In our first and second post on Design Thinking, you were flying as a designer among the clouds, conjuring the craziest of ideas. Now, you need to don the engineer’s hat and come back the earth of practicality.
Once the concepts from the exploration phase are gathered and few inspiring ones are chosen for further development, the designer molds himself to think like an engineer. It starts with conducting in-depth ergonomic studies. If we take the example of the backpack we were designing in the previous post, one will have to study the percentile of population for whom the product is being designed, the maximum size of the bag that one can carry, the strain on his/her body and many other related human factors.
When the ergonomic studies are done a number of operations start simultaneously. Making a 3D model using a CAD software is the most essential, as it brings out all the requirements and flaws in the concept. The designer (who wears the engineer’s hat now) is always thinking of the manufacturability of every part and feature that he is adding. This also helps in identifying what materials and manufacturing processes will be required to make the bag. So as he is making his 3D model, he is simultaneously collaborating with the suppliers and vendors.
Now if the designer and engineer are not the same person things can get a little rough here. This mostly happens when the designer refuses to come back to earth and the engineer refuses to fly. To avoid this tussle the designer must have a brief understanding of the manufacturing processes and material properties. At the same time the engineer too must try to push the boundaries of his knowledge to discover new ways to manufacture what the designer needs. In today’s competitive world its best if the designer and engineer are the same person to ensure that the product can be produced much faster.
Once the entire CAD model is done and a bill of materials is prepared, the 3D file is sent for prototyping. The first prototype almost always has flaws. It brings out all the mistakes that the engineer has made while designing the model and they are immediately rectified. A detail engineering drawing is then prepared, which is sent to make the second prototype. This prototype is almost often the complete product and is sent ahead for manufacturing.
This entire process explained in this post is where majority of the design time is spent. It is a job that requires lot of experience and knowledge. This knowledge needs to be constantly updated as new materials and manufacturing process are being discovered everyday. So, this was our attempt to give you a gist of what a designer goes through from just a thought in his head to a product in his hand. Did it spark any ideas inside that head of yours? Feel free to get in touch with us to pick our brains on ideas and design. Until then, Happy Designing.