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Design 1st is located in Canada’s hi-tech capital and an hour’s flight from all major eastern U.S. cities.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Offer Manufacturing Help?

Our manufacturing setup experts will help you identify and secure trusted part suppliers and a contract manufacturer (CM) onshore or offshore as your project objectives require. We facilitate the process, helping coordinate the CM and parts supplier relationships, product batch builds, injection tooling approvals, quality plan, test verification, Bill of Materials management, and parts supply coordination.

How Long Will My Project Take?

Depending on your new product design’s complexity, it will take 2 to 12 months to complete the 4-stage development to the manufacturing process. Your design idea goes through concept exploration and engineering, 3D prototyping, user testing, and transfer to manufacturing.

Once the design is well documented, manufacturers can bid on it. Our creative team will find a solution that differentiates your product and delivers an ‘I love it’ user response aligned with a product cost that meets business needs, and the manufacturers want to produce.

Need help with your first pilot product build?  

We can navigate, negotiate, document, and fine-tune product quality during the initial production batch builds and on to continuous production. Our process ensures we bring value and transition out of the project as your operations team takes over production management. We can continue to facilitate production if your business objectives are to be a more virtual, low-overhead operation.

Why Should I Choose Design 1st?

We work with you to set all project requirements. This early planning strategy ensures a predictable development process while reducing costs.

Do I Need to Sign an NDA First?

NDA’s ensure confidentiality for both parties during conversations. We provide a mutual NDA where the terms apply to both parties. If your organization has an NDA that requires our signature, we handle this through email.

How Much Will My Project Cost?

Designing a new hardware product starts with a Concept Design (CD) stage. First, business, marketing, and design teams plan a potential product concept to deliver unique customer value.

An experienced development team can facilitate the requirements definition, oversee the creative design engineering process, provide manufacturing feasibility, and estimate the cost of product and development. A concept design exploration and product architecture definition for a new product idea takes 200 or more hours, depending on the knowledge of the user-buyer, the complexity of the design, the number of custom components, product safety requirements, and any formal documentation required.

Expert fully integrated product Design/Engineering teams in North America have rates from $100 to $ 400 per hour. After a phone discussion, we provide a Design budget based on your project’s specific needs. Call us for a chat.

Click here for more information on our development phases.

Head Office

1840 Woodward Dr.

Ottawa, Ontario

K2C 0P7


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What Clients Say About Working With Design 1st

George Tsintzouras

Director of Product, Christie Digital

Immediately understood what was needed

When we wanted to transition our older generation projector models to a more modern look and feel, Design 1st was a valuable asset. Given the depth of their design and engineering experience, Design 1st immediately understood what was needed. They worked with our internal engineering team through the process to provide us with compatible solutions to meet our needs.

Stephen Rayment

VP Engineering, Ericsson

Our trusted engineering partner for six years

Design 1st has been our trusted industrial design and mechanical engineering partner for over six years and they have proven themselves to be valuable, competent and committed to our success. They add value because they understand the tradeoffs between user value and cost, the need to balance both the business and product objectives, along with excellent knowledge of materials and manufacturing / tooling options.

Mike Tettenborn

VP Engineering, Caframo

Right balance of art and engineering

We selected Design 1st because their designers and engineers demonstrated the right creativity and technical understanding. With their CAD and modelling tools they were able to address the numerous design challenges encountered with this type of product. The end result was an easy-to-install, powerful marine hatch fan – unlike any on the market.

Kurt Francis

Co-Founder, CTO, Molecule

Deepest bench of technical talent

I did a lot of due diligence on product development companies and Design 1st had the deepest bench for technical capability. They worked on such a broad range of products with successful commercialization. Design 1st’s early efforts in prototype development helped us move from a powder substrate into a commercially product for testing.

John Lupton

Director of Engineering, GeoSight

Got up and running fast

The whole design was my idea and I had patents on them. The team’s main work was to solve the functionality issue of a piece of my design. On top of that, they helped identify one of our manufacturers.

Didi Horn


Exceeded Our Expectations

The Design 1st team exceeded our expectations and helped us deliver an exceptional product to the market. As a startup, we were working within a budget but expected the highest quality product. Design 1st identified the risks up front, had the vast network of partners to find the right components, and customized it to meet our unique needs.

Leverage Our Expertise

Our talented team of 30+ designers, engineers, and specialists are here to help your product idea into reality