About Us (continued)
R2FACT is an Innovation partner, which enables companies to remain focused on marketing and building their business and increasing their sales and distribution.
With five distinctly different divisions; Product, Manufacture, Import, Graphics & Multimedia, R2FACT Inc. develops, supplies and supports small businesses so their IDEAS become tomorrow’s Artifacts.
Artifact: ( är’ te fakt’) “An object created for practical purposes produced by human workmanship with a perceived value”; a cherished relic.
The year 2001 was one of our most challenging times in recent American history. We were attacked on US soil, the stock market crashed, both the Telecom and Internet bubbles burst. Enormous layoffs with a multitude of firms began to occur as they do still these past nine years. Unemployment began to rise further and continues to rise, health care costs were increasing at unprecedented rates and still are, among many other signs that times were getting very difficult for small businesses.
We recognized these signs and formed a network of professionals and experts in the field of product development to serve our U.S. small businesses. We realized very quickly that we could save small businesses a great deal of time, money and resources by hiring us temporarily on a per project basis. This alleviates the risk of bringing staff members on full-time when times are tight and growth is in question.
During these rapidly fast changing times, small businesses must reinvent themselves and must always innovate new products and services to remain ahead of their competition.
Virtual Prototype is another form one may want to consider as a preliminary step to the actual fabrication of a material. It can be less expensive than prototyping. “Virtual” by nature is visual only. It can not be touched. It is an electronic illustrated file in CAD that can be photo real rendered and used in an animation, video or printed to provide the illusion that the product is real in the three dimension.
Materials, processes, technology, complexity, function, cost and time all affect which level of prototyping is possible and needed for any product development. So, be sure that the product design and engineering is complete prior to prototyping. Once ready, it must be selected which method is best to fulfill your objective according to the budget.
Shops may fabricate or “cut away” metal, plastic, composite and wood to produce highly accurate and precise parts by CNC Lathe, CNC Mill, Water Jet, Laser, Press Break and other like shop machines. Or rapid prototypers may “sculpt” or “build” by adding to, with the use of laser driven resin building machines that can produce SLA, SLS, FDM parts and products. Which ever the case, volume required is a key question one must ask as well of course, what is the objective or deliverable needed?
What is your objective?
1. Acquire Funding
2. Test for Market Research
3. Build a Prototype for Licensing
4. Manufacture for Distribution
C.A.D. (Computer Aided Design)
R2FACT has diverse expertise and develop products with the ultimate goal of commercialization in mind. We work with Sales and Marketing so that the products are properly designed and engineered for the marketplace. Once a concept sketch and detail line drawings are signed off, we model in Solid Works. SW is the most recognized and accepted global CAD software in the product development field.
Being originally educated and trained in traditional free hand drawing and drafting has great advantages over those new comer's who develop products having never drawn a line on paper. CAD jockeys, digitizers or prototypers, often move into the CAD stage prior to finalizing the Research and Design stage.
This leap can be detrimental to the final product and is one of the most often seen mistakes in Product Development. It is much easier and affordable to sketch an array of concepts and refine these concepts over and over until a final concept sketch is selected rather than it is to move into CAD initially just for the sake of prototyping it. This is one true advantage of being an “Industrial Design” firm over a “Prototyping” firm.
Solid Modeling, as CAD is more often defined in today’s world, is a fully integrated approach to specifying surfaces and solids so that a part can be prototyped. Solid Modeling data is converted to machine language to be either rapid prototyped, laser cut or machined. Once the Prototype has been Analyzed and Tested, CAD Detail drawings may be created so that a full drawing package can be utilized and the data files can be utilized for tooling during manufacturing.
Virtual Prototype is another form of CAD to consider as a preliminary step to the actual fabrication or prototyping of an item. It can be less expensive than prototyping. “Virtual” by nature is visual only. It can not be touched. It is an illustrated electronic file that can be used in an animation, video or printed to provide the illusion that the product is real in the three dimension.
Will the product be licensed or sold directly? Will it be made in the US or off-shore? Will its features be basic or high end?
Which ever the response, the product’s “perceived consumer value” must be in line with the suggested retail price (SRP). The SRP versus “costs of goods” (COGs) must meet or beat standard industry margins and must have a multiplier factor of at least 5 x 1 and often as high as 6 or 7 x 1 if promoting on television or selling through home shopping networks is the goal.
Determining or estimating the COGs is directly related to what occurs during the initial engineering stages thru feature selection and specifications. The factor of course varies according to industry and category, but knowing and understanding this factor is a must. Know the market your product will sell in, know who the direct and indirect competition is and know what intellectual property you can incorporate and can not.
Product Engineering has many facets ranging from mechanical, electrical, optical, lighting, structural, materials and processes and some or all may play a role in developing a product, machine or system’s features. These many facets make up the product engineering and the features should be selected or left out to accommodate the product’s desired positioning in the market place, driven by open spaces of competition or enhanced aspects of function or benefits. Features, whether required or just wanted, must be determined and calculated to either enhance a product’s value and longevity and are directly related to the costs of goods. Specifying certain parts and materials for certain features has everything to do with the costs of goods of the item being developed.
Likewise, the frequency of use a product has will determine the required repeatability and degree of durability which are also both essential factors to derive the product value and product life cycle. Is it a consumable or durable product? It is critical to understand your product position, market and where the product will be sold. If too many features are integrated into the item, costs go up and may exceed necessary margins one must have to be below the perceived value of the product price to the wholesaler and or end user.
Is the product used in an inside or outside environment? The environment the product is to be used, packaged and stored once set aside or not in use may often carry in it self an independent set of specifications. Humidity, temperature, stress, vibration, UV and other natural forces of wear and tear must all be defined and accounted for.
