How We Work
Work with Inventherm
At Inventherm we strive to be a trusted development partner that works closely with our clients to achieve outstanding outcomes.
There are inherent challenges and risks when developing new products and technologies. Working with an experienced and knowledgeable team is crucial for success. However, success requires more than just technical acumen, it requires strong relationships nurtured by honest services and tangible results.
Not all projects are the same.
They can last from hours to years and require one engineer or many. Clients are no less diverse. Inventherm has worked with single-person startups to established multi-national corporations.
To accommodate the varied needs of our clients, we offer a number of flexible business arrangements. These vary from billing for time and materials, to fixed-price contracts. We have, at times, become equity investors in client companies and are often involved at the proposal stage of federally funded projects.
A new product or technology is intended to provide a better solution to a problem. Once the problem has been identified, develop begins with creating concepts to solve the problem. This step is also referred to as ideation. While Inventherm’s expertise is used to guide the process, we work hand-in-hand with our clients to formulate product specifications and flush out concepts that best meet the project objectives.
As part of this process, we often investigate competing technologies, published literature and related prior art, allowing us to combine innovative thinking with practical solutions. This is also the time to begin protecting intellectual property. As inventors ourselves with dozens of patents, Inventherm can help clients develop their patent portfolio and can bridge the knowledge gap that often exists between our clients and patent attorneys.
The analysis, or research stage, of the project sheds light on the technical uncertainties permeating the early stages of development. Various forms of engineering expertise are employed to eliminate these uncertainties.
Analysis is used to answer a wide range of project specific questions. For example, “What materials should be used? What will the size and weight be? How much power is required?” In some cases, questions of technical feasibility will need to be researched.
From initial sketches or mental images, detailed design of the physical components of the system are created using 3-D solid modeling software. This detailed design work includes determining the exact processes for manufacturing prototype parts, and what the manufacturing tolerances will be for those parts.
Our analysis and material science expertise guides the selection of the specific materials that will be used. Any off-the-shelf components needed for the prototype are specified and sourced.
A prototype is an early version of an actual physical product. Not just a mockup, it is a working system that performs all or some of the intended functions of the final product. For complex systems, it is common to first prototype parts of the complete system for testing and evaluation before a complete system prototype is developed.
Inventherm maintains a comprehensive state-of-the-art prototyping facility. In most cases, we are able to fabricate all or most of a prototype in-house. This allows us to greatly accelerate the development process and reduce costs.
Once prototypes have been constructed, it is time for testing to begin. The testing process determines how well the prototype performs its intended function. It also can involve demonstrating other important characteristics, such as safety and reliability.
Depending on the project, testing can be as simple as a subjective assessment of ergonomics, to thousands of hours of detailed data collection and analysis. Inventherm is expertly equipped for performing a wide range of test procedures. Our in-house testing capabilities drives costs downward and boosts development efficiency.
Design iteration is the process of designing, prototyping, testing, and then repeating these steps. Once the prototype has been tested, we take what we learned from testing to update the design.
Rather than an indication of a deficient development process, design iteration is a powerful tool that leads to the best possible product. This important step takes a good product and makes it great.
Design for Manufacturing
By necessity, the manufacturing methods used for making prototypes are typically different from the processes used for commercial production. Examples include transitioning from 3D printing to injection molding for plastic parts, and transitioning from machining solid billet to castings for metal parts. When prototypes are performing as planned, the process of transitioning to a manufacturable design begins.
Inventherm’s team are experts in the manufacturing methods used for prototyping and production. With Inventherm, manufacturing considerations are not an afterthought. We have the end goal in mind during early project stages, so that transitioning to a manufacturable design is smooth and efficient.
Inventherm stays with our clients as long as needed, up to and through the launch phase. Our team has extensive manufacturing experience, with production volumes ranging from a few units to hundreds of thousands of units per year. We can perform initial production runs, setup your production facility, or assist with setting up contract manufacturing.
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