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hatch product development   Formerly Smith Herrick Engineering
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About
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"If you don't have a competitive
  advantage don"t compete"
— Jack Welch Fz ormer CEO of GE

Patent Research and Competitive Analysis

There are books to be written on this subject, but very simply we at hatch, llc have been through the process numerous times. We will identify, analyze, and work around existing patents that may apply to your particular product. We can then help you research and place your product competitively within that market. Lastly we will identify a production strategy to meet the particular requirements to ensure that your product will hit the market with every advantage for its success.

Manufacturing Method Selection

From your patent research and competitive analysis, you should have a very clear picture of your product. One of the key pieces from this analysis will be A) features and functionality, B) quantity of parts you expect to sell each year, and C) what the magic price point will be. Given these three pieces of information we will identify what method we should use to produce your product, where it will be manufactured, and what materials to utilize. We can also give you a rough estimate of how much it will cost you upfront for tooling, and a piece part cost once in production.

Product Design and Solid Modeling

Given the details of your product we are able to translate your requirements and specifications into working testable solutions inside our software. Solidworks is our heavy lifter when it comes to design. Once we create a representation of the product in SolidWorks it can be manipulated, changed and tested. Interactions and motions of parts can be checked. We can apply loads and determine if parts will fail under normal operating conditions.

DFM/DFA, DFMEA, PFMEA etc...

There is a whole set of terms that are used to describe a process of analyzing your parts, assemblies, production processes, and products upfront to identify problem areas, streamlining opportunities, and product improvements. We apply these methods to all of our designs while in the modeling stage. However, under many conditions it is worth taking the time to conduct a more formal analysis in which we will provide you with full documentation of the process and findings. Our years in the automotive industry have taken us through this process numerous times.

Packaging Analysis and Design

This is often an overlooked piece in a products design. How do you plan to display the product if it is a retail item, how do you plan to ship it when you are making thousands per month. We will design your product with all these factors considered. We can take an existing design and analyze it for packaging efficiencies. Without this critical design aspect, you may be looking at unexpected and unnecessary cost increases when you go into production.

Prototyping and Testing

Proto-typing is a critical step in the design process. There are typically 2 points where you want to consider prototyping. First is before you get too deep into the formal design process.  At this stage you will be investigating design aspects to properly understand critical functions. This could be a new or unknown sealing method, or a mechanism within the parts that needs to be understood in order to move forward with the design. The second prototyping point happens when the design is finished and ready to be manufactured. At this point you will want to create a set of prototypes that closely match your final product. This will serve to confirm all you think you know about the design, as well as reveal any subtleties that you didn't know about. Here at hatch we have partnerships with prototype shops that can create excellent quality prototype parts at a minimal cost in just a few days time. Additionally we have our prototype shop to create, assemble, and test any prototypes that need special attention.

Often it will be necessary to perform some preliminary testing on the prototypes. We call this Design Validation (DV) testing. To do this we create a set of prototypes that are accurate in critical areas, and match production materials as closely as possible. The testing can be as simple as an interference check, or as complicated as running the parts through a life cycle test by performing critical functions through hundreds if not millions of cycles. This will give you confidence in the design before spending large sums of money tooling up for production.

GD&T Detailed Drawings

Detailed drawings are a critical aspect of your design. These will systematically specify the hard dimensions of your product and all the associated parts. They will tell the manufacturers exactly what size to make every feature and nuance in your design, as well as how far from that ideal number you will allow them to stray (tolerance). A system called GD&T will give you additional constraints on the parts that the manufacturer MUST follow. This critical phase ensures that the manufacturer understands what is important to you, and how accurate they have to be on each feature. It also acts as your contract with them. By accepting and signing off on your detailed drawings, they are agreeing that they will meet these dimensions, both on the first parts out of production and forever after.

Sourcing

At hatch we have sourced hundreds of parts utilizing all different manufacturing methods. This includes finding suppliers here in the states and off shore. The principal Mathew Smith spent a year living in China qualifying suppliers, sourcing products, and setting up manufacturing operations. We can help you eliminate any concern typically associated with overseas sourcing.

Product Validation Test Equipment

If the environment that your device will be subjected to is a critical aspect of your success, we will recommend you perform Product Validation (PV) testing. This will come after you have produced your first production parts and you want to see how they will last out in the market place, without subjecting your customers to their potential failures. We have a prototype and fabrication shop where we can build custom equipment that will test your product in a rapid fashion to flush out any potential weak spots in a short period of time. We also have sources to perform any testing that we do not do in house such as Thermal Cycling, Salt Fog, and Vibration testing.

Product Validation Testing Services

If you have a need to test your product in a rapid fashion to expose any weak points in the design, then we can come up with a test plan, manufacture the equipment, and execute the plan for you. This may include an endurance test to cycle your assembly to 1 million cycles, or simply submerge the product under water for a week. We provide full documentation and test reports at the end of this process.

Production Equipment

If the volume of a product you produce reaches a point where manual assembly is no longer feasible, or you are noticing some inefficiencies in your current line, we can certainly solve this problem for you by building production equipment. These devices will help you efficiently pump thousands of product out your door while ensuring quality and eliminating missed operations. We perform a start to finish design, build, and test service for large or small projects.

Poke-Yoke Assembly Devices and Fixtures

This is a funny term for mistake proofing. Obviously you can't send your product out the door with a critical component missing. The Poke-yoke process ensures that you can no longer do this. It may be as simple as creating a test device to verify that you have all the components, or it may be an elaborate assembly station that does not allow the parts to fit together unless every previous step has been performed and performed correctly.

End of Line Test Equipment

If you have a complex product then most likely you will need to verify that it is working correctly before you send it out the door. If you have electronics involved this creates further complexity. We can design and build equipment that will verify all the critical aspects of your product. From checking electrical outputs, to verifying assembly functionality, we can build a machine to quantitatively test and record almost any function.

 
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