Living in the new normal

The way we live and the way we go about our work, day to day has slowly eroded the quality of life for many and undeniably had a negative impact on the environment. In our last news article we touched on what a post-lockdown world could be like if everyone takes the time now to consider where their priorities should lie both at a personal and at a professional level.

After much discussion between all of us this is how we have embraced the new normal. The biggest change for us has been the relocation of some of our staff as a result of social distancing measures. There were some teething issues to do with the UKs inability to balance upload and download speeds in rural areas but we soon had everyone adapting to a new way of working.

In the office we have made changes including staggered breaktimes, availability of PPE and become more aware of not gathering around the printers etc. For those that work from home there has been an improvement in the work/life balance and with the assistance of modern technology, it is possible to liaise between those who need to come into the office and those who can work from home to maintain what is essentially a normal working week. With clients based across the UK and overseas, we were already geared up for remote conferencing and real time on-screen CAD viewing to discuss projects so it is unlikely clients will note any difference.

We think it is important to talk about what we have done because providing guidance and support to our clients, is a large part of our work as product designers. If we can practice what we preach and show resilience as a business, offer sustainable alternatives, cost saving measures and a more beneficial way of working, we can encourage these businesses to look at their own work priorities. We hope this would inspire them to look at how they too can embrace the new normal.

What else can we learn about the new normal as product designers and how do we respond?

The designer and the client have a responsibility to be mindful of the end use of the products they collaborate to design. With many goods in shorter supply and retailers also in lockdown, many consumers have utilised their right to repair and shown great intuition to fix what they have. Unfortunately for many years the right to repair has not been something manufacturers have wanted to support and the opportunity to repair products is limited mostly by having no spare parts available. If there was a mindset to create products that are intuitive to fix this would help combat our ‘throw away society’.

Now is a great time to open discussions and champion this approach. We believe this is a crucial role for Product Designers and manufacturers to address on a global scale.

If you are about to embark on a new product development and would like more information about how you could benefit from our insight, please contact us today.

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Private Inventor home truths

At some stage or another many of us will have an idea for a new product; a product which we believe will become the next great invention. This is very exciting but it is easy to be swept up in the excitement of being a private inventor and to count those chickens before they hatch.

Over the years we have talked to many private inventors and we always dread the calls from those inventors who have spent their precious resources only to end up with artistic CAD drawings of their product and a big cost milestone in their patent application. Sadly, this type of call often comes at a time when the private inventor has run out of money, out of time to secure investment and now face losing the exclusive rights to their own invention.

How does this happen?

Many private inventors cannot fund the entire process of bringing a product to the market and they require investment. Investment is not easy to secure. There are some companies who offer ‘help’ to private inventors by offering artistic CAD drawings and a patent application. The danger is to think that having a pretty picture with a patent application will be enough to get an investor on board. Is this really enough? An investor is looking at investment as a business risk; so they need to be convinced that their risk is manageable and there will be enough reward in taking that risk. So, what does an investor really look for when making their decision to invest?

• The investor will undertake due diligence using their own professional IP resource to establish if the intellectual property the inventor has is adequate (relevant, robust, defendable) and is worth maintaining.

• The investor will want properly researched and presented facts and figures to demonstrate the size of the potential market for the invention, and its competitive landscape. This will include a competitor’s analysis and a patent landscape, ideally with a freedom to operate analysis.

• The investor will want to know the costs of developing the invention into a manufactured product. Development can involve considerable expenditure in prototypes, tooling, testing, compliance and approvals.

• The investor will want to know costs of branding, packaging, marketing, stock holding and distribution.

To put it simply, investors need to be presented with a properly designed and costed product supported by robust intellectual property.

At Sated Design we have a team of design and engineering experts who all share a passion for creating successful products. We are supported by Chartered UK Patent Attorneys from world class intellectual property firms. Our track record is proven by hundreds of products and thousands of component parts taken from the first sketch all the way through to manufacturing, sometimes in their millions.

If you have an idea for a great new pleasure product, contact us today.

