“But My Design Was Validated!”


As many of you know, at EastBridge Engineering (www.eb-intl.com) our role in the product development process begins once the design of a new product is mostly finished and in the can. We go to work when we have conceptual drawings, design files and sometimes a prototype in hand. At our core, we’re all manufacturing guys and gals – our charter is to get your product successfully through the manufacturing launch cycle and landed on your dock in commercial quantities.

We leave the generation of compelling designs to people that are much more creative than I am. Elements such as product ideation, visual brand language, product landscape analysis and design realization are all best left to design professionals. They know what they’re doing on the design front and we know which end is up on the manufacturing and sourcing front in Asia. Our abilities and services compliment one another.

There is one area where we sometimes get sideways with our professional colleagues in design. That is the concept of ‘design validation.’ We don’t really have a conflict with the designers. The challenge we face is with managing the expectations of our shared clients.

They expect that once the CAD files are transferred, prototypes built and their new designs are “validated” everything is carved in stone, unchangeable (and not in need of change) and getting their finished products is simply a matter of the manufacturer connecting the dots.

Guess what… It doesn’t work that way in the real world. No amount of computer modeling, drawing analysis and iterative prototyping and can totally eliminate all of the little changes and tweaks that happen on the factory floor.

Why did we need to find and use longer screws (and a slightly thicker gasket material)? Because the cast aluminum enclosure that met the theoretical design standard and aesthetic requirement won’t hold tolerance. We needed to increase the thickness of one area of the casting in order to make the design repeatable and ship the finished product on time. Why was an alternate conformal coating used? Because the SKU specified was on back order and sticking with it would delay the project three weeks.

All understandable and logical – right? Apparently not when your expectation is that the design is fixed forevermore and any change will make the product unsalable.

So… Please expect several small changes during the scale up to volume production. Please understand that we’ll have to throw a few units from the initial run in the trash can. And please understand that we’re on your side and will make our recommended changes only after consulting with you the client.


Jack Daniels

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