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What’s ‘LIVE’ and Ongoing in this blog now:
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Disclaimer: All information posted in this blog are original unless otherwise stated and remains valid for as long as I have not yet thought of a better way to present them. They are not meant to be prescriptive and used rigidly without forethought.
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05 May 2014

Idea Generation, Refinement and Development

"How to do Idea Generation? How to do Design Development?" These are some of the most commonly asked questions other than the general 'What to do?'.

It is simple actually. For the both of them, focus on getting the functionalities right first. i.e. get your product to work first. By generating and introducing lots of interesting concepts for it to work. Refine and evolve them until you get the best solution. You get instructions for Idea Generation and Development from your list of Design Specification that speaks about the requirements for the project. Build models if you need to test assumptions on how certain features should work. For each of your proposals, take time to evaluate them in terms of practicality and usability w.r.t. the target user you have in mind.  Practicality can be in terms of whether it could be feasilbly made in the school workshop or if you have the skills to make it. More importantly if the target user or if you yourself will use it (in public). Will it be awkward to use? WIll it be complicated to operate? etc. If so think about how it can be simplified in the next few sketches.

Once that is done, you can further simplify your concept - work on simplifying jointing methods. If a change of material can fasten the making process and still function just as good, change it. Work on shapes and forms for enhanced aesthetics and appeal factor.  Decide on the number of parts and dimension them. Don't forget ergonomics and safety. Development for easy maintenance and durability can take the form of material choices and jointing methods.

Always make sure the functions can work first at the idea generation stage. And work on the details in the development stage. Solving every problem you can anticipate. Then develop on everything else in any order. And you'll still end up a decent project.

It will be a big mistake if you work your sequence backwards then work out how to make it work with materials and tools already in your hands in the workshop. This is the consequence of not sufficiently developing the idea and start making for who knows why. And then realised there are lots of mistakes and/or end up solving problems along the way.

Last tip - Work on your idea/concept one feature at a time. One joint at the time. You can only do one thing at a time. And soon you will be ready to combine all these individual decision along the way into one. And there you end up a complete product. Knowing exactly how you will make it.

Once you reach this state, go ahead to plan your Production Schedule. Get your working drawings up. And your Presentation Drawing to have a feel of how your project might be like in the real context. Next, go peacefully and make your product come to life.

P.S. Do not take my sharing as a definite prescription on how you should complete Idea Generation and Development. Take it as a reference and a guide. Think through and be convinced about the steps and sequence I mention. Make your own plan. And then ... DO.

Mr Daniel Lim

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