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Thinking beyond the ETO Show

We were extremely disappointed to learn of the postponement of this year’s ETO Show, which should have taken place this week. Tradeshows like these provide a great opportunity to network and take the pulse of the current marketplace. There are a number of brand new exhibitors which we were really looking forward to meeting. Never mind, let’s look forward to later in the year.

We are definitely ‘glasses half full’ kind of people and perhaps this current global situation as a result of the Covid-19 could actually pave the way for some really exciting New Product Development (NPD) in the adult toy marketplace.

Reported just this week is a growth of 13% in adult toy sales over the last fortnight as people begin a period of self isolation. The demand is there and we are certain there will be many of you out there with their heads full of new ideas for brilliant new adult toys or pleasure products.

Consider this: The current restrictions on flights, exhibitions and even possibly day to day working conditions will mean home working and time away from the office for reflection. Ask yourself, where do you want your business to be when these restrictions are lifted and how can you be ahead of the game?

Perhaps you’ve had an idea kicking around for ages but time has never allowed you to take it any further. Now is as good a time as any to take the bull by the horns and make it a reality!

This is where Sated Design can help you.

Our design process methods can get you to the point of manufacture so you are poised and ready to hit “GO” once the manufacturing industry is showing signs of recovery. We have a comprehensive range of in-house capabilities including 3D printing, CNC machining, model making and silicone casting, meaning that all prototyping can be done right here in our office. We are able to use CAD to create parts and assemblies ready to provide to manufacturers for quotation and production.

We don’t even need to physically meet up either. Our remote conferencing facilities mean we can discuss projects virtually and do on screen reviews.

Pre-planning will make the difference when it comes to securing the future of your business. If you have a great idea and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality, get in touch today.

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The potential of Industry 4.0

Much like SexTech, the manufacturing industry is on the cusp of its latest revolution. Industry 4.0 takes what was started in Industry 3.0 with the adoption of computers and automation and enhances it with networks of smart and autonomous technology that will collect large amounts of data. Through Industry 4.0 it is now becoming possible for these data systems to communicate important information about maintenance, performance and other product insights without any human interaction whatsoever. The consensus from industry experts is that the potential effects of these “conversations” on our manufacturers are huge and will ultimately result in quicker and more efficient, productive operations which will ultimately save them time and money.

The potential of Industry 4.0 is being realised by those organisations who are already adopting these smart technologies. You would not be on your own in assuming that Industry 4.0 is only realised by large corporations but the reality is that smaller enterprises will benefit too. For example, data stored in connected devices like the cloud could allow them access to technology they wouldn’t be able to have on their own.

Moving a few steps back from the point of manufacture, Industry 4.0 has the potential to impact on the entire design for manufacture process. As the Internet of Things (IoT) is realised, valuable data that can be shared on how products are used by the end users (the consumers) will influence how these products are designed and manufactured in the future. This data will be crucial for the early, embryonic stage of product design and New Product Development (NPD). It will be especially relevant to the development of adult toys and pleasure products where this data will be fully accessible through the Internet of Systems (IoS) including apps.

Industry 4.0 is still evolving. For the manufacturing industry the benefits of introducing smart machines into factories are clear. However, on a slightly less positive note, the presence of extensive data will add complexity to Intellectual Property and Design Rights. More concerningly the personal nature of the data recorded from the end users of adult pleasure products will need to be carefully managed to guard against potential data leaks. The laws of how this data will be stored and who it can be shared with will need to be carefully considered and agreed upon before Industry 4.0 becomes too firmly established in product design and manufacturing.

Paradoxically, the data potential of Industry 4.0, if made accessible, could be the catalyst to revolutionising how we operate and share best practices globally. Faced with all this new and informative data relating to performance and efficiency, wouldn’t it be great news for our planet if we were all able to learn from each other and tackle our climate change crisis collectively?

It goes without saying that sharing best practice and knowledge will help to increase efficiency of manufacturing on a global scale and as a result reduce the environmental, welfare and social impacts on our planet.

If you have a great idea for a new pleasure product and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality, get in touch today – we may just be able to help.

