Machine Design

How not to kill innovation

At MD&M West 2014, the chief of the industrial design firm Kablooe will discuss ways engineers can avoid accidently derailing the development of innovative medical products.

Some companies are extremely good at shooting down innovative ideas. That's one of the reasons Tom Kramer, president of the Minneapolis industrial design firm Kablooe, will speak next week on the steps firms should take in the medical device product development process to arrive at truly creative ideas while exploring the due diligence necessary to get there. In a presentation at the MD&M West 2014 conference in Anaheim, Kramer will also look at how human factors engineering plays a role in this part of the development plan. 

Kramer says engineering firms are prone to a number of common pitfalls that end up being innovation and creativity killers during new product development. One in particular is that of leaping into engineering work at the beginning of the development process before the research and design is complete. "This locks people into their first concept," he says. "As they then move through the development process, they find it is costly to change things. When you spend a lot of CAD and engineering time doing the detailed engineering work at the beginning, you hestitate to throw it away if you find out you need a different approach."

Kramer's firm came to these conclusions from its work with medical manufacturers -- 80% of Kablooe's projects are in the medical field, Kramer says. The products are generally based on hardware with software being a component but generally not the product's critical element. 

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