Prioritizing Concepts through Collaboration

Written by: SOLIDWORKS | Published: 03/20

After you’ve created as many industrial design concepts as you can in the available time, how do you go about prioritizing concepts for future development?

Traditionally, the selection of industrial design concepts occurs during a concept review meeting. However, by incorporating a social and collaborative aspect to the conceptual phase of industrial design, you can easily obtain and consider feedback and insights during the concept creation process as opposed to after the fact. You can save time and effort, as well as influence initial concept creation in positive ways, and more importantly, take advantage of these inputs at the right time. By prioritizing concepts early in the process, you can devote more time to developing concepts that have merit instead of continuing down design avenues that lead nowhere.

Sharing and Communicating Concepts

Once you’ve created a set of industrial design concepts, how do you efficiently share them and effectively communicate them with all the key internal and external product audiences? Historically, the methods used to present industrial designs have ranged from physical mockups to artist’s renderings to computer-generated photorealistic images. Sharing and communicating design concepts in these formats traditionally requires getting all of the people involved in the process in the same place at the same time, which in itself can be challenging. Other options, such as composing emails or conducting an online conference are also time-consuming. How much more efficient could you be operating within an industrial design workflow in which sharing and communicating concepts to key audiences didn’t require you to do anything?

The Social Aspect of Industrial Design

As an industrial designer, understanding the mindset of the customer is critically important to what you do. Social innovation occurs when the voices, expertise, and insights of key players in a market space form a single, dynamic community, which influences, guides, and fosters the development of innovative industrial designs. Social innovation is so vital to the development of successful industrial designs that most leading manufacturers have formal voice of the customer programs. Accurately capturing the customer point of view is a social, iterative process, demanding a social-networked approach to industrial design that allows you to manage and control these communications, so vital information and innovative ideas don’t get lost.

The Power of Parametrics

Most industrial designers are familiar with design tools ranging from sketching to freeform modeling to surfacing software. However, solely using a conventional surfacing package to create concepts can result in incomplete designs that lack important features requiring additional clean-up. For example, try making a hole cut in a traditional surfacing package. Many industrial designers have long sought a way to marry surface and parametric modeling to eliminate downstream product development tasks. The ability to turn on design parameters—rules and constraints that define and clarify the relationship between design intent and design response— allows you to visualize how a change to a specific design feature will ripple throughout the rest of your design, as well as adapt one concept into other concepts from a common, in-process starting point. By adding parametric modeling to your design toolbox, you’ll gain a valuable resource for both creating and refining industrial design concepts, as well as delivering more complete, fully featured designs that help compress downstream workflows.

Delivering Usable Industrial Design Data

While the final product of your efforts is an industrial design concept, the manner by which you deliver the final concept plays a role in either speeding or slowing the products overall time-to market. If your industrial design is essentially an image, or comprised of only surface geometry, it will need to be recreated or reworked in CAD software to support further development, a process that takes additional time. On the other hand, if your industrial design concept is an actual geometric model file, modifying it for importing and repurposing in other design, engineering, rapid prototyping, and manufacturing applications can save time and accelerate time-to-market.

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