The 8-Bit Lit Lamp Project (Part 2)

In this post I’ll continue where I left off in the last post and tell you more about our experience concerning the 8-Bit Lit Lamp project.

Sourcing Materials

8 Bitlit Small business LampBy the end of the last post, we had hit a roadblock.  The material we found that was ideal for the project was very expensive and couldn’t meet the price point. Therefore, we started to hunt for other alternative materials.

We racked our brains, found and tried every material we could think of such as ABS, PP, PVC, PC, PE, PS and so on. We even went out to an IKEA furniture retail store to investigate what material was currently used on the market. We found that the material for lampshades tends to be PP because PP is soft and is easily bent into any shape. Although we saw many chic lamps that day, the search in the IKEA store bore no fruit because we could not use such soft material for a hard and sealed cube. In the end we chose PVC for its flatness, transparency, stamping ability, color, durability, and price point.

Sourcing Factories

The lamp consists of two kinds of parts:

  • Electrical parts, such as a 12ft-long wire, an adapter, LED’s and a PCB.
  • Mechanical parts, such as panels and buckles which are for fixation.

The biggest obstacle was to find a factory with UL certification, especially for the electrical parts. There was a binary path before us: either to find factories with UL certification which are scarce in China or to find factories with no UL certification which are abundant in China, then UL certify the electrical parts.  I found out that the UL certification process is very troublesome, however.  Finally we found a factory with UL certification, but the price was quite high.  The client has not decided which path to take yet, but it seems that using materials that are already UL listed will be the best way to go.

Things I Learned

  1. Because our products are shipped to the US, we need to consider the certification of our products. The most common standards for electronics  are CE (in Europe) and UL (in the US). Both getting products certified and getting certified products can be expensive, which can drive up the cost of products significantly.
  2. Product design is not a one-way street.  It requires extensive cooperation between the manufacturing team and the marketing team.  There is no doubt that hurdles will arise during the design process so it is important to be patient, persistent, and creative with solutions.
  3. Being open-minded is very important. Don’t be afraid to use the “shotgun approach”. We did not know what material could replace acrylic. Therefore, we found and examined every possible material and feel confident that we found the best material in the end given the product requirements.
  4. Communication between us and the clients played a significant role. We struggled over the design of DC jack barrel and exchanged quite a few of emails with clients to explain it. It is important to explicitly think about the processes (each of the manufacturing steps, packaging, and assembly) and then communicate clearly what the hurdles to each process and material might be. Both sides should be very clear about the complete process and questions in order to move forward quickly and effectively.

Product design is not a one-way street tweet this

To sign up to be one of the first to get an 8-Bit Lit lamp, check them out here

 

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