Injection Molding Sales Consideration
Before a product is designed for production, it should undergo a thorough analysis to determine if the probabilities for its success are of sufficient magnitude to warrant the outlay of capital that would be necessary to get into production.
The engineer today can design almost any desired product.
His designs can make products more efficient, less costly, and have a longer working life.
However, these factors alone do not assure that potential customers will buy the product.
The design of a successful product must start with the customer.
The design must include the features that the customer wants.
To determine these features, several areas of influence should be studied.
This preliminary analysis is usually the prerogative of the Sales and Marketing Departments. Still, it will be mentioned here so that the production design engineer will have a better understanding of all the intangibles that affect the success of a product.
The areas that should be examined preparatory to design include the following:
- An analysis of the market to determine its size, the nature of the customers, and possible trends.
- Evaluation of the competition to determine its extent and strength and get a clear picture of the pricing situation.
- Appraise distribution to determine if the product can be sold through its regular distribution channels and with its existing sales organization.
- Determine how much advertising and promotion will be needed to introduce the product.
- Appraise the effect of the product on the existing business to determine if it will increase or decrease the sale of existing products.
- Determine financial requirements to learn how much investment may be required to handle the development, manufacture, and marketing of the product and the probable returns.
All the above areas should be examined to appraise the idea from the standpoints of the customer, market, and overall business.
Once this is done, and if it appears sound to embark upon the idea, objectives should be established and responsibilities assigned.
Too frequently, the product designer is cognizant only of function when he is designing a product.
This section intends to present all the important factors that must be considered in the product design function to ensure that the product is designed for production.
If any product is to maintain a lasting, satisfactory sales appeal, it must:
- Have a sound functional design.
- Have eye appeal.
- Have quality characteristics, both in material and workmanship.
- Provide for convenient maintenance.
- Be competitive in price.
- Be delivered to the customer in time to meet his needs.
Of the above requirements, 1, 2, 3, and 4 are principally the responsibility of the product design function, and 5 and 6 are, to a large extent, the responsibility of the process design function.
To assure that all six of the criteria are met, product design and process design must work closely together and in harmony.
The product designer can obtain much helpful information about the specification of optimum geometry, tolerances, and finish from the process designer.
Likewise, the process designer can receive a great deal of assistance from the product designer to locate points, material characteristics, and product use.
Without the combined knowledge of these two sources, it is difficult, if not impossible, to engineer a new product design.
As a new product is conceived or an old product is improved, the major objective is to provide a commodity that will meet some need or render some service in a manner superior to that of a former product.
Sound functional design assures that the product will satisfactorily operate for a reasonable period of time in the manner intended.
Thus the materials going into the design will have been thoroughly checked for physical characteristics, such as strength, stiffness, and weight, and such service characteristics as corrosion resistance and conductivity.
The sound functional design takes into consideration all those details that affect the operation of a product.
In other words, the functional design assures a design that will work and accomplish the purpose for which it was intended.
Functional design in itself does not consider ease of manufacture or maintenance, and it frequently neglects eye appeal.
It must always be remembered that a design that is impractical to manufacture is just as unsatisfactory as a design that will function improperly.
It is also important that the design appeal to the aesthetic sense.
It is not the purpose of this text to delve into the “how” of good functional design, as this subject alone would fill a book.
However, since the “pure” functional designer has frequently given insufficient consideration to appearance and quality, these two criteria, which greatly affect sales, will be discussed.
Shape, color, texture, and quality are more intimately related to the product designer’s work than to that of the process designer.
VALUE OF APPEARANCE
Engineers must appreciate the value of appearance and its relation to the product’s function, cost, and sales.
This modern trend of thinking was apparent at a recent machine tool show.
Visitors gathered around the “attractive” machines, which had a good appearance built into the design, and tended to pass by less attractive machines designed for function alone. An operator takes pride in a machine with a good appearance.
His interest results in lower maintenance costs and better quality products.
Appearance has become a major factor in all types of household appliances, machinery, process equipment (such as baking and canning machinery), locomotives,
Better location of controls permits more efficient operation. Charts, data plates, and gages have been organized for quick, easy reference.
The form of the lathe gives an impression of reliable sturdiness and impels operator assurance—power equipment.
Better balance is now being attained between functional design, materials, finishes, colors, processes, manufacturing methods, maintenance, and appearance. Fundamental principles and laws govern the shapes and colors for aesthetic appeal.
Building “appearance” into a product falls into the province of the engineer because, “Appearance must be built into a product, not applied to a product.”
The appearance of a product makes deep impressions on a buyer: it may suggest power and speed in a locomotive, durability in a machine tool, cleanliness in hospital equipment, precision in an instrument.
When two products have approximately the same functions, the same cost, and the same time required for delivery, the product with the better appearance will have the most sales appeal.
The importance of appearance to the auto industry is illustrated by the fact that the original Chrysler Air-Flow and the Buick bulging-body designs failed to attract the public.
This awakened the auto industry to the importance of appearance. If the appearance of a car produced by Chevrolet in quantities exceeding a million a year failed to appeal to the customer, losses would be disastrous.
Consequently, the auto industry spends large sums on market research to find the style and features that customers prefer.
The importance of appearance is probably one reason why the chief engineer of one automobile manufacturing company is a man with an artistic background.
The engineers of the Hamilton Watch Company have recognized the problem of appearance as well as quality and cost.
Watchmaking is an old art in which sound customs and principles have been established for many years.
The Hamilton Watch Company has realized the value of these customs and principles and has acted on them.
Their interest in the history of watchmaking led their engineers to study the history of the form and appearance of watches.
They also began to study appearance from the artist’s viewpoint and found that in ancient days the proportions of the “golden rectangle” had been established as the form most pleasing to the eye.
Since the Hamilton watch had been produced in many shapes and forms, it was decided to check the sales of various styles and their artistic characteristics.
The survey proved that the wristwatches built closest to the proportion of the golden rectangle had the greatest sale.
The proportions used apparently resulted from good judgment because the golden rectangle had not been considered when the watch designs were created.
The new Hamilton wristwatches have the proportions of the golden rectangle.
When an engineer enters a well-established field, he should be careful about discarding well-tried principles of design. He should analyze the sales record of the products to determine the functions, form, and color that have appealed to the customer.
Another example of the use of principles and laws that evolved over hundreds of years is creating printing type.
Today’s magazines, both technical and popular, use hundreds of different styles of type in their advertising material and usually one distinctive type for their reading material.
An outstanding artist has created each style. The perfection of art is not always realized.
Letters are made in accordance with certain laws of proportion; the spacing, the size of lines, and the proportion of top to bottom are all worked out with mathematical precision.
Originals are made on a large scale and are reduced to the size of the print.
Although made according to the rules of proper proportion, the large originals always require slight modifications by the artist to obtain balance, spacing, legibility, and proper characteristics.
Molds and dies are made to extreme accuracy to secure the proper effect.