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What is ideation in product design?

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Our in-house consultant design and visualisation manager, Paul Tallon, talks you through what is ideation, why it’s a good starting point for a product design process and how the design team at the 3M BIC can turn your vision into reality.

Ideation is often the most exciting stage in a design thinking project. During ideation, the aim is to generate a large quantity of ideas that you can then filter down into the best, most practical or most innovative in order to inspire new and improved design solutions and products.

Ideation is an important element of consultant design and is the basis of every client piece of work we undertake at the 3M BIC. If there is a problem that needs to be fixed with a component, product or process, our team sits down with the client to identify salient issues and talk about potential tools that can be utilised to solve any design challenges.

For example, a project may focus on the efficiency in the training of operatives on a piece of equipment. Does it need to be created in 2D as a video? Are there requisites for the video to be made from 3D assets? Perhaps a training aid must be prototyped so that there is a hands-on element? Or perhaps augmented reality is the key to a unique offering?

There is great emphasis on the multiplicity of ideation, as every piece of client work we embark on could utilise dozens of different disciplines, hardware platforms or software solutions. It is our job as consultant designers to make sure that each aspect is streamlined for the client and their expectations are managed properly to produce a project with the right outcomes. Whether it’s producing a physical prototype, a 2D visualisation or scanning an existing part optically through X-Ray, this is all generated from a comprehensive ideation process.

The best way to consider design consultancy from a client’s perspective is to make sure that all the necessary information is readily available to the consultant designer. The most successful projects are those which holistically combine the industry knowledge of the client and our own expertise in the production and operation of our technology.

If you are considering utilising the design engineering skills at the 3M BIC, first think about the application of the component, product or process in question:

  • Is it economically relevant to be redesigned?
  • Can design for assembly (DfA) or for manufacture (DfM) be considered as part of the increase in efficiency instead of a redesign?
  • What value is being added from creating a new product?
  • Does it provide an edge over the competition?
  • Are there other conventional technologies that may offer a more affordable option?

Having considered the above and all other elements point toward a redesign, then ideation is the best route to genuine innovative and unique product development.

Ideation should create a brand-new offering, incorporating several different beneficial aspects to the overall design, such as:

  • light-weighting – the removal of non-essential or legacy material from conventional manufacturing processes
  • functional efficiency – the increase of performance through optimising structure i.e. the flow through a non-conformal cooling system
  • part-consolidation – the combining of several elements within one design in order to reduce manufacturing costs and increase part efficiency
  • efficiency in supply chain and manufacture – the reduction in reliance on shipping and inventory stock parts by direct localised production.

Ideation provides the opportunity to create innovative ideas to integrate into your new component, product or process, so use the inception phase to think laterally about how you can make your product or process the best on the market.

Following ideation, as consultant designers we can then consolidate all the requirements to create the desired result for the client or even generate an entirely new product offering that had not been considered previously.

If you’re looking to improve an existing product or create a new one, why not arrange a meeting with the 3M BIC’s design and visualisation team to see how we can modify and evolve your product line

Call the design and visualisation team on 01484 505601 or e-mail tech@3mbic.com if you would like to find out more.

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