Product design is an art form in itself. Engineers need to create a product that serves its intended purpose but also looks appealing enough for customers and clients to buy it. It is a very difficult balance to achieve, but somehow the best engineers in the world are still coming up with ideas that fit both criteria so that businesses can continue to make a profit and succeed.
However, nothing is perfect, and while you may believe that your product has met the correct standards, there are always things that you can improve upon. Therefore, this article will provide you with a checklist of tips to use to improve the design of your products so that you can get the most out of your manufactured goods.
Include Manufacturing In The Design Process
The first step that most engineers will take when designing something new is to consider its purpose. The product needs to work effectively, so they will put all their time and attention into functionality. Next, they will make tweaks to ensure that the product looks appealing. However, the design process rarely addresses the manufacturing process.
Manufacture is an expensive part of running a business, which means that you should aim to make the process as streamlined and cost-effective as possible. Unfortunately, a complicated product design can ruin this idea. Therefore, you should always encourage your engineers to focus on how the product is going to be manufactured when they are creating their designs. This approach will also ensure that your product is shipped out a lot quicker and customers respond well to good service.
Multi-Layered Design Teams
While it is certainly cheaper for you to hire a single design team and have them work on your products, these individuals may only have strengths in one area of design. For example, an engineer is capable of creating objects that are fit for purpose, but they aren’t always familiar with what product design is most appealing for the current market. That is a set of knowledge that your marketing team should possess.
Therefore, you should try to encourage a dialogue between these two teams. Let each one work to their strengths, and then pass the project back and forth until you have a fully optimized design idea. Since you also include thoughts about the manufacturing process in the design phase, you can also include your manufacturing team in this strategy as well.
Consider Your Customer’s Wallets
There is always going to be the perfect material that fits a certain design specification, and it can seem like a logical choice to always go for what is best. However, these materials come at a cost, and you need to recoup that cost by selling products to your customers. If the materials that you have used are driving your prices up, then your customers aren’t going to have the means to buy your product.
Product design isn’t always about using the most efficient materials; instead, you must use the most efficient materials within your price range. Take a look at similar products on the market to find out what the average price is for the item you are selling. If the materials that you are using are taking you above this price threshold, then it is time to scale back. Research is a key part of product design, so make sure that you have considered every aspect of the market.
Use Topology Optimization
There are several design factors that have nothing to do with market perception or pricing. Instead, they require a deep knowledge of mathematical principles. That is why you hire a trained team of professional engineers to conduct your product design, after all. One of these principles is topology optimization. So, what is topology optimization? The theory behind topology optimization uses mathematical equations to distribute the materials used in your product design within the constraints of a set area.
In short, it is a process that aims to keep material weight relevant to the size of the product that you wish to make. You wouldn’t want to play a guitar that has a head that is far heavier than the body, for example. Topology optimization is a concept that is in the design of almost everything that you own. You just don’t realize it. Its job is to make sure that everything within the product works properly and that said product feels good to use.
A prototype is a mock-up rendition of a product that is used to test the design in a three-dimensional space. This prototype is supposed to give you a clear picture of how the product both looks and functions. If there is an obvious error, you can send the product back to the drawing board so that the mistake can be rectified. However, a common mistake that many product designers make is that they address this one issue and then believe that the product is fine for manufacture.
Unfortunately, the changes that you have just made to one section may have knock-on repercussions elsewhere in the design. Therefore, it is important to create a new prototype for every design aspect that you change to ensure that your product is truly fit for sale. It may sound laborious and time-consuming, but there are newer technologies out there that can help you during the prototype stage. Digital twins can create an accurate, 3D prototype of your product in digital space so that you can test it without spending money on development costs. Furthermore, this software allows you to test the prototype against real-world conditions so that you can see how it would respond.
Everything that your design team has to work with has been decided by how the engineering process has functioned in the past. While these processes have worked reliably before, they can often make it difficult for product designers to think outside the box. This can sometimes lead to stagnation, and a lack of imagination is very apparent to consumers. You want to create something that stands out, but that can be difficult when you are forced to use the same old approach.
Sometimes, throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks is the best way to create a new and exciting product. However, this approach is not used nearly enough because design teams do not have the tools necessary to experiment. Try and encourage this experimentation by asking your designers what they need. Let their minds race and be creative. Doing so will result in something completely different from what already exists on the market and with the other strategies that were mentioned above in place, you can reliably refine an idea until it works to the specifications of today’s market.
Artificial intelligence is a business leader’s best friend. You can use this automatic technology service to search for data on the web and create reports based on the findings. Therefore, you can use this technology to provide your design team with the most current and innovative product designs on the market. What’s more, you can also use AI to chart the progress of your current designs to see what works and what doesn’t. Basically, artificial intelligence can provide your design team with relevant feedback from all over the web in real-time. You may think that this process is too time-consuming to implement in your company, but AI is a technology that works automatically. This means that you can receive up-to-date market research wherever you request it.
Ask For Feedback From Investors
There are many things that go into making a great product. Engineering skill, creativity, and tenacity are all relevant abilities to have in the workplace; however, there is one trait that tops all these, and that is experience. Your investors are there to provide your business with finances, but they are also likely to be industry veterans, many of which will still be working in the field.
The problem with trying to design a new product is that you aren’t always familiar with the mistakes that history has already made. Fortunately, you have a wealth of experience to draw from in your board of investors, so don’t be shy about asking for advice.
They want you to succeed just as much as you do, and if that requires you to ask them for their opinion then they will be happy to oblige. Of course, no one is right one hundred percent of the time, but these industry veterans can help point you in the correct direction. So, next time you are struggling with a way to improve your product design, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Product design is a collaborative process, so the more voices you have on hand to contribute, the better.
Product design seems like an easy process on the surface; however, good product design is a lot harder to achieve. Follow the advice above, and you will find that you can reliably improve this process.