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In-house 3D Printing

Nowadays pretty much everyone has heard of 3D printing. As a primary tool for designers 3D printers can produce a real life object for handling and use. 3D printing has enabled us, here at Sated Design, to streamline our design methodology which vastly improves turnaround timings. Thanks to our in-house 3D printing capabilities we can usually build and handle physical parts that same day. This saves days over traditional modelmaking and subcontract bureau services and improves the quality of decisions made during the design process.

To the outside world, 3D printed parts are often a huge disappointment for many users. It should be borne in mind that the old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’ and ‘horses for courses’ are particularly true.

Users of 3D printing need the right know-how. Robust parts and high-quality parts can be made if the right materials and processing are used. We have taken 3D printing a step further and often use 3D printing to produce specially made tools and jigs to assist our design processes and also that of our clients. Examples of this are bespoke jigs and fixtures produced to precisely and accurately make modifications to parts or assemble. We have also specified 3D printed parts as a small batch manufacturing method for complex structural parts which would otherwise have required expensive mould tooling and involved considerable delays.

While 3D printing is now available to the mass market, it still takes a level of expertise to know how to process a part to be appropriate for printing. Key factors need to be understood in preparation for 3D printing such as print time, material volume, temperature control, orientation of the print and the nesting of items. It can be very tempting for inexperienced innovators to purchase their own printer in a bid to visualise their own products. This may at first seem to be the cheaper route for some, however, without the experience and the understanding of the amount of variables involved in producing a high quality 3D print, it is a much safer and cost effective option to leave this to the professionals. Our designers have the “know-how” to get the best from each print run and ensure each part is representative of the intended design.

If you need assistance with 3D modelling and printing, contact us today to discuss your requirements. As a full service agency, we can step in at any stage of your project to suit your needs.

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Consumers are calling for an Eco Friendly sex life

The causes of climate change are a consideration for New Product Design and Development in every industry. Seemingly one industry that needs to pay attention is the adult toy industry. The majority of adult toys are made with polymers and many use disposable batteries. Most importantly, consumers can’t (or don’t want to?) easily recycle an adult toy and so they sit in drawers for years before discretely going into landfill wrapped against inquisitive eyes. All of which contributes towards the 45 million metric tonnes of electronic waste the world produces every year.

In actual fact adult toys made from sustainable materials such as wood and glass have been in the marketplace for many years. It is fair to say that adult toys made of wood and stone predate history. If the climate goes the way many are predicting your next adult toy might just have to be carved out of a bit of wood as you sit in a cave! To avert that, an increasing number of consumers are making an effort to prevent more damage to our planet by demanding environmentally friendly products.

The adult toy industry has seen a huge growth in recent years as adult toys become more widely acknowledged as products contributing to health and well-being. In the press recently has come news that large retailers such as Sainsburys and Boots are now stocking a number of “top shelf” adult toys. At the same time, consumers are demanding ethically manufactured products. We at Sated Design therefore expect to see the adult toy market shift towards a more ethical manufacturing base and we predict new companies will come into the marketplace to exploit their know how in those areas and capitalise on the opportunity. Established manufacturers need to make sure they are not caught napping.

Consumers will demand provenance for claims made about any products that claim to be eco-friendly and ethically manufactured. Allied to this will be consumer expectation that products must still deliver the highest quality and performance. We think these will be challenging times especially when social media picks its heroes and its villains.

Do you have an idea for a new Sex Toy? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making your product a desirable reality? Get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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Are new regulations for designing a “safe”​ sex toy really necessary?

Having read an article in the July edition of EAN about the recent call for stricter regulations on adult pleasure products, I have been considering, are these regulations necessary or will they just muddy the water further when it comes to designing a “’safe” sex toy product?


The CE mark is a certification that indicates conformity with health, safety and environmental protection standards. It is also a mandatory requirement for any product manufactured within or designed to be sold in the European Union. Any sex toy product, in theory, will have to conform with the legal requirements of the CE in order to be marketed within the EU. As Product Designers we adhere to these when taking any new products through the stages from initial concept to manufacture. These “new” guidelines from SIS would just add another facet to this process, but as they have been described as “voluntary” they appear to me to be rather superfluous.

For me, there are two issues surrounding the perceived safety of sex toys.

