Industrial Design is the bridge between the concept or initial prototype, and a real product designed for manufacture and assembly. It can involve creating initial concepts, product styling and ergonomics, optimisation techniques such as finite element analysis (FEA), rapid prototyping & CAD visualisation and intelligent selection of materials and manufacturing methods. JWD Ltd has relevant industrial design experience of developing projects ranging from laboratory equipment and robotics to consumer electronics and blue sky concepts, and can offer engineering design consultancy and computer aided design tailored to your project's requirements.
When considering the process of bringing a new product or idea to fruition, in essence, the process can be broken down to the following four stages:
We consider what we’re going to do. We consider how we’re going to do it. We design it, and then we make it.
Each project commences with defining the brief. This document forms the basis and scope for any new product development and in many ways is the most important part of any project. It is important that the designer is able to fully understand not just the purpose of the idea but also the market into which the product will be sold and in how many territories around the world, in what volumes it is perceived it will be produced and the estimated lifecycle it will follow. A thorough understanding of the client’s brand is required to ensure the new product fits into that identity and market position and for projects involving new technology or IP research of competitors, patents and scientific literature is necessary. The brief can (and often does) evolve day by day, week by week, and it also forms the basis of the project planning and budgeting for the development costs.
Once the brief (or project specification document) has been formulated the process of creating the first design ideas can begin. Working closely with the client and by applying a deep knowledge of the product development process the industrial designer can now focus on developing concepts that appeal to the specific needs of the brief. Typical outputs of this stage would be sketch or rendered product concepts, often including early 3D CAD geometry, and styling boards, ergonomic studies and any investigative research the client and designer agree are necessary to better understand the specific challenges of the brief. Discussions with the manufacturing partner(s) should also commence at this stage to ensure correlation between the design ideas and the capabilities of the client’s manufacturing resource.
This stage involves selecting a direction for the design to take and then to develop the detail, complete the design for manufacture and generate all documentation, drawings etc required to handover the design to the manufacturing partner(s). This could involve the fabrication of a series of prototypes, both block mock-ups and additive manufactured models, which assist in understanding the direction the design is taking and form useful demonstration models for clients, customers and interested parties. This stage would normally conclude with the release of the design for tooling and the production of pre-volume parts which can be used for life testing, customer demonstrations, product refinements etc. It would be fair to say that this stage often represents the largest number of man-hours within the project to complete.
After further detailing and refinements and tooling sign-off it may be concluded that the design is complete. However, once parts have been released to tooling it is very important that the manufacturing processes are controlled very closely. Retaining focus on the manufacturing processes and overseeing the transition from prototype through to volume production will ensure the product is correctly delivered, that quality standards are adhered to and that the tooling remains within budget. This stage can involve the specification of particular materials from which to manufacture the product to ensure compatibility with emerging global legislation, and it also involves any packaging design, graphics, marketing support material and project handover. The industrial designer can provide insight and technical expertise over a product’s development programme as the activity involves so many aspects of bringing new ideas to fruition.
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