From Concept to Pre-Production Prototype – The Hi Massager
by Dr.Steve McGough
If you have a project and you need help manufacturing, we can help. Send us an email.
Dr. Steve McGough came to us for help with his Hi Massager in 2015, after accidentally stumbling upon its miraculous benefits. What began as a tragic circumstance led to a breakthrough, when, following a c-section, Dr. McGough’s wife Wendy suffered from tissue adhesions that left her in a lot of pain.
Dr. McGough began looking for a way to alleviate the pain and eventually invented a device to stimulate the ligaments that supported the affected areas through vibration. What he found was that these vibrations would also affect the uterus, thereby triggering a mind-blowing orgasm – often in just a few minutes and through their clothing! After finding this, he spent a year looking into the science behind this discovery and once he was certain and confident about his prototype, he came to BSG for help with the manufacturing process.
The design mandate was set. The Hi massager was to be a therapeutic device, but also a device that could be used to stimulate orgasm for pleasure and to enhance intimacy. Orgasm has numerous well-established health benefits but is often regarded as a taboo subject that people don’t want to talk about. Steve and his company Human Innovations aimed to stay away from marketing the product as a ‘sex toy’, and instead target the everyday women and couples who could benefit from the device.
The goal was to design something that was optimal for wellness while still being very friendly and non-intimidating; something that women would be happy to potentially use everyday and not embarrassed to leave on their bedside table! Human Innovations quickly discovered that other manufacturers quoted prices near 7 figures for the development of the product and didn’t understand the real goal behind the product as a holistic wellness product, not just another sex toy. Berkeley Sourcing Group was able to offer Steve development at a fraction of the cost and began work immediately.
Challenges and Development
First, Steve needed to provide a little more detail on his original design. We worked closely with his team at Human Innovations to create a product that fit his vision, while also being safe and easy to use. We helped Steve to understand what information was important for the next steps (and what wasn’t!) and how to put that together to get the project off the ground including: the industrial and mechanical design drawings (3D files), Gerber files, BOM’s, and Product Requirement Document. This information is described in our ebook which you can download here. We then worked with vetted, trusted suppliers in our network, that had already signed our NNN agreement, to discuss the challenges, our work together and the scope of the project, from end-to-end, in order to provide Steve with a comprehensive quote.
Getting started, we had our work cut out for us. The prototype Steve provided to us, while functional, was affectionately referred to as “Frankenstein” for it’s size and noise. In this rare case, our team took over from the industrial design phase. Using Steve’s input that it should not be “sexy” but “attractive” so that it could fit into both the wellness and adult toy markets, we chose curves, colors, materials, and an overall aesthetic that was neutral, but had the subtle shape of the female body. The result was a curvy, elegant look with a much quieter motor and a size nearly 1/3rd of the original prototype.
Steve was impressed with the look and loved the size reduction, so it was quickly on to the next step. We re-engineered the internals components to choose the best available electrical components from China considering cost and lead times, built out all of the internal mechanical part files, applied a silicone overmold for an extra aesthetic and touch benefit, and applied thorough DFM so that we could test the actual manufacturing elements in the very first round of prototyping. A big advantage we have at BSG is that our prototyping process integrates design for manufacturing naturally as our engineers and the engineers of our factories have this ingrained knowledge in their repertoire (callout). By implementing this knowledge in the design phase we can often cut out one or two costly and time-consuming iterations in the prototyping phase.
A significant change we made was switching from an AC to DC motor. We had to add one adapter and redesign an additional component for the whole mechanic design. In the end we decide to go with the DC connection as it would be safer than the AC connection. Another key design element and change was that we felt that none of the screws should show as that would make the product feel more industrial. This added significant challenges in keeping up product durability and many details in fit and function that needed to be addressed, but we were able to help Steve achieve this goal, resulting in a much sleeker, cleaner looking product.
Once the first prototype was complete, we anxiously awaited feedback from testers. Overall, the response was very positive, particularly for those who had experienced the older prototype.
However, we found that the sliders that we had used for the interface with the idea of allowing the user to easily and quickly choose exactly their level of intensity became problematic as women got closer to orgasm and often accidentally changed the frequency, disrupting their experience. For the second prototype we changed to tactile buttons, updated the firmware to improve the available frequency range, and improved the design to hide the spring in the vibe guide more subtly.
Unfortunately, the second prototype tore at the vibration guide after extensive use. Prototyping processes are much different than manufacturing processes, so we still felt the design was sound, but before Steve needed to make the significant investment in hard tooling we wanted to give him the confidence that this design would work. Since the CNC version was too fragile, we created a soft tool for a minimal investment which mimics the results of the hard tooling in creating the compression molded piece. Currently, the prototype is working well, and helped in getting Steve into mainstream television with shows like, The Doctors.
Testing over time also led to the inclusion of an additional safety mechanism. There was some concern that the motor used might overheat and thus an NTC thermostat was added to monitor the motor’s temperature. Once the motor reaches an unacceptable temperature, it will cut out in order to protect both the user and the device itself. Ventilation holes were also included in the design, to help with internal cooling.
Overall, the final product involves a large number of different processes, including:
- Injection Molding
- Compression Molding
- Silicone Over-Molding
Each process contributes in some way to the final design, and (hopefully) results in an attractive and highly effective end product! Now that we have the design confirmed and it has been completed by our team whose core competency is manufacturing and manufacturing technology with many years of experience in each of these technologies, we are confident to move onto the next steps.
At this point in the project we waiting for final funding for the project to move forward with tooling and our first production run. By constantly communicating with the client, continuing a patient dialogue with the intended end-users, and understanding the close relationship between functional design and user-centric aesthetics, we have been able to develop a product that everyone is excited about.
“I can’t say enough good things about the entire team at Berkeley Sourcing Group. They’re simply amazing. I received 5 quotes from other groups and Berkeley Sourcing Group was the most cost effective and has delivered on everything they’ve promised – and then some.They created a fantastic industrial design, surprised me by being able to utilize components that were more durable and cost effective, and their compression molding is superior to anything I’ve seen. All for a lower cost. Plus the fact that they have a presence in China and own the factory – but are US based means you can call or skype and directly interact with them – in English. They’re effectively a one stop shop. This may not seem like a big deal but if you have ever work with a group that relies on outsourcing and layers of middle men between you and the factory – you’ll quickly learn just how wonderful it is to work directly.” Steve McGough – Founder/CEO
This is a typical example of the work flow we have with our clients (even if the product itself is rather atypical!). Communication is key, and even if the idea comes to us in a somewhat incomplete state, we’re able to help with sourcing, design and engineering to build something that meets the client’s expectations.
What Dr. McGough has developed in this case, is a piece of hardware that has the potential to change the way women relax, achieve orgasm, and improve their general well-being. It has huge potential therapeutic benefits and could even change the way we think about sex – for the better.
See A Hi-Massager in Action
If you’d like to learn more about the Hi Massager, then head over to www.womenandcouples.com. And if you have a product design of your own that you’d like to see realized, just get in touch and let us know what you’re thinking about!
For more inspiring stories and product spotlights, be sure to keep in tuned to BSG and subscribe to our mailing list.