Many dream of taking an initial concept of a product and turning it into a reality. It may be anything from an organic hair care product, deep shine car wax, or a paint product that dries with a pleasant odor. The problem for many is not having the knowledge, time, or resources to turn their entrepreneurial idea into an on the shelf product.
Before starting development on a new product one should research similar products and determine the strengths and weaknesses of them as well as what alterations or tweaks they would make to the competing products. Also it is important to research patents that may exist on similar products to ensure that they are not violating any legal restrictions if the product is too similar to an existing one on the market.
Depending on the time and resources available on hand a new products formulation is typically designed in either an internal laboratory typically through a companies R&D division or through the use of an independent contract laboratory. Unless the new product is within the regular scope of a companies new product development team is often outsourced as a way to save valuable time and money.
While it will vary by which commercial or industrial product is being developed, there are several main places to look for research and some ingredients that are common among multiple types of formulations including:
Manufactures/Distributors: These can be a good resource as some are willing to preform testing at a discounted rate and will share parts of their formulations. The downside is that typically they also own all rights to the final product created and will lock you into a contract taking a large portion of profits made by charging you higher production costs. Another downside is that if they ever go out of business or find someone willing to pay more for the formula you may the lose your source for your product and since most the time the products formulation is not shared you will be unable to transfer production to another manufacture.
Internet: While generally free and containing an abundance of information, resources found on the internet are generally of lower quality. Since anyone with or without formulation experience can post their information and the general lack of any peer reviews information found online can provide good background information but typically is ultimately not of high enough quality to rely upon.
Basics Of Common Chemicals In Some Formulations
In modern home, health, and cosmetic products there are several main types of ingredient classes.
Surfactant: Also known as a surface active agent this term is used for chemicals that reduce the surface tension between water and oil based ingredients. Since many ingredients are water based this allows it to have a large scope of applications in a range of products. Depending on the type used these typically make products more or less gentle to interact with.
Common Uses for Surfactants Include:
What Are Common Surfactants Used In Products:
Humectants: This term is used to describe additives that help absorb and retain moisture in a formulation. Almost like a sponge they soak up water and moisture from the environment around it and trap it into the product. Without humectants the product may cause a drying reaction in cosmetics or allow food products to dry faster than intended.
Common Uses for Humectants Include:
What Are Common Humectants Used In Products?
Emollients: Like humectants these are also used to maintain moisture in commercial products. But in addition they also help to give cosmetics the unique texture or feel that is desired. They can also be used to create a protective barrier within the surface of cosmetic products. Their primary use is for beauty products.
What are Common Emollients Used In Products?
Thickeners: These often are used to amplify the way a product feels and give it a base structure as well as its shape. Without the use of thickeners a product may be too thin and runny, resulting in a product that is hard to store and use. When formulators talk about how a product feels when applied and how it is transferred it is often the result of the thickening agents that they are talking about.
Common Uses for Thickeners Include:
What are Common Thickeners Used In Products?
Neutralizers: Often times a product ends up with a unwanted Ph Level before the product it finalized. Unless this is countered this can have damaging effects if applied to the skin or other surfaces. Neutralizers help to balance a product and add a buffering zone increasing the safety of a product. Often time’s neutralizers are also often able to make a product more stable which increases its shelf life. The term neutralizer is also used in cosmetics as a color, odor, or other performance eliminating effect.
Common Uses for Neutralizers Include:
What are Common Neutralizers Used In Products?
Preservatives: As the name suggests these help to increase the shelf life of a product. This step can often be forgotten by those without enough experience in the field and often times when a great product is made without these it will most likely suffer from a short longevity and will not last long on the shelf.
Common Uses for Preservatives Include:
What are Common Preservatives Used In Products?
Processing Aids: Not all of the ingredients discussed above will always react properly when mixed together. Using processing aids can help to prevent additives mixed together from reacting with each other.
Common Uses for Processing Aids Include:
What are Common Processing Aids Used In Products?
Additives: These usually give a product it’s special smell, color, appearance, or performance boost. These can add effects such as anti-foaming, anti-microbial, deep or light colors, flowery smell, etc. These can even be vitamins or minerals added as a health benefit to a food product or as an orange scent that is added to a cleaning companies product line. Additives are used in a majority of commercial products and can vary significantly in type.
What are Common Additives Used In Products?
Active Ingredients: While products contain a range of ingredients from those that control their thickness and feel to the color and odor, the active ingredients are the performance ingredients commonly used in cleaning, cosmetics, and a range of other products that get the job done. In a cleaning product it would be the ingredient that removes the stuck on stain or in a coating primer the ingredients that covers up old markings and keeps them hidden. They are typically considered the most important part of a product because even if a product is all natural, looks great, and seems perfect, if it does not preform as intended then it will not likely be a very successful product.
Common Uses for Actives Ingredients Include:
What are Common Active Ingredients Used In Products?
Often times when formulating a new product several small batches are produced in order to compare different their appearance and performance and determine which version of the formulation is best, typically these batch sizes are just a couple grams in size. Once the best version is selected a larger batches is created for additional testing and troubleshooting steps before finalizing and entering production. Often times when making an formulation in larger batches it tends to have minor differences due to changes in its manufacturing processes and the formulation may need to be modified slightly to produce on a larger scale. Once these modifications are finalized it will be ready to produce in-house or send to a manufacture for production.
Often times products also need to be also tested once completed for their longevity or shelf life. This helps to develop expiration dates and insures that the product stays both safe and effective long enough for customers to purchase and use. This will also show how different temperature and humidity conditions will affect the stability of your product. This can be done in a variety of ways including real time stability testing and accelerated shelf life testing. Depending on the regulations imposed on your product an accelerated stability program may not be recommended.
One way to save time and money in the formulation process is to first use deformulation services (product reverse engineering) on similar products that you like. A professional deformulation analysis on competing products can identify the major, minor, and active ingredients inside of a competitors formulation. Using this information and reformulation services a skilled product re-engineering chemist can make a product similar to the competitors product. Since the competitor will have already worked out the potential problems in formulating the product this allows for a great base to work off of and through modifying it towards your particular needs it will leave you with a high preforming and unique product.
Depending on the type of commercial or industrial product formulation, deformulation, and reformulation services can be a complex processes that requires specialized skills and instrumentation.
Free Consultation with a Ph.D. Chemist that can give you more information call (800) 930-5450.