Have you ever wondered how that ECS Tuning upgrade came to be? Of course, all performance parts begin their life with a need to perform better or differently than the original part, but how does it grow from idea to finished product? Here at ECS, we’re all enthusiasts, which allows us to draw inspiration from a wide range of needs and interests both from our employees as well as what we see in motorsports, in the community, and around the world. More than just the ideas that become parts, we also have a state-of-the-art Research and Development center that makes it possible for us to follow through with in-house development. For the first time, we’d like to give you a look into that entire process so you can see the lifecycle for yourselves as we take you from initial concept to final production here at ECS Tuning. Follow along and see just what goes into the ECS Tuning upgrades before they are installed on your car.
Before designing a new part can begin, we have to come up with the idea. Many times, one of our employees will encounter a problem with an OEM part or find that the upgrades available on the market don’t suit their needs. However it’s found, the idea makes its way to our R&D team and product team for some brainstorming. How can we make it? How do we improve on the original version? What need does this idea fulfill or problem does it solve? These questions and more are asked before we decide whether or not to move forward with designing our solution.
Take, for example, our Fabricated Aluminum Intake Manifolds. We recognized that these platforms experience a power ceiling due to airflow restrictions and lack a solution for meth/multi-port injection. So, we decided to offer a bolt-on upgrade that eliminates the runner flaps, improves airflow, and includes functional ports for an all-around improvement to performance as well as offer more possibilities for your setup. With the concept in mind, we move to the initial design phase.
After we’ve identified the needs, benefits, and desired abilities of the new part in question, our R&D team begins the design process. Most importantly, that involves finding the car in question. Since we have so many enthusiasts here in the building, someone likely has the vehicle we need in-house, which we use for development. However, if we don’t have the car we need, we reach out to members of the Euro community within driving distance of our facility and borrow their car in exchange for final production upgrades.
With the car at our facility, actual design work can begin. We take laser scan data of everything around the part we want to improve or change for accurate 3D CAD modeling, import everything to our software, and start developing our initial designs.
After creating a 3D model of our new part with the data we took from scanning, we print a rapid prototype that we can test, install, and play with in the real world. This is a critical step, as even with modern CAD rendering, it’s possible to miss something that may require a change or tweak to the design we would otherwise never see if everything remained purely digital. By using the most advanced software and design methods paired with real-world applications, we blend the theoretical with the practical to ensure our design is ready for a production prototype.
Probably the least exciting step in our process, but entirely critical to our final production, is the quoting process. We partner with industry-leading manufacturers who can produce our designs at the quality and volume we require, but we still have to double-check everything. Our designs are sent to the manufacturers we identified as the best who then return production and prototype manufacturing quotes to us so we can make sure whatever upgrade we’re developing will be able to hit the market at a price point that’s affordable for enthusiasts who want or need the part.
Once we’ve accepted a quote and landed on a manufacturer, we request a prototype. This time, rather than a 3D-printed ‘mock-up’ like what we produce for rapid prototyping, this prototype is ideally exactly what the final design will look like and how it will perform.
Quality Inspection (Prototype)
With the prototype from our manufacturer in-hand, we perform yet another quality inspection. This time, we focus on the construction, quality, and durability of the part, since it is ideally supposed to be nearly identical to the ‘final design.’ In this stage, we 3D scan, measure, color map, and rigorously critique the design, construction, and features of our new part. If it passes our inspection, we move forward. If not, we identify why it needs revisions and either refine our design or notify the manufacturer if corrections or changes need to be made.
When the prototype either passes its quality inspection the first time or after revisions, we are then able to test what will likely be the final production design. That includes flow bench testing, installation, dyno testing, salt bathing, metallurgy, lab testing, and long-term road testing. We aren’t just installing these parts, taking a lap around our building, and giving them a stamp of approval, either. Our road testing involves hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles of driving in all conditions. The more abuse and mileage we throw at a part, the more likely we are to find any flaws or durability issues that may arise, so we put them through the wringer before they can finally be approved for production.
After that extensive testing, if everything passes, we can place our production order with the manufacturer. They are then responsible for producing our designs within our specifications and delivering the production order to us for one last inspection before we begin marketing the new part.
Quality Inspect Production
Once we have been through all the designing, testing, re-testing, inspecting, we receive our final production batch. Several units are hand-picked for a final quality inspection to ensure everything is as it should be. This involves the same inspection we performed on the prototype, but now it’s on the final version, which means we are extra-critical. If anything is out of place, incorrect, or flawed, we send it back. If the randomly selected parts all pass our tests, then it’s time to market them!
Media, Merchandising, and Marketing
Finally, the last stage of the process. With the final production batch on our shelves and ready to sell, we install a final version for media that we use on the site, on our social media, and in our marketing emails. With the media captured, emails deployed, and hype happening online, we open the brand-new parts up for you to purchase on our site.
So the next time you click that ‘new product’ email or follow a link from a YouTube video, hit ‘add to cart,’ and receive your latest performance goodies, you can think about all the steps that part took before it appeared on our site. All the development, testing, re-testing, inspections, media, marketing, everything, it all started with an idea. The idea that we can improve something, or offer new abilities. That idea, that design process, those brainstorming sessions, all the hands that touched that part before it was ready to market, all happened right here at ECS Tuning thanks to the enthusiasts who make up our company. For the love of performance, style, and most importantly, European cars, we are happy to bring you innovative designs and performance parts that help you do what you enjoy.