Technology Readiness Levels: A Better Product Development Framework? –

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Technology Readiness Levels: A Better Product Development Framework?

Does the TechnologyReadiness Levels framework (TRL) developed by NASA make sense for your product development state of affairs?

Let’s compare it to other development frameworks, including medical devices together with consumer electronics, to run into how the TRLs are related together with helpful equally milestones to focus on during the development procedure.

What are the TRLs?

The engineering readiness levels framework was developed by NASA in the 70s because developing a new infinite vehicle arrangement required an enormousamount of piece of work together with a rattling structured approach to prototyping in addition to validations. Although widely used inwards the infinite exploration manufacture to the signal where it is included inwards ISO 16290:2013 Space systems — Definition of the Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) and their criteria of assessment, it tin be used inward most industries together with we have got establish it to live most widely adopted by our European clients.

Primarilyan R&D tool, the TRL is a production development framework divide into nine distinct levels that helps deal the research & evolution choices a society needs to make. After you have defined what you desire to make inward a concept program, the TRL framework tin be implemented. It starts off at degree 1 if the technology is at an early on stage together with nonetheless quite immature, and ends alongside mature engineering where R&D is all but consummate together with the production pattern is fully validated at degree ix.(However, it does NOT mean it is fix for mass production, as we will discuss).

According to NASA, the TRLs can be broken downwards into five categories:

  • Basic research inward new technologies together with concepts.
  • Focused engineering development addressing specific technologies for 1 or more potential identified applications.
  • Technology evolution as well as demonstration for each specific application before thefirst of full organisation deployment.
  • System evolution (through foremost unit of measurement fabrication).
  • System ‘launch’ and operations.

To give y’all an thought of how the dissimilar technology readiness levels jibe together, permit’s facial expression at NASA’s own graphic:

NASATechnology Readiness Level meter


Interestingly, the TRL can live described every bit ‘technology milestones,’ then y’all tin empathize why it is used as a framework to make do the product development process (reliability testing lone tin live really complex, for instance, so solidprojection direction is a truly of import field of study for manufacturers who’re developing and manufacturing a novel product).

How to exercise engineering readiness levels when developing your full general consumer production?

Based on NASA’s master framework, a more full general-purpose TRL framework we use at Sofeast includes the half dozen phases as well as incorporates the TRLs:

  1. Specification
  2. Feasibility study
  3. Prototyping
  4. Tooling (as well as other procedure validation piece of work)
  5. Pre-production grooming
  6. Mass production

NASA’s framework doesn’t really consider the finally 2 phases equally they create units that tend to be mitt-made in tiny quantities, so transferring to manufacturing together with bulk production were not such an number for them every bit they are for today’s manufacturers ofproducts made in thousands (or the millions), hence we include these sections.

I verbalise yous through the framework inward this video:

You can come across the framework we utilisation atSofeast below (the Sofeast phase names column) and how it corresponds alongside NASA’s Technology Readiness Levels:

technology readiness levels template example

Let’s become through each phase too how the TRLs relate to them:


This is where you define what yous look from the production. Translate the users’ needs and the regulatory in addition to other requirements into a series of specifications, equally detailed every bit possible. Performing market place research here to make up one’s mind user needs too demands is truly of import.

Feasibility study

This includes TR1 (Basic principles observed too reported) as well as TR2(Technology concept together with/or application formulated). This is where yous set about to identify the sources of the highest technical hazard and confirm feasibility too effectiveness through proof-of-concept prototype(s). Some companies won’t demand to do this as well as can skip directly to the next phase, starting amongst TR3.


In the product evolution stage, a lot of piece of work gets done. We create increasingly amend prototypes; find weaknesses, program ahead, construct, together with iterate them.
(Note: merely 1 paradigm may be sufficient to acquire to TR 8.)
There is also marketing/pre-sale work, inward parallel.

Start amongst a proof of concept focusing on the few critical functions in addition to seeing if it can live made to work. In TR3 as well as four we validate some of the components. Test in addition to validate that the product works inward a replicated typical use surroundings. TR 5-seven are done inwards parallel a lot of the fourth dimension.

