Beyond Product Design

by Mitch Bossart, Industry Writer for GoEngineer

Focus Product Design

Focus Product Design leverages technology solutions from GoEngineer to take its customers from Design-to-Market™.


Making it doesn’t mean you’ve made it

Up to 95% of new products fail, according to AcuPoll, a Cincinnati research agency.

Adam Tavin, founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based Focus Product Design, or Focus PDM, as it’s known in the industry, wants to change that statistic. He believes it’s his company’s job to help customers succeed, which goes way beyond simply providing CAD services.

Focus PDM’s customers range from inventors, engineers, and entrepreneurs with lots of ideas and passion to venture-backed startups and public companies that know the process cold but strategically outsource design, engineering, prototyping and, sometimes, manufacturing. What they all share is the desire to shape their world by making something better or inventing something completely new.

But for the inventors and engineers, gaining market acceptance and winning sales is often not even on their radar.

“Many entrepreneurs we work with have no sales and marketing experience,” says Tavin. The worst thing we can do is design their first product, help them get it produced, and leave them with a garage full of stuff they can’t sell. The best thing we can do is get them to the finish line, which means successful retail sales and loyal customers.”

Product Design - alternate medium

CAD matters

Tavin himself started out in 1998 as a contract mechanical engineer, work that required proficiency in several different CAD packages. He read about a product called SOLIDWORKS that sounded much faster and easier to learn than the de facto CAD standards of the late 90s: UG, SDRC I-DEAS, and Pro/ENGINEER.

Once Tavin had the opportunity to try SOLIDWORKS, he immersed himself in it, becoming somewhat of an expert. After that, he told everyone who’d listen all about this new product called SOLIDWORKS.

“Early on in my career, one of the companies I was contracting for had already placed a purchase order for Pro/ENGINEER,” Tavin recalls. “I convinced them to pull the P.O. and buy SOLIDWORKS instead; I told them SOLIDWORKS was more efficient so you could get projects done faster. Plus, learning SOLIDWORKS was so much easier.”

Being a contractor required Tavin to rely on a variety of SOLIDWORKS resellers for training and support through the years, but when he started Focus PDM, he selected GoEngineer, a local reseller of both SOLIDWORKS and Stratasys 3D printers.

“The customer service is far and away the best at GoEngineer,” says Tavin. “It was a no-brainer to pick them as my reseller.”

Selecting the right tools and processes

Focus PDM sees a wide assortment of projects, from hand grip accessories for the GoPro camera to medical devices and from consumer electronics to kitchen appliances—and much more. Many projects require several rounds of iteration during the product development process. Consequently, machined parts can become expensive in two important categories: time and money.

That’s why Focus PDM started asking GoEngineer more about 3D printing.

Today the company has two Stratasys 3D printers on site, an Objet and an FDM machine. The Objet printer is able to print both rubber-like and rigid materials, which was extremely helpful on a recent handgrip project for the GoPro that required multiple iterations for testing.

“It allowed us to get an actual, real-world feel for the size of the handle. Then, we could easily test it using different-sized hands. Best of all, we knew exactly what it would look like at the end,” concludes Tavin.

Focus PDM now does lots of quick-turn iterations, typically in only 24 to 48 hours. But, Tavin says they haven’t abandoned going to metal.

“When major testing is needed, such as drop testing or engineering validation or functional models, we may switch to a subtractive process. But we use the process that makes the most sense. Sometimes that means additive and sometimes it means subtractive.”

Market success is the goal

Focus PDM has been growing very rapidly over the past several years. Almost every month the company adds additional services that accommodate the needs of their entrepreneur and start-up customers. The company’s business model is laser-focused on making its customers successful, and its Design-to-Market™ philosophy leads the charge.

“The more successful our customers are, the more successful we are; we take that very seriously here at Focus,” states Tavin. “To get someone to the finish line producing and successfully marketing their product is a win for everyone.”

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