2020 – A Revolution in Product Design?

As the strangest year that was 2020 comes to an end we thought we’d do a quick round-up of the year that no-one truly expected, and offer up our thoughts on how 2020 could have been bordering on a product design revolution!

Outsourcing your product design and enticing entrepreneurs to unleash their concepts were our two key objectives as 2020 dawned upon us. But who truly believed the landscape would shift quite so dramatically?

When the news of Covid really hit the nation, the world, and the entire economy, Conficio were pretty much Covid-ready. Our entire organisation, although still young, had been built to be flexible. Although we love getting the team together in the studio, we’ve always offered remote and flexible working; from day one we felt that work-life balance is paramount to productivity and good staff morale.

As we entered lockdown the team were doing all they could to keep up everyone’s spirits and adapt our approach to business to help our customers and network where possible. What unfolded before us, was fascinating, from a design perspective.

Covid Creations – Innovating for Life

The Covid situation almost immediately became inspirational as far as product design and technological advancements were concerned. Not only did we witness businesses implementing work-from-home strategies and technologies that would usually take months or years to rollout, but we also saw some quick thinking in terms of product design.

We were so inspired to see James Dyson lead his team to create a new high specification ventilator, Co-Vent, in response to Boris Johnson’s plea for more of these life saving machines. Not only did Dyson’s team create prototype ventilator in an impressive 2 weeks, but Dyson also offered to provide 5,000 of these machines at no cost, to get saving lives quicker. It seems that the project did not play out, following a change in specifications by the government, along with a lengthy lead time for regulation on the machines.

Either way, Dyson clearly demonstrated the value of product design in response to a crisis and really showed what is truly possible when the chips are down!

Image: Co-Vent by Dyson

Header image: Isinnova S.R.L.

Pertinent Product Design

Meanwhile other businesses, small, large and anything in between were also busy innovating for a positive impact on the crisis. From concepts such as personal protection pods to perhaps more believable products, such as personalised face masks printed with your own face, the pandemic showed us that the world of innovation was certainly still turning. In fact, Covid could almost have marked a revolution in product design, as it really highlighted the true capabilities of businesses and individuals alike, when the proverbial really hits the fan.

Image: Sun Dayong

3D Printing to the Fore

During this time we’ve also seen some really impressive uses in 3D printing. With the problems created by the virus, a speedier solution to creation, or supply of particular products, was required, really bringing 3D printing into its own.

Italian start-up Isinnova used reverse engineering to create a pattern for a mass run of 3D printed ventilator valves, as the crisis really took hold across Italy. Isinnova CEO Fracassi achieved this within a jaw-dropping 6 hours, enabling these lifesaving valves to get to work swiftly.  The same team at Isinnova also teamed up with Decathlon to help turn their scuba masks into ventilation masks using a specifically create component named the Charlotte Valve. Isinnova also cleverly protected this component to ensure it cannot be sold for profit.

Image: Isinnova S.R.L.

Belgium based 3D printing experts created a hands-free door opener in response to the crisis, making the design files available at no charge, or allowing the customer to order direct.

The quick thinking and generous acts of goodwill, both in professional and community terms throughout 2020, we think you’ll agree have been pretty impressive.

The Value of Outsourcing in a Crisis

Meanwhile, with companies furloughing staff left, right and centre, that really put businesses with the flexible approach to remote working, in a position to be able to offer support to those who suddenly found themselves with critical projects but no staff available to execute them.

Conficio stepped in to offer this level of support to our partners and network, providing expertise in terms of not only product design, but outsourced electronics and software support. Whilst it was observed that a lot of businesses weren’t really sure how credible it was to promote themselves during this time, the situation clearly called for a ‘new world’, when it came to how businesses were operating.

The Risk Management is Real

If nothing else, this year has really been a clear demonstration that your risk management plan matters – the risk is real! So as we look toward 2021 (peeking through our hands for fear of what could be coming this time…), seeking to ensure we are partnering with companies that we can truly help when it really matters.

If your team can benefit from outsourced services from product design to rapid prototyping, electronics design to software build, we are here for it! Contact Andy at andy@conficio.design to get connected, so we can be on-hand when you need it the most!

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