Should a product always be designed?

We receive all sorts of requests for assistance from potential clients looking to develop new products. The majority of these are clearly considered and well thought out, but just occasionally we get inappropriate ideas for new products and a handful that have been truly alarming and quite dangerous to contemplate!

At least we, as responsible product designers, can filter those out but our world is littered with examples of products that should never exist. Pointless products, unsafe products, irresponsible products and badly conceived products. The list is endless but at some point there was a designer and manufacturer who was part of the process. It’s tempting to think that those involved cannot have looked at anything other than the profit they would have made by bringing these to market.

We are all plagued by products becoming obsolete. Some of this is necessary but much of it is deliberately planned to force a new purchase. This inevitably results in huge amounts of resources going to waste and new resources being consumed to continue the merry go around.

How can it be fair on all of us and the planet to squander such valuable resources?

It seems to us that quite often a good idea is not always a good idea if it gets challenged using real world values.



World IP Day

Intellectual Property Protection (IPP) legally identifies the originator and owner of your idea and gives you exclusive rights to exploit it. In the simplest terms, if you are unable to legally protect your new product or choose not to protect it, then competitors could not be prevented from copying all your hard work!

The adult toy industry is notorious for unscrupulously copying great ideas. Both securing effective IPP and taking swift and aggressive action to stomp out copy cats are both crucial to maintaining your competitive edge.

Tuesday 26th April marks World IP Day so in celebration of this fact, we have compiled a list of our Top 5 Tips for protecting your New Product Development (NPD).

  1. Keep the secret
    It is important that the early stages of a project are kept as secret as possible, until you have suitable Intellectual Property (IP) measures in place. Releasing details of your idea into the public domain (which includes your friends) without protection may jeopardise the chances of your IPP applications being granted.
  2. Non-Disclosure
    If you need to discuss your idea with anyone, such as a supplier, use a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) document to ensure that all parties understand their obligations to keep the discussions secret.
  3. Research, Research, Research
    Research existing product and patents using internet search engines and patent databases. There are many free patent databases that you can use to carry out your own searching, but professional patent searches and patent attorneys who specialise in such services will almost certainly dig deeper and could find documents that are more relevant than those found by a novice searcher.
  4. Utilise the expertise of others
    A design consultancy team like Sated Design will help you explore the idea and identify where the novel elements of the design might be. The designers can help with providing descriptions of claims and supporting illustrations which will reduce your search and filing fees significantly.
  5. Get professional help
    When you are confident you have established what the main strengths of your idea are then you should investigate the best form of IPP. Attempting a DIY IPP is not the best approach and can do more harm than good. There are a number of ways to protect the intellectual property of your idea and we recommend that you speak with an IPP expert such as a Patent Attorney.

At Sated Design we have excellent links with trusted and experienced IP attorneys in several specialisms who can help you to gain the right protection. We have established clear working protocols that enable them to offer our clients favourable, fixed cost structures by keeping their involvement focused in key areas and at key stages in the NPD process. It has been our experience that even when allowing for the costs attributed to these services, our clients still save themselves time and money in the long run.

You can find out more in our company Information Pack. Contact us now to get your copy.



The ElectraStim project.

We were delighted to work once again with our client ElectraStim on a brand-new electro-stimulation device to celebrate their 20 years in the SexTech industry.

Our services can be easily tailored to suit the client and, in this instance we were commissioned to create an external case for the internal electronic components of the new product. ElectraStim had already produced their internal electronic components and had a well-defined specification for the size, shape, style and construction of the case that they wanted so we were able to take their specification and quickly interpret what was required. Read more in our portfolio.

The new KIX product looks great, and we wish ElectraStim every success with launching it into the marketplace.

If you’ve got an idea for a new adult toy product or need a bit of help with refreshing a current one, we can help you on your journey. We understand the drive you have to satisfy the desires of your customers and it’s our aim to satisfy your needs for quality, innovation and product design.
Contact us today.



Considering to new ‘right to repair’ law

Lat Thursday the UK’s ‘right to repair’ law came into force. Designed to tackle “built in obsolescence”, the new law is a supposed step change towards tackling our e-waste mountain, consumerism and ultimately climate change.

However does this new law actually go far enough? Or is it just another missed opportunity?