1. Manufacturers outside of the UK that are not challenged to confirm with safety standards like the CE mark. By not doing so these manufacturers can easily under cut the pricing of quality products who are and selling non-rated products in the open market.

2. That it’s not so much the safety of sex toy products themselves but how they are being used by the consumer.

So how can these issues be addressed?

Well, firstly better policing of this is a must. The industry must police itself and report any non-conformists to trading standards or similar organisations. However, much needs to be done to ensure any legal challenges are efficiently supported by a trading standards organisation with enough resources to make these challenges effective.

With regards to the second issue, educating the end users of the products is the key to reducing the 40% of accidents reported in the article. This education is arguably the responsibility of the B2C retailers.

So, in summary, we need a better framework for making an example of those who are not trading fairly and ignoring general product safety measures and best practises already in place.

Do you have an idea for a new Sex Toy? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making your product a desirable reality? Get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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What happens to E-Waste?

Electronic products are all around us today. In fact if you’re reading this article then you’re looking at one right now. But what happens when these products reach the end of their life, or are made obsolete by newer tech? This is a question with two outcomes, good news and bad news. We would all agree that we absolutely must do something to deal with E-Waste. The bad news is that the results of that process often cause damage we do not see or choose to ignore. The way we deal with our E-Waste must be something we are all made aware of so we really understand the true cost of that new smart phone or TV.

Products like smart phones, IT equipment and home appliances are advancing so rapidly in their capabilities that they become redundant within months of their launch. Many homes and businesses are disposing of old tech products and the question is what can be done with these container loads of E-Waste?

E-Waste contains many valuable materials which can be recovered, such as gold, silver, copper, tin and palladium. The process for recycling electronic goods is similar to other more general recycling processes, following a path of collection, transportation, sorting and separation. Waste is collected and sent to a processing plant where items are manually sorted and disassembled, with parts like batteries removed and sent to specialist facilities.

Items that can’t be dismantled efficiently are shredded into smaller pieces and then spread out on conveyor belts using a shaking process. A high power magnet then sorts out the ferrous metals and further mechanical processes separate the metals from non-metals. A water separation process then divides the remaining plastic and glass materials.

Glass from cathode ray tubes (CRTs) commonly found in televisions and monitors contain more hazardous materials like lead, barium and phosphor. Processing these items is more complex, with extra washing and sorting steps to remove oxides and phosphors and to separate leaded and non-leaded glass.

Smelting is used to recover metals like gold, silver, tin and copper from PCBs and nickel, steel, cadmium and cobalt from batteries.

This is the good news part of the story because it results in a reasonable percentage of resources recovered. The bad news is that the predicted 50 million metric tons of E-Waste produced this year alone will create a big problem despite much of it being capable of being repaired or reused. The majority of it ends up in landfill or is incinerated, E-Waste is often legally and illegally exported to countries like China, India and Nigeria due to absence of more rigorous regulation. Once there, toxic materials like lead, arsenic and mercury leach into the water course, soil and air to become a huge long term problem in the environment affecting plants, animals and humans. The residents of Guiyu in China (an area known for recycling E-Waste) have the highest reported level of lead and dioxin found in people globally.

Out of sight and out of mind is not the way to deal with this problem. There is no easy answer but the majority of us are buyers of electronic products and we need to demand products that are easier to recycle and made with reclaimed material. Only then will product designers, not accountants get to set the design brief for how products should end their life.

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Adult toys using new materials

New materials for Adult Toys

We have seen all sorts of  new materials that are used with adult sex toys. Glass, wood and stone are some of the recent favourites but we never expected to see a faux wood effect. The jury is out on this one for us because we see innovation being more than a cosmetic wrapping.

Sex Toy Material Selection

It is always important to select the correct material for a product or certain parts of a product. Selecting materials to be used in sex toys are no exception. The material is key to creating the sex toy experience from glass toys that are smooth and rigid to silicone sex toys that are flexible and can be textured. Further developments in silicone materials feature the ability to conduct low levels of electricity which create a very unique experience. All materials used in sex toys need to be safe to use with the skin and at Sated Design our extensive knowledge and experience with material will ensure we can help you to create an innovative, exciting and safe product.

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