I felt like I was on Mars: Reflections from New Product Development Course

I recently completed the silver jubilee of my life. There are many experiences, in these 25 years of journey, that could perhaps be defined as life-changing ones. Among them, some of the few experiences were, at one time or another, my first experiences. One of such first experiences was taking the New Product Development Course.

The New Product Development course started at around the first week of March 2022. It was more of a practical course, which focused on developing and building the creativity of the students using the concepts of product design and prototyping. For the final group project work, we were assigned to develop a product with attractive packaging as well as an advert for our product.

As it was a group project, I started reaching out to a few of my class-mates. In no time, I got my dream team with Grishma, Santosh, Saghan, and Sajiya. We immediately started to brainstorm ideas when Grishma suggested making a butter slicing machine as she feels that the butter slicing process is quite inconvenient and makes hands and knives greasy. Initially, I, and perhaps the other team members, did not give the idea much consideration as we did not find the problem to be real. However, after deliberations, we decided to develop a butter slicing machine for our final project. 

We pitched our problem statement to our lecturer, Dr. Prina Bajracharya. Then, I started to brainstorm about the ways in which we could think of the solution to address the butter slicing issue. From a range of product ideas discussed, we selected to make a butter mill which is based on the workings of a piston mechanism, to solve the problem. With limited high school exposure to natural science, we, as a team, were not versed in the mechanism involved in the butter mill. 

We then learned about an organization called FabLab, a digital fabrication laboratory based in Nepal. Prina helped us set up a meeting with the FabLab team. We presented our problem statement and the product idea. The FabLab team agreed to proceed with the idea of a butter mill. We first started to research the mechanism and dimension of the butter mill. In this process, we had to be mindful of the different variety of butters available in the market as there was no consistency in the shape and size of the butter.

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We made a paper design of the butter mill with the dimensions of each component as we had it into five components. As we did not have expertise in using 3D modeling software, we sought support from the FabLab team to turn our paper design into a 3D design, which helped us visualize the product. After the 3D design was ready, we had to print the design from a 3D printer. I was super excited as I had never seen a 3D printer except for in the movies and advertisements. My team-mates shared similar experiences and feelings.  

I felt like I was on Mars, as I saw how a design, simple by professional standards, was being printed into a tangible object. The 3D printer prints objects layer by layer as each object consists of numerous layers. No wonder, the process takes a lot of time. It took more than fifteen hours to print the butter mill product.

Although we had a workable prototype ready, we were yet to make a packaging for the butter mill as well as an advert. For packaging, we decided to make a box from cardboard and styrofoam. We used a laser cutter for cutouts in the cardboard and self-adhesive tape to stick the ends. We also had named our product, ‘Easy butter’ with a tagline ‘No लटर पटर, Easy Butter’ (No Litter, Easy Butter) as our product focused on making the butter slicing process grease free. We also made an advert, where Santosh and Grishma played leading roles. Thank you guys for the awesome job- you might get hired for a promo! Picture 6 300x225

On our final demo day, we were very excited to share our product in front of the classmates, friends, and professors as we had invested significant time and effort in making the butter mill. Everyone appreciated our team effort with an applause, which gave a sense of immense satisfaction and pride.

Picture 1 225x300I am extremely proud of myself and my team for being able to pull this off despite having no clue, exhaustion, “I can’t do it” feeling, anger, and irritation- along the way. We pushed ourselves from our comfort zone, which was not easy to say the least, to make a product that could actually solve a real problem. Thank you to our wonderful lecturer Prina for her constant motivation and support: we would not have accomplished this if you were not there to motivate and support us. Thank you to King’s College for helping collaborate with FabLab. 

I, now, really feel I can design a butter mill for Mars! (haha)


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