How many?

Feb. 4, 2021

The relation between units and production methods.

"How many?" Is always one of the questions we ask when discussing a new project. We understand that this is a difficult question to answer, nobody can look into the future. Yet the answer to this question is crucial to the design process; in this blog we explain why!

The start of the design process
When we meet a new client, it is important to get to know each other first. What does the client need? How do both parties prefer to work? What is expected from us? Important questions to ask. When there is a match, we can then talk about the problem definition and the product to be designed.

The problem could be anything. For example, an existing product no longer matches the target group or the product is too expensive. Or a new product should be designed to solve a problem for the target group. Based on the problem definition, a set of requirements can determined which the new design will have to meet. An important question that we always ask: how many units do you expect to sell? A difficult question to answer at this stage of the design process, but this number largely determines the success of the design.

The relationship between units and production methods
The amount of units determines what the product will look like and how much it will cost. For example, when a product is made 100 times, other production methods are interesting than when it is produced 100,000 times.

It’s more efficient to cut a plate with 100 units, whilst it is smarter and cheaper to use punching with 10,000 units. Casting is also suddenly interesting with these higher unit orders, and also adds the advantage that as a designer you have more freedom of design.

Production methods that require dies or molds, such as injection molding or extrusion, involve high start-up costs. However, these production processes often offer lower costs per part, proving to be more suitable for large runs.

In addition, a wrong forecast can also cause the production price to be too high in relation to the selling price. When a product is designed for 100 units, but it is subsequently produced 10,000 times, the costs are considerably higher than if the design was calculated on these numbers. As a result, little or no profit is made.

Keep finetuning
It is therefore smart to study and estimate the production quantity carefully at the start of the development of a product. Even if you already have a successful product, it is never wrong to take a look at the production methods you use. It could just happen that a new or modified design will improve the quality and cost of your product.

At Fabrique Invent we are continuously working on finding the right production methods for the right numbers. Both for new products to be developed and for existing products. Need help determining your market and unit size? Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

This article was written by Niels Schouten. Niels is an industrial designer, movement technologist and also director at Fabrique Invent.

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