North West Product Designers

4D Products were proud to represent the North West Product Designer community at the recent CTH Innovation Showcase event.



Assembly of new products

We have recently been commissioned to assemble new products, which we previously designed. Assembly of new products is another service we can offer our customers.

Whilst It’s difficult to compete on cost when dealing with very low cost, high volume products from a UK base, there is a real opportunity when it comes to higher value products.

We cant reveal the product just yet as it hast been launched, but it is a reasonably complex electro mechanical device which retails for several hundred pounds. It is also really valuable for the design team to see the products going together, as it highlights the importance fo design decisions for ease of assembly, which ultimately lead to lower cost, better quality products.

Design Services Expanding

We have recently expanded our Design Services to include batch assembly of new products we have designed. This move was driven by customers wishing to bridge a gap between one off prototypes, and being able to deliver smaller batches of product to their customers.

This has been of particular interest to businesses who outsource manufacture, or are moving into the supply of their own products to complement their existing business model.

Inventing a New Product

We are approached by a very wide range of potential customers. From garden shed inventors to household brands.

There is an interesting difference of opinion kept by these different party’s regarding what type of products to develop. Whilst larger company’s usually focus their product development efforts on servicing an existing market, private inventors often feel they only have a chance if their idea is completely new, no equivalent product exists. We have seen many such people visibly deflated if they happen across a similar product on the internet after believing they were inventing a new product.

Whilst it may be easier to differentiate your new product if it has no direct competitors, the other side of the coin is that consumers may not be looking for it. So without clever and/or expensive marketing campaigns, how will the inventor persuade customers to buy their product? They have never needed it before.

Many recent innovations and headline grabbing successful product businesses don’t invent completely new products. They build on an existing platform with a proven customer base.

Dyson made an innovative step within an existing (and very competitive) market. But millions of people globally were already buying vacuum cleaners. Apple didn’t invent the personal music player. Many people owned ‘personal stereos’ for decades before the iPod was launched. They did create an object that was very desirable, but it could be argued the real innovation was the software that made buying and organising your music so simple.

The world is a big place, and consumers like choice. Don’t see a little competition as a bad thing! Work out what you can improve on and work with good designers who can help you make it a reality.

Congratulations to Football Flick

We are delighted to announce that one of our clients, Football Flick, have secured national retail deals for their innovative URBAN skills training product.

It’s been a fantastic project, from initial idea generation through to sourcing manufacturing suppliers in India.

Brand ambassador John Farnworth has stared in various tutorial and showcase videos, which can be viewed at

Football Flicks from Small Press Music on Vimeo.

Kickstarter UK

There’s been a buzz in the technology media recently about the imminent launch of Kickstarter in the UK. The US based crowdfunding website is one of the better known, but there are reportedly over 40 such sites already operating in the UK.

What’s all the fuss about?  For start ups and private inventors who are short of cash but rich in ideas, it has often been necessary to give away equity in a new venture in return for capital investment to get the project off the ground. Often the investor demands a high percentage of the business as it is seen as high risk before any revenue from sales has been generated.

The great thing about crowdfunding is that you get to pitch your new product / idea to your potential customers in the hope they will pre-buy the product and bridge the funding gap to go into production. If the funding target isnt met then buyers get their money back and the product remains on the drawing board. From the inventors point of view this has two main advantages.

  1. You don’t need to give half your business away to an investor before you have even started!
  2. Perhaps even more importantly, you get to test the market without committing large sums of cash to production set up and manufacture. If people like the product, they might buy it. If no-one is buying, that’s a sign that the market isn’t there for the product, or you haven’t got the product right yet. That’s really valuable information.

Successful projects can generate serious amounts of cash really quickly. For product based projects these tend to have;

  1. A good idea that has been well communicated. Often video, animation, and rendered images of the final product.
  2. A clear proposition, what the buyer will get.
  3. A preferential rate for early adopters.
  4. A capable team ready to spring into action when funds are in place.
  5. An effective PR campaign to generate interest in the product, often social media based.

