Product of the People: How to Make a Design Concept into a Virtual Prototype Product of the People: How to Make a Design Concept into a Virtual Prototype
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Product of the People: How to Make a Design Concept into a Virtual Prototype

by Slava Menn

June 8, 2012

As engineers and product designers, there are a number of challenges and tradeoffs we are facing. Here's an inside look into our development process and the tough questions we're asking ourselves.

CHALLENGES 

180 Degree Illumination: We need to make the bike light out of aluminum because it's strong and lightweight. But we also need the light to shine both backwards and from the sides, so cars can see it from many angles. How do we make a plastic periphery window that allows for a wide angle of illumination without sacrificing strength?

Battery Replacement: Since the bike light locks onto your seatpost, how can we make it easy for the bike owner to replace the batteries without making it easy for a thief to steal the batteries?

Seatpost Attachment: Do we make the bike light as one piece and have the seatpost "skewer" through the bike light? Or do we make it two pieces that close around the bike light?

TRADEOFFS

Obstruction: A wide bike light attached to the seat post will hit the rider's legs. How do we stick with the Afterburner aesthetic without getting in the way?

Sizes: Seat posts vary from 22mm up to 35mm. We can try to make one size to fit all, but the attachment will not be as solid and tight if we use a tighter range (25-32mm). Or we can eliminate some sizes and have a tighter attachment mechanism. What's more important, versatility or tight design?

Illumination: What's more important, rear illumination or periphery illumination? How much light do we send backwards versus sideways?

Power: Brighter lights use more power and drain the batteries faster. Bigger batteries mean bulkier bike lights. Should we optimize for brightness or battery life?

Developing a product means understanding tradeoffs and making tough decisions about what's most important. Next week, we'll show you the 3D models. In the meantime, we'd love your input. How should we address these challenges? And how should we weigh these tradeoffs?

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Product of the People: How to Make a Design Concept into a Virtual Prototype