This edition of our newsletter will focus, among other things, on two new financial assistance programs. It also covers how to design and develop new products using “fast-track” methods, as well as the advantages of designing and developing new, innovative products even during economic crises.
What About the Recession?
Though a recession is an economic slowdown filled with uncertainty both in conditions and duration, it can become an advantage for businesses that decide to keep on designing and developing new products, for example, by continuously improving their existing products. Advantage, say you? Of course, because when the economy later rebounds, proactive businesses will enjoy a leading edge on their competitors.
In this period of economic turmoil, we must demonstrate imagination and sometimes even intellectual audacity. This can mean the opportunity to reduce manufacturing costs by developing new products, but also by applying development and manufacturing processes better suited to new consumer realities.
“Fast-Track” Design and Development
Astute and skillful industrial designers increasingly resort to various fast prototyping processes in order to quickly and efficiently validate new 3D-drawn designs at the computer. Fast prototyping refers to the different processes that enable to build prototypes using machines related to and behaving like printers, which “print” a series of stacked (superimposed) layers until a three-dimensional plastic resin item is obtained. These plastic resins have considerably evolved over the past several years and are no longer as brittle as those used back in the early 1990s. Some resins can even simulate rubber or various types of plastic whose mechanical properties can sometimes fall near those of an injection moulding-produced plastic resin. In addition, there are also computerized numerical control (CNC) machines that enable to develop prototypes from various materials such as wood, plastic or metal.
Once the client has validated and approved the prototype, it becomes possible to manufacture temporary moulds (in particular, out of epoxy or silicone) in order to produce samples for sales representatives, then evaluate how the market receives the new product before green-lighting production mould manufacturing. These temporary moulds, much more affordable than steel moulds for plastic injection, also make for a strategic and more responsible way of obtaining venture capital financing from financial institutions such as the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) or Investissement Québec. This holds even more true in this shaky economic spell where credit is more difficult to obtain. Thus industrial designers can be considered key partners in reducing financial risk.
Financial Assistance Programs for Marketing
These days, governments promote their various programs to stimulate development of new, innovative products. For example, the MDEIE (Ministère du développement économique, de l’innovation et de l’exportation) has very recently implemented two new financial assistance programs to fuel new product marketing, thus following the logical trend of support offered for product innovation. The two programs are entitled “Technical Validation” and “Technological Showcase”.
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