Brash Product Development is a one-stop shop for startups bringing new products to market, primarily based in Ottawa and Chicago. The company distinguishes itself by providing a wide range of services in-house, including product design, mechanical engineering, industrial design, UI/UX, branding and marketing, among many others.
Every team behind a startup has different skills and strengths, but it's rare for one to have years of hands-on experience in every phase of the product development process—from napkin sketch to finished product.
That's where Brash comes in. Founded in 2018 by three product development experts, Brash is on a mission to help entrepreneurs get their products off the ground better and faster. They help companies with just a seed of an idea or an existing product that isn't performing as well as anticipated. The company's clients make diverse products across the medical, dental, and consumer categories.
Moving quickly, adapting easily
Brash strives to provide a smooth product development process, but that doesn't mean their own experience is without its unique challenges. "Often when we start working with a new client, they're looking for the first prototype within a matter of weeks, regardless of what the manufacturing lead time will be," says Tyler Berryman, Product Design Engineer for Brash. "Ultimately, it's our job to figure all of that out for them."
That means Brash must apply its ingenuity to the prototyping process. They often favor rapid 3D printing of an initial design idea to evaluate its appearance, functionality, and interactivity without waiting for tooling and machining. "Supply chain pressures mean we can't take too long to make these decisions," Berryman says. "We need to act fast and spot issues early in the process when it is not so expensive to fix mistakes."
Collaborating in the cloud
Virtually all of these decisions are made with the help of Autodesk Fusion 360, which Brash teams have used from day one to collaborate on product designs from multiple locations. "The collaborative nature of Fusion 360 aligns very well with our approach," Berrryman says. "We can all work on the same file as a distributed team with offices in Ottawa, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Chicago. Not everyone has access to the same computing power, so it's a massive advantage to do everything in the cloud."
Fusion 360 enables Brash to use one platform for simulation, CAD, and file preparation, rather than three separate tools. Its cloud delivery model also allows Berryman and others to work in CAD without a dedicated CAD machine. This means they can easily take a conventional laptop to a client site and retain access to the full range of Fusion 360 capabilities. "When I visit a client, I don't have to lug a huge, heavy, specialized computer along with me, but I can still make changes to the design on the fly," Berryman says.
Berryman also notes that Fusion 360 extensions allow his team to deploy additional Fusion 360 capabilities when needed in a very cost-effective way. "In some cases, we'll need to use certain extensions for a month at a time," he says. "Pay-as-you-go is very efficient. We've used the Product Design extension to test lattice behavior with a flexible resin. The Simulation extension has helped us test structural loads and ensure compliance. We're also looking at design for manufacturability for injection molded products."
Bringing innovations to life via rapid prototyping
Fusion 360 is the starting point for every product design Brash takes on. Typically, as soon as the designer crosses the threshold from sketches to a dimensional design, Fusion 360 takes over. "It's very easy to get an idea working," Berryman says. "We usually start with the initial concept and then create a few Fusion 360 files, each one taking that idea in a different direction. From there we get the files working in 3D space and then print it as soon as possible, even if it's not fully fleshed out."
Berryman notes that early iteration reduces the risk of spending a lot of time on a CAD design and only later realizing that the size of the product needs to change. "We print early on to see how close we are on size," he says. "Once that's established, we go back and refine the design and get the 2D drawings into manufacturing to get the parts made."
Effective interdisciplinary collaboration
Because of its collaborative nature, Fusion 360 helps the Brash team resolve potential conflicts between design teams with different mandates. Berryman's focus, for example, is mechanical engineering, which means his priorities are strength, functionality, and manufacturability. Industrial designers, meanwhile, are focused on aesthetics and consumer presentation.
"With Fusion 360, we can each work on our own priorities in the same design space," he says. "It helps us make the most of our time. We don't have to share files back and forth and make sure everything transferred correctly. We don't have to double check units of measurement. It makes everything easier and minimizes the risk of errors that could cause delay. It saves us a ton of time."
Brash teams also appreciate how well Fusion 360 works in contexts outside design and engineering. For example, it allows them to share designs with clients using an online link that automatically stays up to date. If CNC machining is required, the team can send a similar link to the CNC manufacturer, from which they can create the necessary toolpaths without having to recreate drawings or tolerances.
Bringing the Veba™ Baby Bottle Monitor to life
For the Brash team, the most rewarding part of a project is the moment it goes into mass production. One recent example is the Veba™ Baby Bottle Monitor, a device that helps increase the safety and convenience of feeding infants. It includes a device and a mobile app that work together to monitor the quality of milk or formula in a bottle and alert caregivers of unsafe conditions.
For this product, the Brash team used the Fusion 360 Product Design Extension to create a snap-on interface that installs the module on the bottle using a silicone band that adapts to multiple sizes. "We prototyped that by creating a quick mold in Fusion 360," Berryman says. "Then we overmolded it on a 3D-printed part to test the first iteration and make sure it behaved the way we expected, stretching for various bottle sizes. We tested the concept prior to any manufacturing work."
Preparing for growth
Brash's future remains bright as the company continues to push the boundaries of product development. "We are using generative design to explore ideas that are not intuitive to the human eye," he says. "We're using the tools in Fusion 360 for lattice structures and parts with non-homogeneous behaviors with respect to thermal or mechanical stress. These more organic shapes could be a big differentiator for Brash."