A research and development lab, or R&D lab, is a laboratory type used in virtually every production industry. These labs have a heavy focus on prototyping and experimentation and exist to promote in-house innovation and inventing.
R&D allows a company to stay ahead of its competition, and a dedicated R&D lab can allow companies to design new products and improve their existing offerings. R&D labs have faced fluctuating popularity over the years as various industries have relied on different sources of innovation.
The Importance of R&D
Research and development are an enormous part of the global economy. Even though most companies only spend 5-10% of their budget on R&D, it is still a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States and abroad.
In 2019, business R&D spending totaled $463.7 billion, while government spending on R&D was budgeted at $138.9 billion. That’s over half a trillion dollars in R&D spending in the United States alone!
The United States is the global leader in the amount of money spent on R&D, although South Korea and Israel spend a greater percentage of their GDP.
Research and development isn’t just an important economic sector, though– R&D is responsible for innovation and new technologies and products. Any projects that companies carry out to gain knowledge in their field fall under the umbrella of R&D.
These projects lead to new scientific or technological advancements that can then be used to create new or improved products and services that the company can then use or sell. Nearly every successful company, regardless of its size and industry, carries out R&D at some point.
The R&D Process
R&D is not a simple research process, and this is important to take into consideration when building an R&D lab. A business needs to account for the stages of work that must be done for proper project development.
It is a three-stage process wherein each stage builds on the results of the prior stage. There are typically three different stages of the R&D process, no matter what industry you’re in or what type of lab you run: Basic Research, Applied Research, and Development Research.
When the research objective is to fully understand one particular subject area, rather than any practical application, it’s classified as basic research. Basic research is concerned with the pursuit of a particular scientific advancement without any specific commercial aims.
This research is foundational to the other types of research because to understand how advances can be made, a good understanding of the fundamentals is necessary. The primary outcome of basic research is to provide the first steps in developing a strategy and finding a solution, while also giving the company a better understanding of current trends in the market.
Whatever basic research looks at, R&D physical or data scientists approach it while considering the big picture.
Applied research takes the outcomes from basic research and applies them to determine commercial applicability for new or existing products and services. Applied research is concerned with determining possible uses for the results of previous basic research, or in finding new ways of achieving a specific goal using those prior basic research results.
It forms the second step in the R&D process and lets the R&D team identify solutions, resolve issues, and take advantage of any industry trends.
Development research is the third part of the R&D process. It involves working systematically on a project using existing knowledge gained from research or practical experience to develop a new product, service, or process.
Engineers, data scientists, material scientists, and manufacturing teams can bring ideas to life and ultimately create something that can be sold on the marketplace. New processes brought about by development research can also be used by the company in more effectively and efficiently marketing their products.
The result of development research is often something tangible or an end-stage process that can be used by consumers or other members of the industry at large.
Types of R&D Labs
While any industry can participate in R&D, some industries rely more heavily on it than others. Here are some examples of R&D labs and what is researched for specific industries.
- Chemical R&D Labs: chemical processes for manufacturing
- Communications R&D Labs: VOIP and other data transmission technologies
- Manufacturing R&D Labs: new products and industrial processes
- Materials Science R&D Labs: material development, new uses for existing materials, polymers
- Medical R&D Labs: medical technology, prosthetic limbs, suture material, surgical closures
- Nanotechnology R&D Labs: microchips for phones, computers, and other technology; nanobots and other tiny technologies
- Pharmaceutical R&D Labs: medications, vaccines
- Software R&D Labs: AI, computer programs, algorithms
- Technology R&D Labs: computer processes, computing technology
How An R&D Lab Can Help Your Business
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, huge firms like DuPont Chemical dominated the R&D market across various industries. That is no longer the case.
The majority of R&D isn’t done by these massive companies; it’s done at small startups or as an offshoot of academic research. This means that R&D labs are experiencing more independence than ever before.
Contract research means that smaller businesses can experience great success in the R&D field, as big companies are often more interested in buying the results of research than investing in the first two parts of the R&D process. A smaller business can set itself up as an R&D expert and run multiple labs for multiple industries, then sell the results and return to research.
R&D Lab Planning
Because R&D is done in so many industries, each lab setup type is different. If your industry involves manufacturing, you’ll need CNC machines and 3D printers for rapid prototyping. You may need welding tables, ESD lab tables, or other highly specialized lab furniture.
If you’re in the pharmaceutical or chemical industries, you’ll need access to various types of chemicals and the equipment needed to work with them. You will need safety equipment like fume hoods and biosafety cabinets.
Whether your intended R&D lab focuses on materials science or medical research, you will need various pieces of equipment and lab furniture arranged in a workspace that promotes good workflow and ergonomics.
At OnePointe Solutions, we are experts at building custom casework, countertops, lab tables, and other lab furniture and equipment that will improve your lab’s workflow and efficiency. The time and expense of customizing your lab equipment are worth it; with lab furniture that’s designed specifically for your R&D lab’s needs, your lab’s operations will run smoothly and you will be able to feel secure and satisfied knowing that everything in your lab is top of the line and guaranteed to perform beyond expectations.
OnePointe Solutions is a leading laboratory construction and design firm, scientific furniture manufacturer, and lab builder. Our project history ranges from classrooms to Biosafety Level 3 and 3+ enhanced labs.
Need Help With Your R&D Lab?
Regardless of industry and regardless of lab size, our expert laboratory design team can come up with a plan that’s perfect for your R&D lab. Contact us or give us a call at 866-222-7494 to speak to a lab design specialist today!