At present it appears the new legislation means manufacturers have to provide replacement parts but there is no cap on the costs of those replacement parts or indeed the call out charge for a trained engineer to come out and fit them, if required. Reading through the comments attached to a BBC article, there is a clear desire from consumers to ‘do their bit’ but this law is met with skepticism because fundamentally it still works out cheaper and more convenient to just go out and buy a new product.

Back in 2019 when Sated Design’s Director Chris attempted to repair his lawnmower, he was thwarted by a poor design and the inability to get hold of the replacement parts. This resulted in another product being thrown in to landfill unnecessarily.

If this ‘right to repair’ mindset has any chance of working out, it needs to be considered at the design stage of any product before being spread to manufacturers and to consumers.

Imagine if all designers had a mindset for designing not only for assembly, but also for disassembly. If they created products with repair in mind; considering the ease of disassembly, material separation for recycling and were intuitive to fix. As designers, we have a responsibility to be mindful of the end of use of the products we design.

Visualise having the ability to easily fix your expensive product yourself, perhaps you’ll even get enjoyment from it or learn something new.

So in conclusion, this new ‘right to repair’ law is addressing this problem to a small extent, but in reality it’s merely scratching the surface. The law needs to go further and be fundamental to every aspect of a product’s development in order for it to truly make a difference.

Here at Sated Design, we consider all these elements throughout the product development process. If you have an idea you want to develop, we can assist with the above issues and together we can create great products that literally do not cost the earth. Because after all, is it really right that so much is thrown away?



Are you aware of the UN38.8 Lithium battery certification?

We are all familiar with Lithium batteries and their increasingly popular application in electrical devices. For designers they are the go-to power supply and are used in their millions in a number of configurations. However, their use comes with a cautionary note, and this can be summarised in the old saying of “buyer beware”. These batteries have the potential to be a hazard. The battery must be safe and reliable for its intended use.

One of the questions you should ask of the vendor is, “does the battery meet the UN38.8 standard, set by the United Nations?”

Why is this question so important?

A UN38.8 certified lithium battery will have undergone a series of rigorous tests to show they withstand the physical and environmental hazards expected during intended use. It goes without saying that any product using a certified battery will not only be safer, but likely last longer too.

The responsibility to ensure that Lithium batteries meets standards falls upon the seller, but many buyers and sellers of electronic products across the globe are unaware that international regulatory bodies require this certification prior to shipping these goods. This opens up the possibility of uncertified batteries being offered for sale, usually at a bargain price.

There are 8 tests in the certification process, and each one must be passed in order to receive certification. This testing helps to provide an important safeguard for product developers, product sellers and lastly consumers. These tests are to ensure that a battery will not rupture, leak, disassemble or combust during transportation or during the products intended use.

The 8 tests are:

  1. Altitude simulation.
  2. Thermal testing.
  3. Vibration testing.
  4. Shock testing.
  5. External short circuit.
  6. Impact and crush.
  7. Overcharge.
  8. Forced discharge.

If a product is going to have a Lithium battery incorporated, then we would recommend only using batteries which have the appropriate UN38.8 certification. This will help to protect against using poor quality or faulty batteries which could ultimately provide customers with greater satisfaction and safety.



UKCA Marking – What you need to know

Britain’s exit from the European Union is affecting how people in the UK have to run their businesses. Some businesses have been greatly affected whilst others remain largely unchanged. Within the sphere of new product design there are some changes required, for now the new requirements are not far reaching and should be easy for most businesses to comply with. Part of these new requirements is UKCA marking.

The UKCA mark applies to most goods that previously required a CE mark. Currently technical requirements for the standards remain the same. For example, products are still subject to GPSR and, as before operate on the understanding that any product must be safe for intended use. If there is legislation specific to the type of product then this should take president. For example, both Toys and Electrical Equipment still have their own standard. These were previously referred to as “harmonised standards” from the EU but are now termed as “designated standards” and are published by the UK government.

UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021. However, to allow businesses time to adjust to the new requirements, businesses will still be able to use the CE marking until 1st January 2022 in most cases. At the start of 2022 the UKCA marking must be present at least as a label affixed to the product or an accompanying document. And then from 1st Jan 2023 UKCA marking must be permanently attached to the product.

This does not apply to existing stock, for example if your goods were fully manufactured, CE marked and ready to place on the market before 1 January 2021. In these cases, your goods can still be sold in Britain with a CE marking.

