Best practices for industrial design

Written by: SOLIDWORKS | Published: 03/20

How will an integrated, collaborative industrial design platform help you improve your performance as an industrial designer? By facilitating best practices for industrial design and enhancing the overall value, impact, and contribution of industrial design to the product development and manufacturing enterprise.

Industrial design does not take place in a vacuum, nor is it relegated merely to the initial stages of product development. To be successful, industrial design needs to be threaded throughout the three primary pillars of product development:

  • Product Planning and Strategy
  • Design and Engineering
  • Prototyping and Tooling

Industrial design plays a vital role throughout each of these stages, with the ultimate goal of carrying a design’s look, feel, and personality all the way to market. That’s the common characteristic of good industrial design practices: the ability to create and maintain a product’s design aesthetics, brand identify, and market differentiation throughout the entire development process—from initial concept development through production preparation—in an integrated fashion, precluding rework and duplicated effort.

Planning and Strategy

The responsibility for transforming an amorphous product idea into a tangible design concept for further development rests with you, the industrial designer. In order for you to create design concepts that spark an emotional response from consumers, convey a consistent brand identify, provide solutions to actual customer needs, and meet engineering and manufacturing requirements, you need to obtain as much insight into the potential product’s use, consumers, and market as you can. The following best practices help industrial designers synthesize consumer, product, and market intelligence into workable ideas, so you can tap your creativity to produce compelling industrial design concepts.

  • Analyze Market Research
  • Define Product Scope
  • Establish Design Parameters
  • Create Look and Feel – Brand Identity
  • Develop Concept Sketches
  • Produce Concept Images

Design and Engineering

Once you’ve created a range of possible industrial design concepts, it’s time to select one particular approach for further development and engineering as a manufactured product. While some may believe that the handoff of an industrial design concept to mechanical designers and engineers constitutes the end of industrial design—and some product development organizations operate this way—industrial design continues to have a role to play in ensuring that design modifications required to meet performance and manufacturing requirements do not obscure or ruin industrial design aesthetics. The following best practices allow industrial designers to continue to make critically important contributions to product development and engineering, particularly when integrated, social-connected solutions facilitate iterations with mechanical designers and engineers.

  • Create Surface Geometry
  • Apply Surface Geometry to 3D Solid Model
  • Conduct Design Reviews
  • Address Performance/Manufacturability Issues

Prototyping and Tooling

After completion of the mechanical design and engineering of a product, industrial design continues to serve an important purpose during production planning prior to manufacturing. Fully appreciating industrial design aesthetics—accounting for both the tactile response and intangible aspects of an actual 3D shape—usually requires the production of an actual physical prototype. Evaluations of rapid prototypes, as well as manufacturability issues, often result in the need for design modifications, which can also affect changes to the original industrial design concept. The following best practices enable industrial designers to continue to maintain design aesthetics all the way through manufacturing. By using an integrated industrial design package, changes required as a result of prototyping and/or manufacturability concerns can be made more quickly, because you won’t have to start over and can output optimized design concepts in formats that support rapid prototyping, tooling development, and actual production.

  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Output Production Data (BOMs, Quality Control Documentation)
  • Tooling Design

With an integrated, social-enabled industrial design solution, you can more efficiently perform these best practices and maintain the industrial design elements that elicit emotional responses from consumers, build product satisfaction, and generate brand loyalty. In addition to utilizing industrial design tools that help you balance the interplay of form, scale, and feel, SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer software lets you collaborate with downstream functions in an integrated manner, which facilitates refinement of initial ideas into viable product concepts by outputting industrial design data in a format that has utility for downstream design, engineering, and manufacturing systems.

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