Companies that outsource their product development programs as part of their R&D strategy are often faced with a choice between the type of partner with whom to work. That leads to one of two options; hire an industrial design firm or a work with a contract manufacturer. Experience has found that neither choice is optimal.
In the first of this 3 blog series, will look at industrial design firms.
Who are the Industrial Design Firms?
As defined by the Industrial Designers Society of America (ISDA), industrial design is, “The professional service of creating products and systems that optimize function, value and appearance for the mutual benefit of user and manufacturer.”
An engagement with an industrial design firm involves the preparation of product recommendations based on customer input. An industrial design firm’s deliverables generally include initial sketches of an idea that go through various iterations as they develop from idea to prototype. The ISDA highlights nearly 30 steps that a design can take during this process.
Industrial designers are highly mechanically orientated with expertise in designing products for human factors and ensuring the product has the right look and feel in the market place. An industrial design will confirm that a product, for example is the right height or size based on the demographic of the intended end user of the product. Industrial designs consider form factors to ensure aesthetics as well as usability of the product. Industrial designers have strong creative teams that can offer many options to their customers leveraging customer input, industry input and other themes.
Consider the father of industrial design, Raymond Loewy. Without his creativity, many iconic products, such as the classic Coca-Cola bottle, the Greyhound Bus, and the blue and white livery for Air Force One may look much different today. There is no question that design is important.
Industrial Design and Product Development
However, industrial designers struggle in taking concepts and transforming them into products that are robust and manufacturable. Much like an architect, industrial designers may not consider practical aspects such as the cost of features or the ability to manufacture at an acceptable cost.
It would not be unusual in a meeting with an industrial design firm to hear a pragmatic member of the client team say, “Great, I have a pretty picture NOW WHAT?”
This is the question that companies struggle with when working with industrial design firms alone. As part of the product development process, the design must be tested against the real world. How much will it cost to make, can it be manufactured at the appropriate levels for the appropriate costs?
More and more companies are looking to product development services companies to work with the industrial design team to come up with a manufacturing-ready prototype. Product development services companies, such as Resolution, can offer a real-world perspective to ensure cost and development targets are met. This can be particularly important in with highly regulated and complex medical device product development.
In our next segment, we will discuss Contract Manufacturing.
To learn more about the role of product development services to your outsourced R&D strategy, visit Resolution Development Services.