Industrial Design (ID) is many things yet it all depends on who you ask, what industry they are in and what country they are from. ID is the heart and brain of Product Development and Industrial Design, if done concurrently with the entire development process along with marketing and sales, will lead to the purest of successful solutions.
ID in a nut shell, is how humans interact with man-made objects through all 6 senses of the human psyche. All human factors, through an object’s promotion, sales, training, use/ergonomics, maintenance, repair, resell and end of life, ones sight, touch, smell, hear, and kinesthetic sense may all play important roles in defining a design.
Depending on the objective, deliverables such as hand sketch, line drawing, hand rendering, computer illustration, CAD/Solid Model or video animation can be used to communicate or specify a product to 1. Acquire Funding, 2. Test for Market Research, 3. Build a Prototype and ultimately for 4. Manufacture for Distribution.
In America, ID is often considered a more graphical specialty as compared to our European counterparts and those at R2FACT, who both believe that true ID integrates the tasks of Research, Design, Engineering, Prototyping, Manufacturing, Merchandizing, Marketing, Sales and Distribution concurrently.
The formal scholastic definition of “Industrial design (ID) is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer.” www.idsa.org.
History of Industrial Design
“As industrialization accelerated and consumer goods proliferated after 1865, competition forced manufacturers to focus on product appearance. Ordinary citizens aspired to comfort, even luxury: patent furniture, lush domestic interiors, and eclectic mail-order goods. New materials like celluloid simulated expensive ivory and tortoiseshell. Although an industrial design profession did not exist in the late nineteenth century, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright articulated its principles in 1901 by advising artists to abandon craft production and create prototypes for factory reproduction.
Henry Dreyfuss, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, and Walter Dorwin Teague became celebrities. General Electric, Sears Roebuck, and other companies established in-house design departments. Some designers sought to transform society, as at the utopian New York World’s Fair of 1939, but more commercial considerations inspired Egmont Arens to describe his profession as “consumer engineering.”
During World War II, designers boosted morale by visualizing postwar products in magazine advertisements: prefabricated housing, bubble‐domed automobiles, and push‐button telephones. The profession became institutionalized in the American Designers Institute (1938) and the Society of Industrial Designers (1944); both later consolidated as the Industrial Designers Society of America (1965).” www.encyclopedia.com
Competitor Research – Every product has competition. Whether direct or indirect competition is found or determined, all data will help allow us to define the problems associated with your product. Knowing all the competition will also help identify the solutions in the open spaces in the market prior to putting anything on paper or on computer.
Even if you have a patent or prototype already, clearly evaluating your competition is critical to driving the product development down the right road. Defining who and what your competition is, both directly and indirectly is the single most important element of whether or not your product development succeeds.
If not researched well or if it’s overlooked, we can end up with a marketable product that is not covered by the patent or a fully patent protected product that is not in demand and or does not compete well in the market place for a number of reasons.
Market Research – The market will ultimately determine if your new product is a strikeout, hit, home run or a grand slam. However, accurately defining the details of the market in your industry from the start of the game is essential. Knowing what the potential volume and revenue of other like-products will in fact help us properly budget and project your new product volumes and revenue more accurately thus maximizing your return of investment and reducing your risk.
Anyone can create a product and throw it at the wall (market) to see if it sticks! Many companies do it with out truly researching the market and we believe that’s why it’s estimated that 5 out of 6 great products fail in the market place. With out a real definition of the market for your product, you may find that it’s too expensive, too much competition, the problem being solved really is not a problem of the masses, too many choices already, too many established habits in behavior and so on. Or you may find that it’s priced right, there is demand, solves a big problem or fills a need of the masses and you’re at the right place at the right time.
Tech and Trends Research – As with most industries, there are fads, trends, advancements of technology and there is true displacement of technology. They can all have value and can all be profitable however, understanding where you are in the tech timeline and being one step ahead affords you greater ability to adapt to our rapidly changing times. Understand where your product lies in this timeline.
User Research – Who will be using your product and who will be buying your product may be two very different questions? Having a deep understanding of who will be using your product and how, will give us great insight into who to design it for; which age group? what gender? what type of person?, what features to include, what not include, how big, what style, etc, etc.
There are many criteria to determine who your target is and just as important, who it is not for. This demographic data is an absolute must with any new product development. Several ways exist to conduct this form of research. Questionnaires, surveys, interviews and observation are all methods to determine the behaviors of how and if some one performs a particular task.
Infringing on another product must be avoided. If your Product Idea is found through a Patent Search, yet you still want to continue, a Patent Infringement analysis may be recommended. See an attorney! The absolute worst scenario is that you spend thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a product and go to market to one day have someone file an infringement law suit against you.
Formal Patent Search
If your product is not found via on-line search, then please hire a Patent Agent or an IP attorney to conduct a thorough search for you. Provide he or she with all materials you found on-line that are relevant. The IP firm will search by completely different methods than you did via the internet. He or she will search by classifications to locate ANY prior art in product categories you may not have even thought of. More detailed IP research such as prior art analysis may be required.
Patentability opinions may also be necessary and we highly recommend you consult with your attorney on these issues and fees. IP research and applications can be costly, but if protection is critical to your business model, then the costs may be well worth it. If you currently warehouse, market, sell and distribute product, Intellectual Property protection such as Design and Utility Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights may be key to your business model and brand(s).
However, if your objective is to get to market fast and hard or be the first to market and you know for a fact that your product does not infringe on anything in the market place, then you may choose to skip the formal Intellectual Property phase. This strategy is a tricky slope of which you may slip and fall or race to the finish line with great success. For this to be the case, generally, a firm needs a highly regarded brand name and or a large number of skus and or great regional or national distribution.
“No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess”
– Isaac Newton