Product Development Secrets from the Best Designers

It is undisputed – product development is very challenging.

No matter what process we follow or how well defined the specifications are, projects never proceed as smoothly as we would like.

This was the theme of our workshop a few weeks ago, when I had the pleasure of presenting ‘DFX and You: Making the Transition from Design to Manufacturing’ along with Nate Bullerman, Engineering Leader in Creation’s Minnesota manufacturing facility.

We partnered with LifeScience Alley as part of the educational sessions they provide to Minnesota’s healthcare and life sciences community, and spent the morning with a great group of design engineers.

Watch Nate discuss how tombstoning can be avoided through DFM in the video below.

There’s Only One Guarantee in New Product Development

The discussion went something like this… Whether:

  • The software has a nagging bug
  • The hardware has an intermittent reset
  • The enclosure needs to be bigger
  • The cost is just a bit too high, or
  • Marketing would like to add “just one” more feature…

The only guarantee in new product development is:

The product you release will be very different than the one you started with.

The recipe for success in product development is in having the skills to manage change and identify risk, while keeping within cost and time constraints.

Product Development
Do you have the skills to manage change and identify risk, while keeping within cost and budget?

The Big Picture

The demands of product development can be overwhelming for the design engineer.

In fact, so much pressure is often placed on getting a prototype fully functional, often within superhuman time constraints, that little thought is given to the long-term production of the product.

Engineers are entrepreneurs at heart, and so a typical design approach is to purchase all the parts to build the prototype, put it together somehow, and “make it work”.

This doesn’t always lend itself to the Design for Excellence, or DFX, that is necessary to produce a commercially viable product.

It’s easy to wonder, “Why would I specify six alternative components when I don’t know if the prototype will even work?”

Or, “Why should I add all the other details when the product specifications are just going to change again?”

Secrets of the Best Designers

The best designers know how to balance the priorities of the complete project.

Part of this balancing act is framing the overall plan for procurement, production and test. Successful designers know that overlooking these critical functions can result in significant delays and/or costs.

If you want to follow best practices, it is important to identify any barriers early, (before those prototypes), to allow for recovery and a change of direction. This is true whether the product is expected to utilize all standard parts and processes or has some customization.

At our LifeScience Alley workshop, we discussed many aspects of DFX, and created a handy DFM reference for engineers as they think about best designs for product manufacturing.

If you’d like a copy, you can download one here: The Successful Engineer’s Guide to DFM


'The Successful Engineer's Easy Reference Guide to DFM'

The best designers know that the way forward is through collaboration – to involve team members from purchasing, manufacturing and test to assist in the product review.

As Woodrow Wilson once said, “I use not only all the brains I have, but all those I can borrow.”

What are some of the ways you’ve found to balance competing priorities in the design process?

Creativity and Innovation in Medical Product Development

If you read my blog post back in July, you know that Creation Technologies and Creation Design Services were this year’s Innovation Station Sponsors at LSA2014, LifeScience Alley’s Health Technology Leadership Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

It was amazing to meet life sciences innovators from across the globe as everyone joined LSA in celebrating 30 years of achievement in Minnesota’s medical community.

Personally, I was very impressed by Mayo Clinic Ventures. The organization systematically invests in new technology and start-ups to bring solutions to niche markets. This mindset will continue to be especially important as the medical industry focuses on the patient experience, and “outliers” become a thing of the past.

Check out the LSA2014 Conference Recap to see some of the insights shared by The Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, SharedClarity and many others.

The Power of Creativity in Innovation

In a rapidly changing industry like Healthcare, innovation is a must.

“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.”
~Albert Einstein

We need to regain the creativity of our childhood to come up with revolutionary ideas, and we wanted Creation’s Innovation Station to help people tap into their hidden potential.

We also wanted everyone to have a lot of fun.

Naturally, we thought of LEGO!

Simulating the product commercialization process, we had a lot of fun helping guests design, build and program their own remote-controlled robots using LEGO Mindstorms.

We built some robots of our own, too, and definitely enjoyed chasing people around with them!

(Unfortunately Katie did less chasing than the rest of us…)

Nate Bullerman and Katie Eggert as Katie shows off her stylish footwear at LSA2014
Nate Bullerman and Katie Eggert as Katie shows off her stylish footwear at LSA2014

Here’s a quick recap of our own LSA experience:


Innovation and Product Development

I recently came across an article with a photo of an awesome and authentic note to parents included in LEGO Instructions from 1974. As of this blog post, this tweet by @henrywarren has been retweeted over 8,000 times!

Lego definitely had it nailed.

Unlike LEGO, however, product development doesn’t come with a set of instructions.

It involves a great deal of creative thinking, expertise, and an innovator’s mindset to overcome common product development pitfalls.

