Titan Innovative Designs’ Bryce Borgel strikes a balance between design and function with his design firm.
With a diverse background in the oil & gas industry, structural steel and tool & die, Bryce Borgel opted to put his design and manufacturing skills to good use. In 2014, while working on his uncle’s seed farm, Borgel was struck with the idea to start his own design firm in the Edmonton, AB area.
What is your background and how did Titan Innovative Designs get started?
I initially began as a journeyman machinist in the oil and gas industry eventually moving to assembly tech in the tool making industry. I then became shop foreman, training workers and repairing oil field tools in Saudi Arabia. To finish my apprenticeship, I returned home and worked at a structural steel company.
Afterwards, I returned to NAIT in Edmonton for my mechanical engineering tech diploma, specializing in manufacturing. When I launched Titan Innovate Designs in 2014, I implemented a lot of what I learned from the oil fields, namely that I’ll take on any job, learn the best way to do it and properly execute the project. Right now, Titan is a team of four people. In addition to myself, we have two industrial designers and a mechanical engineer.
What’s the “sweet spot” for Titan Innovative Design?
I like to use the term “manufacturing boutique” when describing the company. Basically, we can do anything in-house. We can take the load off product design companies by managing their design and manufacturing so they can focus on sales and develop new ideas.
The majority of our work is in product design, but about 20 percent of our business is in the architectural industry, which makes us unique. However, our “sweet spot” is with more traditional manufacturing companies. We usually take on 5-10 projects at a time. For being a small company, we can actually be quite nimble bringing products to market.
Do you subscribe to any particular design philosophy?
I try to put more emphasis on function than style. At the end of the day, however, products still need to sell and stir up some emotion in the consumer.
To do any product design, an ideal Titan employee would have an industrial design background for artistic ability. I find that engineers, myself included, are often analytical – we think in straight lines – and that makes it hard for us to think outside the box. When we work with an industrial designer, we can really get into organic shapes and making things look good or pleasing to the eye.
What is your firm’s design process?
Usually clients come to us with an idea. We sit down with them and explore the scope of the project. Our industrial designers will freehand draw concept and custom rendering sketches for clients to get a feel for the design.
We will then take all of the ideas, put them into a formalized sketch and work through project logistics to determine feasibility. We then move to the engineering and 3D modelling, source materials and parts and do a full 3D representation.
After that, we prototype, test and make the changes required to best develop the product. We try to do three rounds of changes. Through all this, we determine the ideal process for manufacturing because that really dictates the design process.
Small batch prototyping is the next phase. I work with local suppliers and companies in Canada, establishing a network where we can do concepts and designs, engineering, prototyping, small batch manufacturing, manufacturing, packaging and marketing and full patent, all within the Edmonton area.
What are some recent notable projects?
I started off wanting to do a lot of 3D printing and design. It has evolved from 3D printing to design to product development. We have now brought one product to market, the Beadscope 360, a caulking gun nozzle accessory.
Titan was involved from concept to distribution of the Beadscope 360. The client was looking for a design where the nozzle could rotate a complete 360 degrees around the gun and still apply parallel to the gun. The nozzle had to be big enough to move enough material (silicon) to make it appealing to contractors.
We designed the tool to fit injection molding and used Solidworks to do some test samples to figure out and study the mechanics of the tool with rough aesthetics.
Which projects are you particularly proud of?
I’m really proud of all of them. But if I had to pick one, it’s Tezyzy, a construction tool. With these next-gen tools, consumers will be able to do steel stud framing with any gauge thickness and still be on center at 16 inches or 24 inches with our extension.
The client wanted a premium, high-quality construction tool. Sheet metal fabrication was the best option. The tool was designed with a high visibility color, weight and feel from an aluminum frame and placement of the magnets that makes it unique and ideal for construction framing projects. We unveiled the next-gen tool line at the INTEX EXPO in Florida at the end of March.
We believe in strong partnerships when designing and bringing products to market and I would like to acknowledge Murray Chase and his company for his help with Tezyzy.
What is one of the challenges in working in Edmonton?
In Edmonton, one of the big challenges is with the product verticals. Right now, oil and gas is so chaotic, there have been a lot of companies that have had to close. Everyone is trying to find a new vertical or new product to diversify outside of oil and gas.
Seeing this has allowed us to be more diversified. The biggest thing for us is just not following oil and gas but being open to trends in other industries like manufacturing and construction.
What’s next for Titan Innovative Designs?
At Titan, we are always trying to stay on the forefront of technology and 3D design development. We are always learning new design techniques and ways to integrate additive manufacturing, VR and AR into design and development.
Currently, we work with clients in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and the U.S., but I hope to expand across the country. The skills we have at Titan are invaluable to other companies, so developing partnerships is essential for us.