Case Study: Sun Shield

Through a mutual contact, I was approached by a start-up company called Sun Shield.   They had this concept that had been prototyped of a sunscreen dispenser.  They had funding from a Kickstarter campaign, but now needed to convert the design into a final production ready product.  This was to include identifying off-the-shelf parts, evaluate battery options, and provide mold-ready files for their chosen tooling manufacturing as well as follow up support through tool build and production parts.

Because the Sun Shield Team was new to product development, there was a general lack of understanding how to take a product to tooling, and what the requirements would be in order to get their product ready for sale.  In additional to creating the mold-ready files for manufacturing, there were technical challenges that were addressed to help insulate the design for harsh environments, minimize the possibility of water intrusion, and ensure the design was robust enough to handle potential vandalism.

Having great ideas really helps in creating a great product, especially one that can help prevent skin cancer, but getting the product to market in a cost-effective manner was the daunting task that presented itself, and what would cause anxiety for the team throughout the process.  Throughout the project, and into tooling, the Team and I met in person, via Skype and by conference calls and emails to help minimize errors and rework in the China manufacturing plant.

Without a product designer like myself to help guide and verify the design throughout the process, the client would of been forced handle all of the discussion with the Asia manufactures without fully understanding the full product development process.

It is not difficult to find someone who can make 3D models, but making them ready for tooling, and having a complete understanding of the tooling and manufacturing process is a vital need of my clients that makes my services unique to the field ensuring they get the product they want, and decipher the documentation and discussions that arise from tooling and manufacturing vendors.

Throughout the design process, I would review the design and develop changes as the internal requirements (such as the motor) were updated until we were ready to send to the tooling vendor.  Tooling vendors use a technique called DFM (Design for Manufacturing) This is a report that gives their client a run-down on changes they feel would help them make the tools.  These changes sometimes conflict with the product design, and if there is no-one with experience in reviewing DFM reports, it presents a significant problem to a product team to try to choose between their product design goals, and a tooling preference.

Through many years of experience, I helped the client navigate the change requests, and have clear communications to the vendor what was acceptable and can be changed, and what would be a violation of the product design.  Solutions were developed that addressed both the client and vendor, and the tools were able to be made.  This experience and communication assistance with vendors is an unique service for a product design firm and because of the ability to do this avoids many pitfalls that can cause tooling to be redone.   In fact, as part of my services, I helped review the clients first shots, and found a few places where the vendor had made structural changes to the design that was causing it to flex too much.  Without being able to review the digital file and physical and know what to look for, these could cause product failure or mold rework at the client’s cost.  Instead, the vendor had to update the tooling at their expense, and product did not go out into the field that would have been too flimsy.

Some direct quotes from the client after project completion:

What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from hiring Catz Design Farm?
Sun Shield is a small startup with big aspirations to create a paradigm shift in the way the general public views skin cancer by providing free sunscreen. The main obstacle for us was financing the next phase of development which required a complete redesign for manufacturing optimization.

What did you find as a result of the hire?
Based on glowing recommendations and Catz Design Farm experience we knew we were lucky to have someone helping us through the entire design process that has made a career working with top industry professionals across multiple disciplines.

What specific feature did you like most about the services provided?
Catz Design Farm went above and beyond to not only produce an aesthetically beautiful design but helped us navigate the design for manufacturing process based on his many years of experience with plastics, electronics, hardware, and design intuition.

What would be three other benefits of this service?
– Prompt and professional responses – updates in a timely manor
– Flexible and adaptable design process
– Enthusiastic and eager to help create the best possible product

Would you recommend this Catz Design Farm for others needing product development?
Yes, Catz Design Farm can help any business big or small go from concept to creation. There are many grey areas that a young company may not have experience with, Catz Design Farm can help steer the production schedule and create a product streamlined, ready for tooling and manufacturing.

If so, why? Is there anything you’d like to add?
Catz Design Farm displays a unique ability to not only produce your design but make real-time modifications and additions that can help a business owner produce the best quality product while keeping an eye on the bottom. Catz Design Farm has an extremely wide knowledge base that can manage wasted production time and associated costs based on years of design experience and real world know-how.