If you think this approach could be for you or your business, why not get in touch to explore how we can work with you to create a great crowdfunding pitch!



UK Manufacturing

Interesting to hear Trunki are moving some production back to the UK.

Main reasons quoted;

  • Quicker response time for new orders
  • Good quality workmanship
  • Costs rising in the Far East (Wages have tripled in China in recent years!)

5 things to avoid when designing a new product…

‘I don’t need to do much research’

You could go on researching forever, and at some point you need to take action to move your project forward or put a line through it and move onto the next thing. But as a minimum you should be satisfied that there is a real market need for your product. What do total strangers think? How is the problem currently solved? How many people are experiencing the problem? Is my idea better or cheaper or faster than current solutions? How would I pitch this idea as really useful to a potential user in just a few sentences?

‘I need to file a patent right away’

We would advise people to explore the best method of protecting their product idea in parallel to discussing it with a professional designer under confidentiality. If they are good they will challenge your ideas, improve on them, and bring exciting new ideas to the table which can add commercial value to the product. When you have the best solution to the problem, you can protect it in the most suitable way. Patents, design rights, registered designs, registered trade names / logos and copyright are all to be considered. If you do this without optimising the design, you risk protecting an idea that isn’t as good as it might be, and allowing competitors to easily improve on your offering.

‘I know what I want, I don’t need to pay for professional designers’

As previously mentioned, a good designer should pay for themselves many times over when the product goes to market. How so? By optimising the product, reducing its build and set-up costs, making it more attractive to the end user, and therefore securing more sales.

‘I don’t need to spend money on prototyping’

Too often people see prototyping as an expense that they would prefer to avoid. In reality it is the best opportunity you will get to learn about, and improve your product prior to costly manufacturing set up and production runs.

A good designer will present a range of prototyping options which are most suitable to you at the time. Don’t spend thousands on vacuum castings just to see how big something looks on the desk, you can find that out with a block model made from foam board.

‘My product will be great, it will sell itself!’

People have lots of choice and limited budgets. They also tend towards the familiar, buying things that have suited their purposes previously. In order to sell your new product, you need to get it in front of potential buyers and very quickly communicate why they should choose your product over someone else’s. This often comes down to clearly demonstrated benefits to a business or end user, and an acceptable price.

An e-commerce website can be great, but how are you going to drive traffic to it?

Whatever route you choose, you will need to get the marketing message right, and make the buying process as hassle and risk free as possible.

If you aren’t a seasoned sales person, should someone else be doing it? You might want to consider selling or licensing your idea to an existing business with established routes to market.

Get in touch with 4D Products if you want success in New Product Development.

Daresbury Innovation Centre

Sci-Tech Daresbury is world class location for high-tech business and leading edge science.  It provides a unique environment for innovation and business growth, with knowledge sharing, collaboration and networking.

Home to the ground-breaking Daresbury Laboratory and the Cockcroft Institute as well as 100 high-tech companies, its stakeholders are the NWDA, the STFCHalton Borough Council and the Universities of LiverpoolLancaster and Manchester.

“Daresbury is a world class facility. I am proud that we have such a facility in our country and in the north-west region, as well as an innovation centre that is world beating and path breaking in its research.”

The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, January 2008.

Design Challenge

Our recent offer to fellow residents at Daresbury Innovation Centre for Product Design assistance is now fully booked. We had asked…

Why would any business spend their money on product design during a recession?

A lot of businesses are unconvinced of the the value of good design. They may view it as a bolt on activity if the budget allows. A luxury rather than a necessity.

4D Products would like the opportunity to challenge that perception and explain how product design can;

· Save you money

· Help you to stand out from the crowd

· Help you to exceed your customers expectations

· De-risk the whole product development process

· Be in a strong position when the recession ends

For one day only we are running a FREE one-to-one service at Daresbury Innovation Centre to offer confidential (under NDA), no obligation design input into your development project, at whatever stage it may be at.

Ask us a question, get an impartial opinion or advice, challenge us to demonstrate the value of design.

If you would like to benefit from access to over 20 years of product design experience, this is an opportunity not to be missed.


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