The industrial design, development and manufacturing processes of products

In this post we hope to demystify the term “product development” by sharing with you our personal design process in our studio. While this process changes considerably from project to project, according to the project's subject, stage, scope, needs and time & budget limitations, there are still a few constant stages that we do in almost every project and which we will explain here. So let's get to it!

Project development stages change considerably from product to product according to various parameters. Some of these parameters are the product’s field (medical, defense, electronics, furniture, plastics, etc.), the product’s stage of development (feasibility study, technological development, improvement of an existing product, etc.) and the project’s time and budget. However, there are still a few stages that we perform in almost all our projects (even though their breadth changes according to the project’s needs). In this post we will explain these stages using a study case which showcases the design process of an electronic product we designed called Flipper.

1 — Defining the Brief

During the first stage of the design process we define the project’s brief. Usually our clients arrive to us with a rough need or goal in mind, but there are always important “blanks” that must be filled in in order to establish a solid design brief.

This process is done by gathering relevant background information from the client’s various team members/departments (management, marketing, logistics and engineering) and by conducting design research in order to define elements such as: competitive landscape, key stakeholders, stakeholders pains and gains, user insights, ux guidelines and technical and functional requirements.

Design research is performed by using various research methods including: online research techniques, observation, interviews, questionnaires and more. At the end of this stage the client is presented with a detailed brief of the project which outlines the project’s specification and strategy and is refined and perfected together with the client until completion.

design research and user analysis
User analysis research
During this stage we study the engineering design of the product and evaluate if any changes (such as component placements, pcb shape, etc.) are needed in order to improve the product’s usability and aesthetics and assist the industrial design of the product.
1:1 cardboard model was used for evaluating the engineering components sizes physically.
3d printed model was used for evaluating the height of the engineering components physically.

2 — Concept Development

During the concept stage we develop preliminary design concepts based on the client-approved brief. The concept stage is for us the heart of the creative process and kinda where the magic happens : ) Although this process might seem artistic, it is in fact a methodological creative process which is informed by data, technology and strategy.

Concept generation is done through sketches, models of various fidelity types, storyboards and more. At the end of the process the client is presented with a number of design concepts which implement the project’s brief, strategy, added values and engineering concept. From these concepts the client selects a chosen concept to move forward with to the next stages of the design process.

Concept sketches
Concept sketches
Concept sketches
Concept sketches
Concept sketches
Concept sketches
Concept sketches
Competitive product analysis
Initial models for concept evaluation
Concept renderings

3 — Design for Manufacturing

During this stage the chosen concept is developed and refined in detail until it becomes a manufacturable product. In this stage the shape, parting line and meeting points between parts, product graphics and materials are meticulously iterated and refined and are integrated in high resolution with other product components such as electronics, mechanics and engineering requirements.

During this stage the design is optimized for manufacturing, regulations and cost and CMF (color, material and finishes) are defined in detail. This stage is performed using 3d printed models to test and refine the design, ergonomics and functionality.

Thermal analysis is done in order to optimize the venting holes of the product
Plastic shell design evaluations are performed using 3d printed models that allow testing elements such as snaps, light bleeds and much more.
3d printed SLA model before it is cleansed from supports
A 3d printed model testing the integration between the electronic components and the plastic shell design

4 — Manufacturing Support

After the design is complete we supply full manufacturing documents. We support and advise our clients through the process of manufacture sourcing, RFQ, tooling and mold concepts and DFM reviews. During the manufacturing process we supply fast solutions to problems and questions arising in the manufacturing process, inspect and supply comment reports on initial manufactured parts (T1- Tfinal) and escort our clients until parts are approved for manufacturing.

Initial test injection moldings

Draft angle analysis
Wall thickness analysis
Ejector placement analysis
Mold CAD file
Final mold