How To: Get started with Industrial Design with Tim Hayes

How To: Get started with Industrial Design with Tim Hayes

In our second installment of our “How To…” series, we’ve tapped Edison Nation member Tim Hayes to share his expertise and experiences in industrial design.

sketching

Q: Let’s start off simply…what is industrial design?

Industrial design is a process of design that is applied to products in order for them to be manufactured through techniques of mass production.

The role of an industrial designer is to create and execute design solutions for problems regarding form, function, usability, ergonomics, marketing, brand development, sustainability and sales.

sketchingformsto 3dmodel

Q: How did you get started in product/industrial design?

I went to the Cleveland Institute of Art and graduated in the 5 year BFA program in 2007. Once I heard about what industrial design was in high school, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I have since worked for some of the top design firms, lawn care corporations and toy companies in the area, developing their internal products. I have been an entrepreneur since I was a child, wanting to learn as much as I could in the design and manufacturing world. My goal since high school was to start my own design firm to offer services that many firms don’t offer.

Cardboard Helicopter Product Design

Cardboard Helicopter Product Design

Q: As an inventor yourself, do you find that going beyond just explaining a concept impacts commercialization? How?

The further along you are in the product development process, the better chance you have at getting a licensing deal.

We have worked with inventors, helping them get their idea onto paper in an exciting way using refined sketches and 3D renderings. This is called a sales sheet or sell sheet. An idea isn’t anything to a company. It needs to look real, be straightforward and resemble something that could be produced and be profitable. We offer services that take an idea into a 2D sketch, and then refine them into 3D renderings or animations which communicate the idea as a “virtual prototype” instead of a physical prototype. This allows inventors to shop their idea to potential companies.

Chalktopus Sell Sheet Example

Chalktopus Sell Sheet Example

Q: Your company, Cardboard Helicopter Product Design, takes concepts and brings them to life by researching, brainstorming, ideating, designing and developing products. If an inventor wanted to hire your firm as a design company, what are the steps to get started?

We always start by having both parties sign a mutual NDA which protects the idea and the inventor. We are not in the business of taking ideas. We want to examine ways to rapidly design and develop the concept with the inventor’s best interest in mind. We always like to say “Your success is our success”. We discuss the idea with the inventor and determine what the best strategy is. Many inventors don’t know that there are multiple avenues to explore, and we figure out if the inventor is ultimately trying to license the product, or actually manufacture and commercialize the product themselves. 

Q: What tools would an inventor starting out need to create preliminary designs?

Paper, pens, pencils, markers. Rough prototypes can be easily mocked up out of paper, foam core, plastic, anything!

Basic 3D programs for beginners can be acquired and learned in an easier way more now than ever. The inventor can complete part of the process and hire a design firm to further develop the item in a more refined way, or they can find an industrial designer to help them along with the process. I have seen and had a lot of success using crude functional prototypes, no patents, a great conceptual rendering and a sell sheet, rather than full development, patenting, tooling and prototyping without knowing if there is any interest in the idea yet.

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 Q: What is your most memorable project and why?

We recently developed a baby product for a start-up from the ground up, which was very fun and exciting. I’ve especially been interested in the baby product industry because I just had my first child 4 months ago, and I am constantly seeing improvements that could be made from a design standpoint in that market. Furthermore, it’s very enjoyable to design products that help babies and their parents tackle some of the challenges of daily life with babies in tow!

CH baby collage

Q: Anything else we should know about you?

I am a MMA fighter. I have been fighting, MMA cagefighting, Muay Thai kickboxing, and boxing, for years.

Hayes MMA


We sincerely thank Tim for giving us insight into the industrial design world! To learn more about Tim, check out his InvENtor Spotlight. If you’re interested in working with Tim for your next project, check out his company, Cardboard Helicopter Product Design! You can also learn more from Tim on the Edison Nation Forums!

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