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Is product design easy? This is a rather controversial question, but it can certainly go smoothly if the designer knows what tools to use at which stage of the design process to make his or her work as efficient as possible! Are you curious what these tools are? Or are you looking for the best solutions for your work as a designer? In this article, we answer what tools we use in our work as industrial designers at the different stages of the design process!

When it comes to developing marketable products, no business or sector can skip the industrial design phase. It calls for a deep familiarity with the company's or industry's unique requirements, as well as a methodical, iterative approach to designing products that can effectively address those requirements. Designers and engineers collaborate closely during the industrial design process to create functional, reliable, and visually beautiful products. The purpose of this method is to provide fresh ideas for fixing existing issues, ultimately leading to superior final goods.

 

1. DESIGNER TOOLS IN PRE-DESIGN

Understanding the needs and requirements of the project is done during the pre-design stage, which is the first step in the industrial design process. To better understand what works and what doesn't, designers will research current goods and technology during this phase. They will also take into account consumer preferences, market trends, and user feedback.

The tools that are essential at this stage:

  • Google Chrome - the internet is an important source of knowledge and information, and a web browser is one of the tools.
  • Mobile phone - as a tool for everything - research, ordering, talking to potential customers, etc.
  • Graphics tools - Photoshop, CorelDRAW, tablet apps (Concepts, Adobe Fresco and others).
  • Rapid prototyping tools, including 3D printers for making PoCs (proof of concept).
  • Google Docs and Presentations - as a method of data collection.
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2. CONCEPTUAL DESIGN - WHAT TOOLS TO USE AT THIS STAGE?

The second stage of industrial design entails coming up with ideas for the product during the conceptual design phase. Designers will conceptualize, sketch, and generate ideas for the product during this phase. This aids in their grasp of how the product ought to seem, feel, and work. This phase's goal is to provide original solutions that satisfy consumer needs while also being practical, attractive, and affordable.

The tools required are:

  • SOLIDWORKS - basic working tool - concepts, first models as a base for more advanced sketching etc.
  • Sometimes tablet apps - mainly for sketching, looking for ideas.
  • Moodboards - aggregating inspiration, searching the internet, etc.
  • KeyShot - as a tool for creating 3D visualisations - not just showing the shape, but working out details, colours, surface finishes etc.
  • Google Presentations - as a method of presenting concepts.
  • In a small number of cases - Gravity Sketch, Unity, Unreal Engine - enabling the preparation of concepts and their presentation in VR.

3. WHAT TOOLS ARE NEEDED AT THE TARGETED CONCEPTUAL DESIGN PHASE?

The third step in the industrial design process, Targeted Conceptual Design, involves developing and fine-tuning the selected concept. Designers will concentrate on coming up with ideas at this stage that are both aesthetically beautiful and functional. They will also think about how to combine various tools and resources to produce a product that satisfies consumer demands while remaining cost-effective.

At this stage, designers mainly use SOLIDWORKS to make mostly cosmetic changes to the model, which then goes through the same process as in stage two.

 

4. DESIGNER TOOLS AT THE MECHANICAL DESIGN PHASE

The fourth step in the industrial design process, mechanical design, is creating a thorough blueprint for how the product will be assembled. Engineers will utilize CAD (Computer Aided Design) software at this stage to develop a 3D model of the final product. They are able to see how everything will come together and function as a whole thanks to this.

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What tools are essential in mechanical design?

  • SOLIDWORKS.
  • Sometimes literature specific to the project topic is consulted - mechanics' handbook, parts catalogues, calculation methods.
  • If necessary - computer simulations of various kinds, but most often MES and kinematics.
  • If using injection moulding technologies, it is worth having a potential toolmaker do a simulation after step 4 to check for potential risks even before the mould is made.
  • Collaboration with electronics - exchanging universal file formats such as STEP, DXF, etc., mainly to parallel match mechanics to electronics and vice versa.
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5. DESIGN FOR MANUFACTURING - TOOLS

The fifth step is Design for Manufacturing. It requires creating the product with economical manufacturing in mind. Engineers will make sure the product can be produced effectively and inexpensively during this stage by taking into account elements like production cost, lead time, quality control, and scalability.

Communication with potential producers is paramount at this stage, so the tools are email, phone, Excel - in short, anything that can improve the communication of technical information about the project.

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6. DESIGNER'S TOOLS IN PRODUCTION SUPERVISION

The sixth and last step in the industrial design process is the Production Supervision phase. Engineers will supervise the production procedure throughout this phase to guarantee that the product satisfies all requirements and quality standards. This guarantees that each product satisfies consumer needs and maintains consistency across all of them.

We use the same tools as in the previous step, but we need to take into account possible travel to a subcontractor or contractor.

 

CONCLUSION

Above all, a good product designer needs to practice self-discipline and continual experimentation in order to create successful products. Every project presents its own challenges, and by using the appropriate tools described in this article, these can be overcome with ease and confidence for a satisfying result. In many cases, successful product design is an iterative process that revolves around the use of the appropriate tools. Ultimately, finding the right combination of processes and the right tools can lead to an excellent final design.

Our team is constantly exploring new avenues within the design field for better solutions at each stage, and we’re always happy to share our insights with those curious about product design!

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