There are however some cases when businesses need to apply the new UKCA marking to goods being sold in Great Britain immediately from 1 January 2021. When asked for clarification on which goods have this requirement the government Goods Regulation Team advised the following:

“You will need to use the new UKCA marking immediately if all the following apply to your product:

• it is for the market in Great Britain
• it is covered by legislation which requires the UKCA marking
• it requires mandatory third-party conformity assessment
• if conformity assessment has been carried out by a UK conformity assessment body and you haven’t transferred your conformity assessment files from your UK body to an EU recognised body before 1 January 2021”

As well as the marking of products there are some changes to third party test house certification, record keeping and declarations of conformity.

Sated Design’s recommendation during this transition period is that it would be best to exercise an early awareness of CE and UKCA for your project. Consult a third-party test house who are established Notified Bodies in both the UK and EU, and who specialise in the particular area of standards, compliance and certification your project requires. This will help make sure the most efficient route to compliance is adhered to.



Sated marks one year since the first UK lockdown

Today the UK marks one year since the first coronavirus lockdown. Now is as good a time as any to ask ourselves to compare our lives 12 months ago to what they are now. What are we seeing? What positives can we take from this? How can we apply these to how we live and how we work going forward? Is there a better way?

We think it is important to talk about what Sated Design has 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, implement cost saving measures and a more beneficial way of working, we can encourage these businesses who wish to look at their own strategies for dealing with Covid19..

Here are some of the ways we have adapted to our ‘new normal’.

Providing for our staff

The biggest change for us has been the relocation of some of our staff as a result of social distancing measures. In the office we have made changes including staggered breaktimes, availability of PPE, a new layout for the office and become more aware of not gathering around the printers etc.
For those that now work from home there has been an improvement in the work/life balance and with the assistance of 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.

Everyone has adapted to this new way of working without any drama and much of what we have implemented will no doubt influence how we operate as a business going forward.

Supporting our clients

With regards to our product design service and a client list that extends across the UK and overseas, we were already adept at using remote conferencing and real time on-screen CAD viewing to discuss projects so there hasn’t been any notable difference.

A great many of our projects take months to work through because of development, tooling and testing so a large proportion of our work is focussed on supporting work in progress. Current projects have continued with very little interruption. New enquiries come in every week and we are heartened to see an increase in enquiries as business confidence increases and we near the end of the imposed lockdowns.

Director Chris Howsam says “Businesses should be thinking ahead and planning for what happens when the lockdown is lifted. We have supported our clients by maintaining a constant service over the last twelve months so as soon as this is over, they can be the first out of the blocks”.

He continues “Taking action now will make all 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 reality, take this opportunity and get in touch”.



Manufacturing Options

The pandemic has shined a bright light on our UK manufacturers and demonstrated not only their innovation and their resilience, but also the skills and ingenuity of the workforces to adapt and overcome. With so much uncertainty in the global economy, many businesses are understandably concerned about mitigating their risks. Those with existing offshore manufacturing and those looking for manufacturers are weighing up the pros and cons of where to manufacture.

It is true that low cost, high volume consumer products can be difficult to manufacture competitively in the UK and on this factor alone many would say it might appear not to be commercially viable for a business to reshore their product manufacturing or to manufacture in the UK. In our experience, so long as the comparisons are like for like and the full picture is considered, the answer is not as black and white as some would suggest.

Here are ten reasons why manufacturing in the UK can benefit a business and counterbalance a lift in the unit price.

1. No language barrier. This facilitates clearer negotiations and ensures words used are ‘interpreted’ correctly. It is quite normal for many offshore companies to employ translators who have no technical training. They are often unable to express the true meaning of emails and drawings to the shop floor. Notes on control drawings are a classic example of critical information which often gets ignored or miss interpreted.

2. Reduction in financial paperwork and no need for currency conversion. Many businesses are concerned about exchange rates and the redefining of what money constitutes. They ask if they should throw their weight behind bitcoins? The dollar? The Euro? Or sterling? Buying domestically largely solves this conundrum.

3. There is immense value in having a team come together around a table or a machine at a moment’s notice to solve problems. Sadly, it is unlikely that international travel will be as convenient as it used to be for a very long time. Getting to almost anywhere in the UK is comparably very easy and very quick. Once local travel restrictions are ended it will be easier and more cost effective to make UK site visits as and when they are needed.

