoji product to fine tune the tolerances to catch the hair and make the tapestry as easy as possible. The safety reviews also highlighted that we needed to consider beefing up sections of the product to pass their standards.

For both the Hairmoji and Fluxuator products we made the pre production prototypes using 3D prints in different materials to test for strength and function.

Find out more on prototyping:


Types of prototypes

Prototyping an IoT product

Prototyping a consumer product

We visualise consumer or retail products as an item you could find in a department store such as Selfridges, John Lewis or Debenhams. We have over 20 years experience developing consumer products from toys, household products, hair and beauty to furniture. Key to our success over that time has been our approach to understanding the likely cost to manufacture the product – the cost matrix. See ‘evaluate‘.

Our first product prototypes are typically made from paper, foamboard, sometimes wood and glue, we call them 3D sketches. It is surprising how often our client’s brief changes after seeing a 3D sketch to scale or having held and imagined trying to use the product. It is therefore a vital inexpensive and quick design thinking process we work through with clients.

The challenge

It is easy to design and make a product. However, it is very hard to design and make a product to a target cost typically 1/5th of the recommended retail price. Consumer products have a complicated route to market, especially when selling internationally via distributors. The design must provide margin to everyone in the chain that gets the product from manufacture to market. To save too much development cost we often make several mock up prototypes that test specific functions, such as a firing mechanism in a toy or a mechanical lifting mechanism in a piece of furniture. These are tested, refined, and then we cost them with our manufacturing partner.

The Hairmoji product started off as an Idea from our client Bleach London. They came to us with a rough rig of a loom which demonstrated how you can weave a thread through strands of Hair. They did this at Glastonbury Festival, and it became a trend and was featured in magazines such as Vogue on well known models. They asked us to turn the concept into a product they could own.

Our first rigs of the fluxuator were made in blocks of wood and squeezy bottles. Our concept was to push flux through to 4 brushes via 4 pipes. These first rigs proved out the size of holes and the amount of flux that could be easily dispensed.

The solution

Unlike most design studios we strive to work in parallel with our manufacturing partners from the concept stage onward. This is not always viable, but we have learnt that this development process delivers a better commercial product. Together we strive to deliver a WLLL – a works like looks like prototype. As the name suggests, a WLLL prototype functions and looks like the intended final product, but is often not representative of the design ready for manufacture. The purpose of this WLLL prototype is to market test the design. How is it used? Does the customer understand what the product does just by looking at it? Is there anything we can learn from testing it to make the design simpler? Therefore, they are often made prior to engineering each component for production.

Hairmoji: The concept and detail design stages delivered a fun, funky solution for the Hairmoji concept. We made a character that the clients called – Hairmoji. We strove to make the products with as few parts as possible because we knew that the top RRP of the product would be £14.99 or in mass batch production could go as low as £9.99 and $9.99 in the US. We therefore 3d printed several forms to check the function first.

The outcome

Once the WLLL is signed off, the production engineering teams pour over every component to make sure that they are designed as efficiently as possible. We often take the design into VR to check for assembly challenges and see if anything can be simplified to save tooling costs, assembly time and product cost. These individual parts are then 3D printed or CNC and combined to make the Pre-Production Prototype. (PPP).

Ideally if the development budget allows, we will make the WLLL prototype to be as close to a manufacture product as possible so as we can share it with the safety test and certification houses for their review. If this is not possible, we will send the pre-production prototype for review prior to entering the manufacturing phase.

Fluxuator: The brushes for the fluxuator are made of a soft polyurethane rubber, and it was expensive to prototype these. We therefore did not make a WLLL of the fluxuator and went straight to a pre-production prototype. We were confident with the process of dispensing a dose of flux and knew that if we were to make any amends, it would be to the smaller parts such as the brushes or the plunger. Our pre-production prototype of the fluxuator could be fully tested as well as used for branding and sales videos. There were very minor changes made by our manufacturing partners prior to committing the design to tooling.

Hairmoji: We made 2 rounds of WLLL prototypes for the Hairmoji product to fine tune the tolerances to catch the hair and make the tapestry as easy as possible. The safety reviews also highlighted that we needed to consider beefing up sections of the product to pass their standards.

