Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is one of the most important processes of new product development.

I lead a group of young Boy Scouts. As the scouts prepare for their first camp out and hike they learn several outdoor safety and survival skills. This includes many firsts for them, their first exposure to first aid, their first time packing a backpack, their first night spent in a tent, and their first time striking a match. Coaching, preparation, and skill are key to great hikes and campouts.



Similarly, coaching, preparation, and skill are key to successful new product development. Just as failing to prepare can ruin even the best camp out or turn a glorious hike into a deplorable journey, those involved in developing a new product can run into sleepless nights and failed product journeys.

The process of going from idea, through prototyping, manufacturing, and final delivery can be undermined by ignoring what could be considered the outdoor safety and survival skills of product development. Let’s look at three top reasons why new product development can fail.

Here are the Top 3 Reasons Why New Product Development Fails:

1. The design cannot be manufactured.
You have a wonderful idea, complete with detailed CAD files. But without considering the realities of manufacturing, your design may be doomed from the start. Ignored Design for Manufacturability (DFM) has been the demise of too many brilliant product ideas.

How can you avoid ignoring DFM?
Focus on proactively designing and re-designing products optimized for all areas of manufacturing: fabrication, assembly, testing, procurement, shipping, delivery, service, and repair. At Radius we make sure each product meets strict standards for cost, quality, reliability, regulatory compliance, safety, and time-to-market. Our team of designers and engineers have leveraged DFM skills for thousands of products for hundreds of customers.

2. If manufactured as designed, costs would be too high.
Your idea looks great on paper and you may even have a working prototype. But your design doesn’t take into consideration the true costs of production, either in low volumes or at scale. Even the greatest new product will not succeed if the economics don’t work.

How do you control costs?

It’s estimated that approximately 70% of a product’s manufacturing cost is determined by its design. An elegant design may look good, but is the extravagance validated by market research indicating a higher willingness to pay for the extravagance? We look deep inside markets through market research, industry analysis, and human factor analysis to validate product features, ideas and strategies.

Designing for a manufacturing method that makes economic sense for the product is also crucial. Take, for example, elaborate product design with parts made possible because of additive manufacturing. But if 3D printing economics don’t work in your favor, an injection molding or CNC machining produce the same parts without breaking the bank? We understand the cost-benefit analysis for this situation and more.

A look at how a product is manufactured can also result in cost savings. Thanks to our intimate relationship with our parent and global contract manufacturer, Jabil, we know how to automate in order to reduce production costs for scaled manufacturing. And when it comes to component costs, through Jabil’s worldwide parts and supply chain network of over 27,000 suppliers we are able to secure components at lower costs even for the smallest low volume assembly runs.

3. Prototype fails to convince customers, executives, and investors.
Your 3D printed prototype looks like a plastic kid toy. Can the way it looks convince even early adopters to spend? Will your business unit manager buy into the idea that they should allocate budget to something that looks like a gimmick? Will a VC, who is likely to have seen a dozen similar products, invest in your idea if they’ve seen a similar prototype with a true looks-like, feels-like professional finish?

How can you make convincing prototypes?

The best prototypes don’t ‘look’ like prototypes, they look like the real thing and are convincing and compelling to customers, executives, and investors. Radius designers offer an exceptional advantage when it comes to testing and re-testing prototypes. They make sure that prototypes not only meet all DFM specifications but that the final working prototype is a looks-like, feels-like finished product.

What if a fully functioning, looks-like, feels-like prototype would be too expensive? Our Radius DFM experts can pair physical prototyping with augmented reality. This can save tens of thousands of dollars in the DFM process. Check out this glimpse at how our design team leverages Microsoft HoloLens to test and visualize new prototypes: