I am an industrial designer. That means I design for industry. I design using industry. I create solutions using the limitations and possibilities provided by manufacturing processes.
Make your Product Idea Happen:
Step 1 –
Describe the problem you are solving
If an artist calls themselves a painter, what do they do? A painter looks at something – an object or an idea and they express their interpretation of it using paint. Sometimes it looks real like a photograph, sometimes it is just color. We know what a painter does.
A few less of us understand what a designer does. A designer is given a project or a problem and they need to resolve it using their medium. Maybe that medium is imagery, maybe it is fabric or furniture, maybe it is plastic. The goal is to use the designer’s medium to reach the clients end goal.
As an industrial designer, my title puts me in a place where I am designing for my client’s end goals using the medium of manufacturing. Manufacturing is HUGE! It could be glass or fabric or plastic or wood. It could be hand assembled or machined. The project might be smart or simple, aimed at adults in Asia or children in North America.
The process of understanding problems is what Industrial Design is all about.
What problem are you trying to solve? Do you have firsthand experience with the problem or did you see an opportunity you wanted to take advantage of? What other solutions already exist to solve this problem? What materials have been used? What solutions are consumers accustomed to for similar problems? Are they looking for something new and innovative or would comfortable and familiar be a better solution? How can I help you to understand the problem?
Understanding is the start. At this point, Industrial Design moves on to resolution. Every resolution creates new and often unforeseen problems. Therefore, innovation is always happening and always necessary. It is about choosing the right path to innovate that separates the good from the best. The best path is often made apparent through understanding.
Industrial Design is understanding.
Did you want to start manufacturing domestically? Why do so many companies manufacture overseas? Is it just to save money?
It is hard to understand both domestic and overseas manufacturing. Rules, regulations and capabilities can vary drastically depending on where your factory is located.
Large run, machine driven manufacturing can be less expensive and more easily controlled using U.S. manufacturers. You can sit back and let a reliable, domestic manufacturer walk you through the whole process. Tooling up and churning out your product at the touch of a few buttons (and the help of some very large machines) may be the right choice for you! Startup costs can be high as the quantities to make these runs require a heavy commitment.
Not ready for the heavy burden? If you are looking to start small I know how to get your domestic tooling started for as little as $5,000 per part. This tooling is not long lasting but if you are not ready to commit, this could be a way to test your product in small markets.
Maybe your idea requires hand assembly. You might have to look overseas. Unless you are crafting it yourself, overseas manufacturing will most likely better serve you. Detailed and hand assembled products are almost exclusively manufactured outside of the U.S. In 2009, the ninth most common type of workplace injuries were repetitive motion or repetitive stress injuries. Repetitive stress complications resulted in losses of $1.97 billion, per the Liberty Mutual 2011 Workplace Safety Index. It is hard to keep U.S. manufacturers interested in working on such high-risk projects. Overseas manufacturers do not face the same restrictions.
Many products with multiple parts and pieces are manufactured in multiple countries. Part A is made in the United States. Part B is manufactured in Mexico. Then Part C is molded and painted in China. All the parts are finally brought together and packaged before shipping worldwide to distributors.