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Design for Manufacture - how easy is this to do in today's workplace?

This is obviously a real concern as recently an Industrial Designers Society of America conference session at NPE 2015 in Orlando discussed precisely this issue. They looked at the roles of designers and engineers, the relationship between them and how we can ‘bridge the gap’.

Designs on a whiteboard“The role of the industrial designer in manufacturing is a familiar one to many, but the relationship between designer and engineer is often fraught with misunderstandings that can throw a project off course,” reports Plastic News in their write up of the conference.

Often, as the designer, material selection and process are considered to be ‘off limits’ as that is the engineer’s job. Likewise, engineers are often unable to make suggestions for change to the design as that is the role of the designer.

The result? Potentially a design that ends up being completely unsuitable for the process.

Augusto Picozza, director of industrial design at Jarden Consumer Solutions, said at the conference, “a good designer can wear multiple hats, understanding engineering, manufacturing and the end market.”

At Plunkett Associates we completely agree. We combine expert material, tooling and production advice with design experience that works hand in hand with the customers needs.

Our Design Engineers know that formulating a design well, requires certain issues to be understood:

(a) how much time is there before the required launch date

(b) what quantities are predicted to be sold across the product life

(c) what is the target unit price and

(d) who is the customer?

CommunicationGood communication with the client is paramount. Once we have as much information as possible, we can translate the idea into a product - designing to suit the manufacturing process from the outset.

Strong links and discussions with our suppliers early on are just as important. Their expertise and knowledge of their specialist fields can be extremely valuable in formulating the best solution for part design.

We’re not saying it’s all plain sailing or even easy, but we have been doing this now for 10 years and have a great track record to prove it!Success

The secret? We enjoy doing what we do and that helps us become better at it! We work as a team, with designers and engineers using each other’s strengths and can often be seen in lengthy discussions bouncing ideas off each other to work out how to get the best solution for a client. 

So the key for anyone involved in trying to get a product to manufacture – it’s really not rocket science. In fact it’s pretty simple – just start talking…

Read more expert articles in our Latest News section where we discuss topics on materials, methods and products.

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