4. International shipping costs are sky-rocketing and problems with landing and forwarding are causing many logistical nightmares.

5. Import and taxation are not easy and the landscape is changing as the UK adapts to post Brexit and other international trade deals.

6. Domestic manufacturing reduces the risks of variable delivery times and partial-shipping can often be resolved with less trauma when the supplier is ‘around the corner’.

7. The UK is arguably one of the most constant and stable nations on earth with a working infrastructure and tolerant population. Political wrangling, global disaster events, civil wars etc have shown how vulnerable many businesses could be to events out of their control.

8. Importantly, and something that is often missed – domestic manufacturing will provide a certain level of protection from intellectual property theft and give confidence in compliance with standards and regulations governing product performance and manufacture. Counterfeit materials, dodgy certification and inferior quality can ruin a business.

9. Can you be certain that the supplier is looking after your best interests? Inspections and sign offs are easier to arrange and verify when parties are local to each other.

10. Let’s not forget the golden rule – you usually get what you pay for.

There are strong arguments for domestic manufacturing and especially for reshoring but we must not forget that many businesses are very successful in manufacturing offshore. They achieve this by nurturing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with proven partners. They get the right balance between cost and volume and marry the right manufacturing partner to their needs.

Sated Design have extensive experience with manufacturing here in the UK and offshore and we think the best way to tackle this question is to approach it with an open mind and look at both options in depth, matching capabilities, understanding cost, weighing up the risks and benefits.

Need help taking your product idea to manufacture? Whatever the budget for tooling, required production quantities and preferred country of manufacture we will work very closely with our clients and manufacturing partners to determine the optimum manufacturing solution to meet the demands of the project. We can help to ensure suppliers meet the quality you expect, both in pre-production trials and once production has started.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements.



Positive News Please!

Currently you cannot escape the doom and gloom being depicted in our media; and yet in manufacturing we’re seeing a very different picture.

It is true that businesses have challenges but that is not new, business is a challenge all the time and there are always problems. Businesses are used to this and it stimulates their natural response to understand the challenge, innovate solutions and implement strategies that will move them not only past the problem but into success.

If there was ever a good news story, it would be the way our manufacturing industry is rising to the challenge of 2021. If there was ever a time when the nation needed a good new story full of hope for the future now would be the time.

So why doesn’t the news media refocus its attention and give some exposure to those businesses who are doing great things? Surely there is worth in articles featuring the ways in which businesses have managed (and continue to manage) through the pandemic. We feel this could provide not only some great stories but be a way of sharing ideas to support other businesses.

At Sated Design we feel we are a typical example of what’s happening in businesses across the UK. We are supporting those staff who can work from home, we are managing transport to and from home and providing a safe environment for those who remain in the office. We are still here for our clients and our suppliers who rely on us. It’s business as (the new) normal.

Sated’s Director Chris Howsam says “The New Year has brought us new enquiries from established clients and new prospects. It’s clear to us that there’s a desire for many to come out of covid-19 in the starting blocks and ready to go.”

He adds “it is time we celebrated some positive news and where better than a look at our manufacturing industry and the fantastic way they are rising to the challenge of 2021?”

So come on Journalists, Editors, TV Producers… can we see some reporting on the efforts being made by businesses, and in particular our manufacturing industry to secure our economy and make 2021 a better year than it is at the moment”.

If you are about to embark on a new pleasure product development and would like to know more about how we can help you on your journey, contact us today.



Season’s greetings from Sated Design

As we draw a close on the year 2020, we reflect on how tough it has been for everyone and we feel we need a rest and to recharge our batteries.

Despite our own challenges, as a business Sated Design has adapted to new ways of working and remained open for business – on hand to support our clients at every step. However, we know many others have not been so fortunate. This has been tough to see and we hope that the worst will soon be behind us all.

Director Chris Howsam says “the world seems to have been occupied with doom and gloom for a long time and it is easy to forget that tomorrow is a new day with new hope and new dreams. We have taken the approach that we can’t change the past, but we can hold our heads high, go forward and make the best of what we have”.

He continues, “we wish all of our clients and colleagues a safe and restful break over the holidays. Our seasonal message going into 2021 is this, ‘New Year + New Energy + New opportunities = New success’ and this is a sentiment we hope many will adopt as their own”.

Do you have an idea for a new adult pleasure product you wish to bring to market in 2021? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality?

Contact us to start your project.