What is Product Design?

Posted on 01/07/2011 by Chadanuch Pomankul

We’re sure you have come across the words Product Design or Industrial Design before.

But what exactly is Product Design? Is it really “design” in the classical sense? Or is it something completely different. Something that everyone talks about but no one really knows? What’s the difference between “normal” design and Product Design or Industrial Design?

Product Design and Industrial Design is everything about products. No surprises here. But product and industrial design is all about mass-produced things. Items that are produced in thousands and hundreds of thousands. These products require a different level of design because the design needs to translated into an engineering file that will be input into a machine, which in turn churns out your product.

So what’s an example of Product Design? Any mass produced item around you is an example of product design.  The cup sitting next to your desk is the result of product design. The computer, phone or iPad you’re reading this article on is a result of Product Design. Your shaver is an example of Product Design and so are your earplugs, the coke bottle you just bought or the TV in your living room.

Industrial Design or Product Design is different to “normal” design. When a designer creates a design for himself or a client the outcome is, and very likely will be, unique. But Product Design is designed from the start to be mass-produced.

A Product Designer or Industrial Designer needs to be aware of production processes and possess a good understanding of manufacturing. He or she needs to know how to make a product that not only looks good but can be manufactured as well.

That’s why the approach to product and industrial design is different. You don’t just take your pen and get started. You need to be systematic in your approach from the start. Otherwise you will end up with a fantastic looking design sketch on paper, which is too complicated or too expensive to make in production.

At DETEKT we use our proven five-stage model to make sure your new innovations and products won’t end up as only a fancy idea, but that they make it to the hands of the consumers.

 

Stage 1: Research:

So you want to produce a cool looking coffee machine. But there’s more to it. To whom do you want to sell it to? American customers, European customers or Chinese customers? Do you target young Professionals or retired University Professors? What machines are already on the market? How are they designed? This (and many more) questions need to be answered in the research part.

The research part is similar to a market research study. However, we prefer to call it “Design Research” as the focus is on the Product Design. During this process we check similar products on the market, how they are designed, which consumer group the design is targeted to, what materials are used and how they are manufactured.

A thorough research study is needed for any Product Design to understand how the product will be positioned in the market when it is launched.

 

Stage 2: Concept Design:

So you made your homework. You know what similar products are on the market, how they are designed, manufactured and what materials are being  used. Now it’s time to get going with the design of your new product.

We let our creative designers think about new innovative designs for your product.  Depending on the results and agreed direction in Stage 1 we will design it modern, conservative or distinctive to be positioned where you want it in the market.

Our designer all have manufacturing experience. They are aware what materials we will use during production and understand manufacturing processes. So they won’t come up with a crazy idea that’s not to produce. During the Concept Design Stage we constantly are in touch with you to make sure we hit your requirements right on the spot.

 

Stage 3: Engineering

This is a very critical stage. During the engineering stage the concept design is transferred to a 3D CAD file. Files that an industrialmachine can read to produce your product. You need to make sure you have experienced engineers involved during this stage. Just half a millimetre too much or too little and your whole product might be a failure.

After this stage we’ll send you a viewable 3D file to check. So you can play around with your product on your computer screen – it’s almost real. But just not quite.

 

Stage 4: Prototyping

That’s the fun part. At least for you. It’s the first time you will hold your product in in your own hands. We pass the engineering files to our prototype team. They will produce a prototype that will look and feel like the end product. There may be some elements of the product that cannot be imitated at the prototype stage and these will be outlined in advance. The prototype stage is essential to see how your product will look and perform in reality. Three dimensional computer graphics might be nice to look at, but you need to hold something real in your hand to appreciate it.

Stage 5: Manufacturing Documentation

If you’re happy with the prototype we will create the necessary manufacturing documentation to outline each component with the information the factory needs to know. Documentation includes all drawings and files that are required by the factory to  produce your product.

If you want to manufacture your products in China, DETEKT also assists with this. From Design to Engineering, Prototyping and setting up the right manufacturing supply chain for your needs – everything out of one hand.

 

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