Product designing is witnessing a constant change in processes used for it as customers are eyeing out for more sophisticated customization. Today, disrupted supply chains need alternate sources for materials and components which is why manufacturers across the globe face increasing pressure to maximize agility while minimizing waste. Now, products are no longer static objects. In fact, the “end product” continues to evolve and grow in functionality once it’s delivered.
It gives rise to new challenges for designers, engineers, and manufacturers. But all thanks to the technology that we’re able to come up with solutions and added opportunities in this space. For instance, emerging technologies like AI help us build digital tools that can support a whole new generation of products that are customer-centric, resilient, and sustainable.
What is Product Design?
The process of product design is all about defining real people’s problems and coming up with possible solutions that can help us create usable products and experiences. As its extension, it goes way beyond the basic definition as the process combines various skillsets such as user experience design and customer research.
Product design is a growing industry that used to include only speciality roles for UX or UI designers. But nowadays, other product design roles like UX researchers, copywriters, and interaction designers are also included in it.
Product Design: History
Initially, product design was entirely driven by human experience and creativity. Technology had a very little part to play in it. But it has been completely revamped through technological advancements. These days we use advanced natural language processing (NLP) and knowledge graph-driven techniques to get customer feedback and their significant inputs that are highly relevant for the design process. It has higher accuracy, and speed as compared to the traditional methods for product designing.
Role of Technology in Product Designing
Currently, most of the products are getting manufactured by automation which brings receiving and sending sensor signals to the forefront.
Technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality (VR) help designers visualize physical products at a much earlier stage of the design process.
Not only this, but various simulation and analysis platforms facilitate them to evaluate potential designs seamlessly.
Designers are able to generate new ideas through deep neural networks which eventually contributes to a bright future of product design
The use of technology can be extended to various industries. For instance, AI-driven generative design can be used to create highly customized products or parts for individual customers, which comes with guaranteed compliance for key design requirements.
Let’s talk about the auto industry here. Buyers in this modern landscape demand customized vehicles as per their preferences. But it’s not an easy task to consider those custom options while meeting all the safety standards and without affecting the promised performance for the vehicle. The company can certainly produce a great set of custom wheels that are visually striking. But in case it overlooks the safety standards while doing so, it cannot put the product out there in the market since it’s not safe.
AI can be the solution to such problems. The generative product design powered by AI helps designers automatically create parts optimized for weight and strength. It can also help them explore a design space rapidly while meeting all the constraints of manufacturing.
IIoT and 3D Printing in Product Design
The new economy is inhabited by enterprises having a digital DNA and the onset of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is changing the world with binary bits and physical atoms merging to alter the manufacturing landscape while paving the way for a ‘maker movement.’ Three-dimensional printing is at the core of this movement, which is transforming manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, and hardware. The technology has great potential to upend industries and change lives as it’s creating new paradigms in manufacturing.
It can change the character of the manufacturing landscape in the following ways:
Since facilitating production, powered by 3D printing, as close as possible to the place of consumption makes more sense, distribution centres may become obsolete.
3D printing avoids huge capital investments by lowering the entry-level barrier in manufacturing. It can lead to the emergence of a new breed of manufacturing enterprises, creating a new genre of companies like Amazon.
It will make the process of manufacturing more agile as a single 3D printer can manufacture a diverse range of products be it an aircraft part or an automotive component.
The technology will help manufacturers achieve a high level of customization for each product and it’ll make the concept of ’engineer to order’ mainstream in manufacturing.
Technology is pushing its boundaries to enable the future of design. It not only brings immersive experiences, intelligent tools, customer insights, increased accuracy, and speed to the process of product designing, but it also makes low-cost manufacturing feasible along with a high level of automation. There is a lot of scope for improvement in product design, and technology is playing its part in it by simplifying the process and making it more agile while bringing the ease of customization.