Nahaufnahme Maschine

From the idea to the series product

New series of topics

How does the development process of a new product work from the initial idea to series production?

From the first drawing, through various prototypes and test series to the finished article, we highlight the individual stages of product development at VWH in a special article.

Look forward to a look behind the scenes at your global player from the Westerwald.

The idea

Something is missing?! - The idea 

Cycling to work combines three positive things: less commuter traffic, less exhaust fumes and fitter employees.  

This is probably one of the reasons why more and more companies are offering their employees a company bike - including VWH.  

Our employee Andreas was one of the first to discover the company's service bike leasing program. Since he already has to master some Westerwald heights on his morning commute from Frickhofen, just under 10 km away, his choice fell on a sporty mountain bike.  

Since Andreas is an early riser, he really enjoys cycling into the sunrise in the morning. More and more frequently, however, he registers angry honking motorists who shoot past a little too close to him and his bike for his taste. After a thorough analysis of the vehicle, he realizes that something is missing!  

Since mountain bikers are usually more likely to be on the road in rough terrain than in rush-hour traffic, many manufacturers do without components such as lighting that complies with the German Road Traffic Act (StVO). However, since the Westerwald topography turns many a commute into a mountain stage, mountain bikes should also have appropriate safety devices.  

We at VWH have therefore developed a solution: The universal lamp holder can be attached to absolutely any bicycle saddle and allows the attachment of a mandatory red rear light.

The first drawing

Turning the idea into reality: A first drawing is created  

"We are the land of tinkerers and thinkers." 

Our employee Andreas must have remembered this sentence from Armin Laschet when he approached our development department with his idea for a universal lamp holder. Together we tinkered and thought.  

Every new idea at VWH starts with a blank sheet of paper. As once with Leonardo da Vinci, a drawing emerges from a tangle of lines with a little patience, giving the flash of inspiration its first delicate shape.  

This conceptual primordial soup of the later product is primarily about putting a functional design on paper, which then has to prove itself in a later stage of the development process in terms of its feel, functional scope and other criteria.  

To finally make the drawing usable for the mechanical manufacturing process of a first prototype, a digital CAD model is created from it. This model then serves as a design template for the 3D printer or other machining production machines.

The first prototype

The first prototype  

Andreas is excited to see how the 3D printer turns his idea for a universal lamp holder into reality, layer by layer. It's not as fast as the replicators from the Star Trek universe, but for small products with complex geometries, 3D printing is a fast, cost-effective and practical form of production.  

Mechanical manufacturing is rarely used for prototypes anymore, but it produces more stable models due to the use of high-quality thermoplastics. However, production is naturally more time-consuming and cost-intensive, and commercially available CNC machines have difficulty with complex geometries.  

The whole thing is therefore ultimately a question of the stage of development and the intended use: For simple design or ergonomic models, the quick plastic version from the printer is usually sufficient. When it comes to pre-series maturity, the models should already be of somewhat better quality and durability in order to be able to make reliable statements about certain specifications and product properties after test use.

The injection molding pattern

Injection molded prototype through rapid tooling  

Not all prototypes are the same: In order to obtain a nearly perfect product at the end of the development process, our universal lamp holder goes through various test stages. For these test stages, different prototype samples are made for specific "test tasks".  

After our first sample from the 3D printer has convinced Andreas in terms of design and ergonomics, the next test stages focus on the actual functionality of the item. For this purpose, we are resorting to injection-molded versions of the universal mount due to its durability and comparability with the later end product. Injection molds made of aluminum allow prototypes to be produced quickly and cost-effectively.  

Rapid tooling can be used to produce small batches that can be used to simulate numerous application scenarios under practical conditions. For example, tests are carried out to determine whether the bracket can be attached to all saddles without any problems and whether a rear light can be fastened securely. Stability during riding is also an important aspect - especially in the challenging terrain of the Westerwald.

Follow us on Komoot

Ready for series production

Ready for series production: the birth of a new product  

Even on a supposedly simple item like a lamp holder, there is still a surprising amount of tinkering that can be done. During the test phase, every single characteristic of the product can and must be scrutinized in order to finally arrive at a result that is ready for series production. 

Specifically, we tweaked the material thickness, ergonomic shape, recesses, drill holes and even the choice of material for our universal lamp holder. 

After countless optimizations, Andreas and the development team at VWH are finally nearing the conclusion of a long process. It took several months and numerous series of tests until the universal lamp holder combines all the features that our employee expects from the device for a safe commute.  

For series production of the article, it is therefore now possible to manufacture a final injection mold from steel that can withstand several thousand injection cycles without any loss of quality. If this mold also withstands critical testing (measurement of the injected products), the goal of a product ready for series production has finally been achieved.