By TR 7 too 8 you need to have got consideredDFM and DFQ, otherwise, it’s risky to approve your paradigm every bit it may not really live manufacturable to your required grade of quality. Reliability, durability, too compliance testing typically occurs during TR vii to ix.

Tooling (and other process validation piece of work)

TR nine may or may non live required, it depends onthe product. If the product is built for utilisation in a real specific surroundings, such as extreme polar conditions, for instance, farther testing inwards those weather may be prudent in order to confirm that the design too prototypes are fix to live ‘locked.’ When fourth dimension pressure is intense, it may live OK to start making tooling (if needed).

In parallel, depending on the type of manufacturing & testing processes are involved, there may live a lot of work to validate those processes. It is better tostart early and piece of work on it inwards parallel alongside R&D work.

Pre-production preparation

There is even so a lot of technology work to do inward social club to assure that nosotros’re make to start mass production.

Pre-production airplane pilot runs are always a must for new products – this is a last chance to bank check that the production blueprint is manufacturable, that the manufacturing process, operators, too materials/components are all working as expected as well as that the production tin can be manufactured involume.

Mass production

Now blueprint too production processes have got been validated, we’re ready to start bulk production. The terminal affair to do is buy too gather larger quantities of the products, ramping up over time.

How are TRLs related to the consumer electronics evolution process?

In consumer electronics, the typical “NPI” (New Product Development) framework includes the TRLs equally good every bit the phases needed until mass production.

  • ProductDevelopment (PD) equivalent of the concept program too TR 1 to 8.
  • Engineering Validation Testing (EVT) is the start of transfer to manufacturing. TR ix may take place in parallel, too even inwards some cases TR 8.
  • Design Validation Testing (DVT) is a constituent of the transfer to manufacturing phase.
  • Production Validation Testing (PVT) is a constituent of the transfer to manufacturing stage.
  • Mass production(MP) – everything has been validated in addition to the electronics can live bulk produced; in that location is nevertheless piece of work to improve the foremost-exceed yield etc. until it is considered mature.

How are TRLs related to the medical device evolution process?

Medical devices, besides, tin can implement the engineering readiness levels during product evolution.

  • There’s the initial planning stage where nosotros prepare the blueprint inputs as well as guide the engineers on what they’ll hold to work with.
  • Collecting regulatory requirements is critical for medical devices. Then nosotros refine the plan in addition to start technical pattern piece of work. Initial hazard analysis is also performed here, so this component part of the procedure is rattling document-heavy. TR 1 to iii power live done in parallel.
  • Development piece of work proceeds, as well as the resulting prototypes are verified too validated (with user testing too perhaps an early on clinical trial); updating risk analyses; as well as preparing for formal clinical evaluation (which may have homeafter the design is frozen in addition to a pocket-size airplane pilot production run has been completed). TR four to 9 are all covered inwards this stage.
  • Process validation (including IQ, OQ, in addition to the PQ airplane pilot run) is rattling of import. This includes on- in addition to off-site installation qualification of new production equipment (if whatsoever), operational qualification, in addition to production qualification that usually involves a pilot run too is relatively similar to PVT and pre-production preparation.
  • Then you lot get into production. Aswith all medical devices, gathering feedback from users in addition to patients is an important activity, as this mail-market place follow-up tin can assist you lot to farther improve the efficacy too security of the device inwards time to come.


The master copy technology readiness levels framework from NASA isn’t for everyone, but TRLs tin can live useful every bit milestones you postulate to accomplish during the product evolution process regardless of whether y’all’re following the master framework, Sofeast’s more generalframework, or those specific to consumer electronics together with medical devices. A large difference between NASA’s master TRL framework and the others is that NASA didn’t focus on pre-production training together with mass production inwards theirs equally their devices were only produced in pocket-size batches mostly past mitt, and so when using a development in addition to manufacturing framework for bulk-produced goods these elements are critical.

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