Product Development​

Product Development​


Designing products, including prototyping and test manufacture or making one-off products

Major variations

Designing and making one-off/custom products, versus developing a product that is to be made repeatedly. Consumer products versus industrial products such as designing a machine.

Potential impacts

  • Solving problems that need a bespoke solution
  • Designing products to be manufactured locally will have long term economic benefits
  • Promoting local culture and industry by making all kinds of one-off items like film sets, parade floats
  • Supporting local employment including skilled trades


  • This work is often well suited to those who enjoy makerspaces – it is creative, involves prototyping and technical problem solving


  • Demand can be unpredictable, making it difficult to build a sustainable business around it. 
  • May require a large range of skills & expertise (which is why it can usefully be combined with something like XXX, allowing you to draw on skills available in your community) 
  • Project management and business skills are needed to ensure products can be delivered on time, to budget, and with a profit being made.  

Complementary models


You may also be able to advise others on their product development processes


Giving others access to space and equipment to design and make their own things 


Enabling you to draw on a pool of skilled people for different jobs

Business model canvas

Key partners

  • Suppliers of materials & components
  • Open source hardware & software communities 
  • Local events, forums, and industry associations
  • Other organisations doing product development – you may join forces or sub-contract each other

Key activities

  • Product design
  • Prototyping
  • Design for manufacture
  • Advertising / Sales

Key resources

  • Creativity
  • Technical expertise
  • Machines & equipment for prototyping or manufacture

Value propositions

  • Creative or unique solutions
  • Convenience of being able to bring multiple skill sets together to create an output
  • Delivery speed may often be a concern
  • You may be able to develop expertise in a particular area e.g. in making a certain type of machinery

Customer relationships

  • Long term relationships which likely involve a degree of co-creation


  • Build relationships with those in the communities you are targeting 
  • Publicise examples and case studies of your previous work

Customer segments

  • People who want help to design a product for large scale production
  • Those who want one-off creations such as film sets, parade floats, or artworks
  • Organizations that have a particular problem that needs a bespoke solution

Cost structure

  • Time
  • Materials & components
  • Machine usage
  • Space where work is done

Revenue streams

  • Fixed fee for a project (or for the product you make)
  • Time & materials fees (charging for the time you spend and other costs incurred)
  • Revenue sharing agreements for products that are to be manufactured in bulk  
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