Working with an Industrial Design Company: The Design Process

Creating a product for consumer use is determined by a number of factors consolidated into accurate and realistic specifications. These are identified way before the concept is placed on a drawing board.

Dealing with an idea to be transformed into a product is not any way easy; it goes through a meticulous design process. A good industrial design studio does not work on an idea right away and turn it into a material product; instead, the company spends time, effort, and creativity to develop a product in each and every step for it to materialize.

Most of today’s industrial design studios follow basic design processes such as the following:

  1. Analysis

Analysis is the first step towards building a product. Beginning with an idea of a product, this idea is then studied for various requirements. These include product requirements, ergonomic considerations, research, and marketing reports.

Analysis is crucial because while it is fun and exciting to brainstorm an idea for a product, the product itself should be created under the notion that it has an ability to serve its target users. Many product ideas fall apart when it is realized that they don’t have a purpose or practical function, and this is what analysis is for.

  1. Conceptual design

Conceptual design is mostly done in the drawing board. In this step, design concepts, sketches, sizing mockups, rough prototypes, interpreting working mechanisms, and engineering sketching, among others.

Conceptual design focuses more on the technical and functional requirements of the product to see how it works based on the idea it was envisioned to be. This is also the phase where functionality is tested and evaluated for revision, enhancement, and other changes until the product’s technical requirements are achieved.

  1. Preliminary design

Preliminary design meanwhile works on renderings, visual appraisal models, ergonomic testing, and market testing. This is the phase where the product is built and tested, either to a target set of users and sometimes, beta-testing. While the basic functions and practical aspects of the product are already present, these are continued to be evaluated alongside its intended visual appeal.

  1. Detail design

In the detail design, the work is focused on finishing, working prototypes, final market testing, engineering drawings and/or 3D CAD models. The design team puts their effort on the minute details that are essential to the product, as they help improve its functionality, usability, and overall market value.

  1. Production planning

Once a product design is finalized (after all the previously mentioned steps have been undertaken), it undergoes production planning. Producing a product, whether it is a mobile app or a tangible material, costs time, money, and resources. It is in this phase where the production is strategized in terms of tooling design, production supervision, and quality inspection.

For instance, there are products intended for small parts production using plastic materials, while there are products that make use of sheet metal for low quantity manufacturing. Both products have their specific tool and materials requirements that have to be planned and addressed accordingly.

Once a product has been manufactured, it also goes through quality inspection to ensure that it is suitable for market release. In mass production, there can be overruns, underruns, or items that do not pass quality inspection, so they are not released for market consumption. However, there are also products that are not mass produced; these products then undergo rigid quality analysis before they are handed over to a client or end-user.