For both the Hairmoji and Fluxuator products we made the pre production prototypes using 3D prints in different materials to test for strength and function.

Find out more on prototyping:


Types of prototypes

Prototyping an IoT product

Prototyping a consumer product

We visualise consumer or retail products as an item you could find in a department store such as Selfridges, John Lewis or Debenhams. We have over 20 years experience developing consumer products from toys, household products, hair and beauty to furniture. Key to our success over that time has been our approach to understanding the likely cost to manufacture the product – the cost matrix. See 'evaluate'.

Our first product prototypes are typically made from paper, foamboard, sometimes wood and glue, we call them 3D sketches. It is surprising how often our client’s brief changes after seeing a 3D sketch to scale or having held and imagined trying to use the product. It is therefore a vital inexpensive and quick design thinking process we work through with clients.

The challenge

It is easy to design and make a product. However, it is very hard to design and make a product to a target cost typically 1/5th of the recommended retail price. Consumer products have a complicated route to market, especially when selling internationally via distributors. The design must provide margin to everyone in the chain that gets the product from manufacture to market. To save too much development cost we often make several mock up prototypes that test specific functions, such as a firing mechanism in a toy or a mechanical lifting mechanism in a piece of furniture. These are tested, refined, and then we cost them with our manufacturing partner.

The Hairmoji product started off as an Idea from our client Bleach London. They came to us with a rough rig of a loom which demonstrated how you can weave a thread through strands of Hair. They did this at Glastonbury Festival, and it became a trend and was featured in magazines such as Vogue on well known models. They asked us to turn the concept into a product they could own.

Our first rigs of the fluxuator were made in blocks of wood and squeezy bottles. Our concept was to push flux through to 4 brushes via 4 pipes. These first rigs proved out the size of holes and the amount of flux that could be easily dispensed.

The solution

Unlike most design studios we strive to work in parallel with our manufacturing partners from the concept stage onward. This is not always viable, but we have learnt that this development process delivers a better commercial product. Together we strive to deliver a WLLL – a works like looks like prototype. As the name suggests, a WLLL prototype functions and looks like the intended final product, but is often not representative of the design ready for manufacture. The purpose of this WLLL prototype is to market test the design. How is it used? Does the customer understand what the product does just by looking at it? Is there anything we can learn from testing it to make the design simpler? Therefore, they are often made prior to engineering each component for production.

Hairmoji: The concept and detail design stages delivered a fun, funky solution for the Hairmoji concept. We made a character that the clients called – Hairmoji. We strove to make the products with as few parts as possible because we knew that the top RRP of the product would be £14.99 or in mass batch production could go as low as £9.99 and $9.99 in the US. We therefore 3d printed several forms to check the function first.

The outcome

Once the WLLL is signed off, the production engineering teams pour over every component to make sure that they are designed as efficiently as possible. We often take the design into VR to check for assembly challenges and see if anything can be simplified to save tooling costs, assembly time and product cost. These individual parts are then 3D printed or CNC and combined to make the Pre-Production Prototype. (PPP).

Ideally if the development budget allows, we will make the WLLL prototype to be as close to a manufacture product as possible so as we can share it with the safety test and certification houses for their review. If this is not possible, we will send the pre-production prototype for review prior to entering the manufacturing phase.

Fluxuator: The brushes for the fluxuator are made of a soft polyurethane rubber, and it was expensive to prototype these. We therefore did not make a WLLL of the fluxuator and went straight to a pre-production prototype. We were confident with the process of dispensing a dose of flux and knew that if we were to make any amends, it would be to the smaller parts such as the brushes or the plunger. Our pre-production prototype of the fluxuator could be fully tested as well as used for branding and sales videos. There were very minor changes made by our manufacturing partners prior to committing the design to tooling.

Hairmoji: We made 2 rounds of WLLL prototypes for the Hairmoji product to fine tune the tolerances to catch the hair and make the tapestry as easy as possible. The safety reviews also highlighted that we needed to consider beefing up sections of the product to pass their standards.

For both the Hairmoji and Fluxuator products we made the pre production prototypes using 3D prints in different materials to test for strength and function.

Find out more on prototyping:


Types of prototypes

Prototyping an IoT product