Yet, like LEGO Mindstorms, there are simple design practices that you can incorporate to achieve manufacturing and commercial success.

Anyone can find fresh and innovative solutions with the right approach, tools, and partners to help along the way.

Are you interested in learning more about how Creation and our Medical Device Design and Manufacturing services can help you innovate and succeed?

Give me a call at 262.501.6686 or send me an email any time.

P.S. For even the most experienced designers, Product Development can be a real challenge. Nate and I presented ‘DFX and You: Making the Transition from Design to Manufacturing’ last week at Hamline University in Minneapolis as part of LSA’s educational workshops. Stay tuned for an upcoming post!

Dec 10 Workshop: Making the Transition from Design to Manufacturing

Tips for design engineers to make a successful transition from design to manufacturing
Tips for design engineers to make a successful transition from design to manufacturing

You wake up clammy, in a cold sweat.

Your heart is racing over 120BPM and you feel anxiety like you have never felt before.

It’s because of your dream.

This dream wasn’t the usual, where your teeth fell out, or your teenage self showed up at the wrong building for a final exam. No, this was much worse.

This time, you had a dream about your project. Your newly designed, much anticipated product that will change everything for your company.

In your dream, you were in a room with a big clock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. The hands were moving fast.

Every minute, a sales guy would come in and ask if you were done yet.

Each time you’d answer, “Not quite”.

Then a marketing person would arrive and ask you to make just a “little” change.

Every time you glanced at the clock, the hands were moving even faster.

Sales guy. Marketing.


Finally, at your wit’s end, you completed adding every ‘little’ change and tore out of the room. “I’ve done it! Here it is!”

You looked around. Your boss and the large team of people wearing clean, white suits looked back at you. “But how will we make it?” they asked, over and over in a slow, rhythmic chant.

That’s when you woke up.



It is now time to change the drenched sheets and sign up for ‘DFX and You: Making the Transition from Design to Manufacturing’.


Making the Transition from Design to Manufacturing

For even the most experienced designers, Product Development can be a real challenge.

Making sense of product requirements, satisfying all major stakeholders, and ensuring that the product is well-designed for commercial success are all critical processes.

As experienced designers and manufacturers, we can help.

Partnering with LifeScience Alley for a December 10th ‘DFX’ Workshop

On December 10th, Creation is partnering with LifeScience Alleyto host a workshop that will offer design engineers some key tips to ensure successful product development.

Sign up today for “DFX and You: Making the Transition from Design to Manufacturing”, at Hamline University Minneapolis.

Nate Bullerman, Engineering Leader in our St Peter, Minnesota business unit, and I will outline some of the standard design practices you should embrace to ensure a smooth transition to manufacturing – the first time, and every time.

We’ll also arm you with information that you can provide to your sales and marketing teams to optimize the process and ease your mind.

And did we mention that we’ll be giving attendees a pretty cool handout, ‘The Successful Engineer’s Guide to DFM Success’?

Hope to see you there!

Of course, if you’re interested but can’t make it, just let me know and I’d be more than happy to walk you through some of the material.

Medical Devices Innovation: LifeScience Alley & Creation Technologies

Creation Technologies Sponsors LifeScience Alley Conference for Medical Devices

For many decades, Minnesota (and indeed, the Mid-West) has been a critical hub for development in Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Medical Devices.

For a Biomedical Engineer-cum-EMS Industry Professional like me, this era of innovation and technological advancement in the Medical industry, and Medical Devices in particular, is extremely exciting.

I wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know that Creation Technologies and Creation Design Services are this year’s Innovation Station sponsors at the LifeScience Alley, LSA 2014: The Health Technology Leadership Conference, on November 19th at the Minneapolis Convention Center!

LifeScience Alley, its members and people, are great. Much more info about the organization and its members can be found on their great new website, but here’s the overview for anyone not familiar with LSA:

With a 28-year track record of providing valuable services and results-oriented outcomes to its members, LifeScience Alley improves the life science operating environment and enables business success through educating workforces, influencing state and federal public policy, supporting advancement in research and technological innovation and fostering industry connections.

Creation Technologies is exceptionally pleased to be a partner at this year’s conference. We know it will be a great success for LifeScience Alley, as it is every year.

We’ll be sharing more about the conference and our exciting Innovation Station exhibit in the coming months. (Drum roll, please!)

Until then, I’d love to chat about the medical devices and other things that we’re designing at Creation Design Services. Give me a call at 262.501.6686 or send me an email any time.

My colleague, Katie, also loves to “talk tech” and can fill you in on exciting happenings at Creation’s manufacturing business units in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and beyond. She can be reached at 651.242.4344 and any time by email as well.

We invite you to come to any of our Creation Design Centers or Manufacturing Business Units anytime for a visit, check us out at

We look forward to seeing you at LSA 2014 in Minnesota in November!



Send this to a friend