Ipeology are a Manchester – based design company working in a creative environment in an old mill alongside other designers and artists. Director Damien Vesey explained how the company came together after he and some of the other designers worked at Salford University helping students particularly in the area of production, prototyping and packaging before consolidating the team when working for a company developing equipment and products for large sports companies.
As well as developing products for others they also work on their own products and have built up a significant number of contacts both here and abroad in manufacturing and retail. Damien explained the process which Ipeology uses to determine whether they can work with a customer who approaches them. This process involves questionnaires, confidentiality agreements, project assessment meetings and finally a contract. They can take a product from the idea stage through development, prototyping, testing and packaging. Very often they take what the customer has done already and may develop it further. As an example Damien described how they had worked with Kin Kam on his” iicap” and developed it into a clip which can work on any cap.
Damien and his team went on to describe some of the other products they have been involved with (and several of which they had brought along for the audience to study) including “Bugzy” a folding trolley with which to transport canoes. This was developed from the inventor’s original cardboard model which he had brought to Ipeology. Numerous other examples were passed around the group.
Different strategies often have to be used depending very much upon the product and the market. Prototyping can be expensive and anyone developing a product also needs to look at the intellectual property aspect – what can be protected, what costs are involved? This all needs to be built in to the project and a time-line constructed so that deadlines and costs can be monitored.
A discussion followed on how technology has changed in design. Damien described how they used to work from drawn designs, then 3-D modelling came along, rapid prototyping and how CAD software can now go straight to 3D printers. A process of actually “printing” structures such as concrete is now being talked about. Some of the software and equipment available can actually save the cost of tooling up, particularly for short production runs.
Altogether it was a very useful insight into the practical side of product development.
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