5 Essential Tips for Product Designers

Product designers

From sketch to end result, product creation is a journey. The product design world is a mix between vision and pragmatism, combined with creativity, technical skills, and entrepreneurship.

Industrial product design often relates to discrete manufacturing of any product, from large mass electronics and domestic goods until very specific appliances and industrial machinery. Regardless the industry they work in, product designers should be involved in the businesses processes and customers feedback.

Any product designer needs to know how to mix creativity with logical vision and requires solid knowledge in model making, good technical skills, computer-aided design / CAD basics, and also project management skills.

Main Responsibilities of Product Designers

Product Designers

Product designers usually specialize in a specific product type. It is essential to ensure that their work result is easy to use, qualitative, cost-effective to produce, and attractive to the users. For this, product designers need to understand their clients’ needs and how much they are ready to spend on a product that satisfy those needs.

Depending of the project’s nature, product designers’ main tasks are usually to:

  • create the product brief, investigating what the client wants;
  • see how existing products work
  • visualize ideas by making initial sketches and outline plans;
  • choose the necessary materials and resources;
  • use computer design software to create product detailed blueprints;
  • make prototype samples or working models;
  • test designs to see what works well;
  • refine the designs to solve any problems or faults.

In all stages, product designers join forces with product engineers, model makers, engineering simulation and testing specialists, and manufacturing engineers. They can be part of any manufacturing in-house design team working on a new product launch, work as freelancers, or open design consultancy firms.

5 Essential Things Product Designers Should Know

Early in the product development process, product designers should consider these five tips when starting the product design phase of the product:

product designers

Source: Onshape – Design and visualization from any device

1. Collaborate in a heterogeneous team with different goals – engineers and product designers have different objectives for a project outcome. Engineers are interested in pragmatic goals of product development like product reliability, quality, dimensional details, materials supply, and manufacturing processes. Product designers are more focused on creative aspects such as design features, user experience, and competitive alternatives. Important is for all team members to work together and achieve the goals of the project. Allowing collaboration between team members, cloud-based CAD and CAE solutions offer the means for a very effective team work anywhere, anytime, and from any device.

2. Simple thinking – product designers should have no interest to complicate development processes. Acting as essential creation pivots in the product development process, a product designer’s role is to ensure a perfect fit between product functionality and design. Any new product should be first of all easy to use and attractive through its simplicity.

Using a CAD software delivered as SaaS (Software as a Service) like Onshape, any product manager can collaborate in real time with all others engineering and manufacturing team members, but also with partners and clients as well. This way, they can control how the simplicity of the design concept better fits the final goals of the new product, even from the first stages.

3. Look to existing products – Customers need practical and better products. Nobody expects to reinvent the wheel for this purposes. Before starting the design conception, any product designer should initiate existing products reviews and investigate competitors’ products features and functionalities. Using CAD and CAE software platforms in the cloud, product designers could ensure real time optimization of the existing product, working on the same digital model. Partners and clients could preview the prototype digital image on any mobile device, and designers could improve product design, dimensions or material, starting from the previous models.

4. Prototype testing – product designers and engineering teams should benchmark new products, evaluating how new features and functionalities can be implemented into the product design. Before manufacturing, product testing is required; experienced product designers prefer to do virtual testing through CAE/ simulation and then create physical prototypes.

SimScale - Turbulent airflow around a motorbike

Source: SimScale – Turbulent airflow around a motorbike

5. Have trust in simulation – engineering simulation is not the alternative to physical prototyping, but is rather a key step that needs to be taken before, giving a cost-effective way to test designs through numerical analyses, change it accordingly and improve it before creating costly physical prototypes and thus reducing their number.

And providing a new way of performing engineering simulation, cloud-based CAE platforms like SimScale offer the better and cost-effective solution for virtual testing.

Read about 3D simulation in cloud benefits compared to classical on-premise engineering solutions.

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