We are living in a fast-paced society where consumers expect things to be delivered or available quicker. Markets and businesses are under increasing pressure to constantly design products or improve new ones to keep up with demand and maintain their competitiveness.
This is where product design comes in. Product design is all about developing a product and taking it from concept to market and beyond.
There are two types of products when it comes to product design. There are physical products such as those for industrial product design (technology and engineering), Architecture, Interior, Graphic, Fashion and digital, and then there’s software such as Motion Graphics and Game Design, User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design and many more.
What is Product design in industry?
Product design in industry is the process of creating or inventing a part or product from concept to production. It consists of several research and action steps that help develop an all-round product that can be manufactured then taken to market.
There are several steps to product design:
- Identifying the problem and solution
Before creating a product you need to identify a market demand or challenge. Once identified, brainstorming or ideation sessions will help create numerous concepts for products or solutions. You will often find that many of the initial proposed ideas or solutions are fine, but may not be feasible due to certain factors, however this will help to narrow it down to just one or two solutions that can be developed further.
Learn more about ideation in product design here.
- Concept design
Concept design is where ideas are sketched down as an initial method of visualisation. It helps both the customer and designer to decide on the overall shape and features of a product during the product design process.
- Product Design Specification
This is the stage where aspects in the product’s design are specifically defined and agreed to optimise the design for the required application.
The following should be considered during the product design specification stage:
- Working environment and conditions
- Lead time
A more in-depth check list can include:
- Material selection
- Surface finish
- Sustainability/ Chemical/Thermal/Electrical/Magnetic property requirements.
The above properties can be considered at different stages of the product design process. For example, cost and constraints are usually considered at the very start, whereas surface finish and tolerances can be specified just before the manufacturing step.
- Simulation (optional)
This is the stage where the performance is calculated by a simulation software, providing a comparison between the desired working conditions of the product.
- Prototype Design
Creating a prototype enables you to have a physical model of the product to check design specifications or use as a marketing tool for investment purposes. Additive manufacturing technology can be used for making prototypes in metals or plastics, depending on the nature of the product.
- Testing and Validation
This is when the prototype can be tested for performance and functionality. Depending on the product complexity, this step can be after prototype production or before revised design. For example, in automotive, the draft body shape made of soft materials can be used in aerodynamic tests, whereas those with structural purpose will require several prototypes using different materials, processes or loading conditions.
- Revised design
Revised design is where the designers and the customer can perform edits on the final design (if necessary) before proceeding to the manufacturing stage of the product.
- Design for Manufacturing
This is the stage of product design where the production of the part is optimised for minimal cost and lead time whilst ensuring high quality and consistency.
Feedback may be required prior to market release. This is common with products that are subjective to the users, meaning that a large part of the product is aesthetics, functionality and practicality. Consumer testing and using the product daily is often used to provide feedback to the designers/developers for product refinement.
More standardised and technical products such as heavy industrial products and tools, once tested and certified, are heavily specification related and often customer feedback is not a necessity.
- Design changes after production
After market release and consumer use, products should be re-evaluated and improved. All healthy culture organisations take feedback constructively and gradually improve the product, either by optimising supply chain and manufacturability or by keeping up with technology, trends, needs and relevance.
A product design is not necessarily a new product for the market but can be a solution in the production line to improve methodology and practicality to the operators. This can help reduce lead times and costs, thus providing more competitive prices for the consumer.
Additive Manufacturing can be used as a tool to help create both conceptual or working prototypes to improve existing processes or create a brand-new product.
Our product design team has experience turning ideas into reality through our suite of product development technology.