Design for Production

Production issues will make or break your product. Understanding of materials and processes is not enough in today’s environment.  Design for assembly and disassemble, with recycling of materials, have becoming important considerations.

Standardize

Minimizing part count and using standardized fasteners throughout your operation are best practices for engineering and purchasing departments.

Ergonomic issues can be just as important for your assembly team as for your end user.  High volume manufacturers can measure the importance of these items. Smaller manufacturers can easily overlook the benefits of attending to these details.

Beauty inside Nikon Many times the beauty of the product is just under the skin. It can be enhanced by the techniques used in production and assembly. With the best designs, this beauty shows through to the consumer. Why is this important? Because it saves the manufacturer time and materials which relates to cost of the final product.

Design Network has a design team with the knowledge to give your production a major competitive advantage.

Design for People

electronics_300x200People respond to products that are attractive and are perceived as adding value. Shape, form, color, texture, material, when combined in the right way will attract a buyers attention. Studies have shown that when cost between products is equal, customers will buy the better looking product.

It’s a fact that many manufacturers overlook. Spending time early in the development process gathering information on what the consumer values, then creating quick appearance sketches, computer sketch models and 3D appearance models, will help drive your products design in the right direction.

Since we’re all people, many may think it straight forward to design with us in mind. The fact that there are more than 317 million of us in the United States alone, male and female, young and old, small, medium, and large sizes, it is considerably more difficult than at first glance. Enter Henry Dreyfuss , the celebrated Industrial Designer from the 30’s and 40’s who applied a common sense approach to design and made significant contributions to ergonomics and human factors.

Measurement of Man by Henry DreyfussErgonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.

International Ergonomics Association

An intuitive knowledge of how the product functions and a proper feel during operation, have never been more important to people. Consumers are becoming very sophisticated users. This is most apparent in consumer electronics and the design of electronic control devices. As component prices continue to fall, they have proliferated onto everything and have flooded the market place. Today electronic and mechanical devices have to function seamlessly between the user’s mind and product operation.

Consumer products are not alone when it comes to improvements that can be gained by the study and understand of design for people. Industrial equipment can be improved, where human control, monitoring or component assembly is required.

The understanding and proper application of data from the measurement of humans is a critical part of designing for people.

Design Network associates are trained in proper use of ergonomic data.  When it is coupled with the gathering of user metrics and the testing of assumptions with (sometimes very quick) prototypes, this knowledge can provide valuable insight into the final form and function of your product.

Design for Materials

Every design and engineering school has a course on materials and processes.  They deal with material properties for metals in sheet, cast or machined form and stone or concrete.

Microsoft Word - Document1Since the 1940’s the number of materials have grown rapidly with the addition of petroleum based polymers in their varied families, structure and the processes that form them into usable items. Plastics have the ability to be tailored to specific applications with specific properties. Add to that a wide range of fiber reinforcements and the options are almost endless.

I’ve had some interesting discussions about the use of plastic materials. How they should look, or not look, like a copy or representation of another material.

This is referred to as truth to materials. A tenet of modern architecture which holds that any material should be used where it is most appropriate and its nature should not be hidden.

It was always an interesting subject to contemplate but just adds to the confusion of where and how to use Plastics. These materials in themselves are just globs of goo. But when temperature is applied and or chemical cross-linking of the material occurs (polymerization) thermoplastics become more or less viscous, while thermosetting plastics become non-reversible solids. That’s a pretty simple explanation of a complex chemical process that can produce a very wide range of materials with very different properties. Needless to say, plastics only become something when we decide what that something should be.

Define Part FeaturesWhich brings me to my point. One of the early steps in the product development process is to define the requirements of the product you are trying to create. These include mechanical properties, chemicals it will come in contact with, the environment it will be used in, temperature range during operation, product volume and cost range. Then we can choose the materials and manufacturing processes that best fit those characteristics. Define the product characteristics and then choose the material, not the other way around.

Having a design team with the knowledge to get you though this material maze is critical to the success of your product. Design Network can help!