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About I.D.milano
Why hire us?
Process


5 phases
The figure to the left illustrates the 5 phases of our full-service design process, but most of the time our customers are looking for more specific services.

This plays into one of our strengths which is flexibility. We understand that every customer is different and we tailor our services to suit your product and your company. Using a restaurant analogy, our full service would constitute a 5-course set dinner menu. We also offer "a la carte" services. For example, we have a client that relies on us for blue sky ideas (Phase 2) but does all their development internally. We have another that use us solely for difficult 3D modeling in Phase 3 and another that relies on us for engineering existing designs in Pro/Engineer.

 
discovery

Key Activity
Research
Other Activities
Competitive product research
Design trend research
End user questionnaire
User needs priority survey
Component layout concepts
Product configuration study (foam models)
Ergonomic analysis (foam models)

Typical Deliverables
Questionnaires
Interview Results
Product Research

This is the probably the most critical and yet the most overlooked phase of Product Development. This is where we do the research, where we get to grips with understanding the particular Market and the typical customer. From this Discovery comes Opportunity. The subsequent phases aim to take advantage of this opportunity by creating the most appropriate product for your customers' needs. By taking some time to understand expectations, past experiences, priorities, etc, there will be considerably less grief down the road when surprises come up. We research emerging technology that may help customers either on this project or the next. During this phase we remove our designers hat and dress up as the customer. We work, think, sleep, and dream like our customer. In fact, any attempt by a team member to pre-conceive a solution and start sketching is quickly quashed by the rest of the team! This phase is about immersion in the customers environment - understanding their problems, difficulties - feeling their aspirations.

ideation

Key Activity
Sketching
Other Activites

Kick-off / project team brainstorming
Concept exploration and sketch generation
Sketches of assembly and construction issues
Interface, access and storage concepts
Concept refinement sketches
Foam appearance model construction

Typical Deliverables
Sketches for multiple design directions
Foam model mock-ups
Construction and assembly concept sketches

Put your creative cap on and get sketching! This is the fun part! We just love to collaborate. Our crazy brainstorming sessions provide the kick-start that individual designers need to get going. We tend to have periods when individual designers can concentrate in isolation and then this time is punctuated with intense collaborative sessions where literally anything goes. We follow the same tried and tested rules as IDEO and others whereby absolutely no criticism is allowed. We use diverse methods for inspiring solutions and getting those creative juices flowing. During the Conception Phase we have frequent client meetings. Part of the reason for this is hand-holding, but also, sometimes we come up with ideas that are very good, but its not exactly what the client asked for where it is possible to realign direction or simply slip it in your back pocket for a future project. At the end of this period we separate the wheat from the chaff by aggressively removing the weakest or most inappropriate designs. Although most of the work is done using pencil, we make frequent use of hand-crafted 3D polystyrene models.

The value-added to your organizaion is the most tangible at this point. Incredible value considering that for a small investment, you get new design proposals that could improve the fortunes of your company. You own the rights to all the ideas we create and we don't ask for a royalty.

design

Key Activity
Build detailed 3D CAD model
Typical Tasks
Design refinement sketches
2D design control drawing of chosen concept
Define all external design features
Photo-realistic rendering build
Colour and graphic study
Specification update and initial Bill of Materials
Coordinate aesthetic hard model construction

Typical Deliverables
3D CAD model (Pro/E)
Photo-rendering
Hard model or SLA

Here we take forward one or two (and occasionally more) designs from the Ideation Phase and rapidly realize them in 3D. We always use Pro/Engineer software because of its ability to create complex, high-quality, parametric surfaces. We always build draft into features from the outset (for moulded parts). Before we start, we know how the assembly is going to be split up into discrete parts. We have an approximate idea about how the parts will be held together Typically, because we're human, there will be multiple iterations going back and forth between the Designer, the Surfacing Engineer and the Customer. While we are primarily concerned with the functionality, appearance and ergonomics of the outside (cavity side) of the product, we always start building our surfaces around a components package supplied by the customer or created by us. This ensures that there will be space for internal hardware and any required changes during future steps will be minimal.

engineering Key Activity
Define all engineering details
Typical Tasks

Source and specify purchased components
Finalize assembly sequence
Build 3D database of all parts and components
Database corrections from design input
Specify materials, colours, textures and final graphics
Manage prototype build with chosen vendor

Typical Deliverables
Database of all parts and components
Colour, material and finish specifications
Final artwork and graphic layout
Semi-functional prototype

Now, we get to Engineering. Up to this point, we've worked on the visible, "customer side" of the product. This phase, sometimes called "detailed design" is involved with the creation of internal, "core-side" geometry. Depending on the product, this is typically the most time-consuming part of development. Here, we model the bosses, ribs, snaps, etc. and add hardware such as fasteners, gaskets, etc. We make sure there are adequate clearances and that the product can be assembled easily. We sometimes need to design mechanisms and conduct simplified finite element analysis for strength evaluation. At the end of this phase, the database is ready to send to the toolmaker.

production Typical Tasks
Review prototype with manufacturer
Modify database as necessary
Create critical dimension documentation
First article review
Modify database as necessary
Create final documentation package to client requirements
Assembly verification
Aesthetic validation

Typical Deliverables
Functioning proto-tool parts
Updated database
Final documentation package
Bill of materials

Whether you are building prototype or production tools, we are available to manage communications with the toolmaker, review first article parts, and implement and manage any required database changes. If desired we also help select a tool-maker for prototype and production tooling. We can also manage changes to the 3D database and the tool. We have good contacts within the moulding industry in Italy.
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