22 Mar 4 Key Phases of Product Design
In this article, I would like to show you the four phases that are undertaken in a product design project. Designing and developing a new product or packaging is always a journey and having a clear idea of what to expect from it is important for anyone who wants to bring their idea to market. I divide such projects into 4 key stages when working with my clients. Each stage generates its own result. Note: The inventors/companies/startups bring the product idea, so the following stages relate to its development.
1. Conceptualisation phase
This is the first key part of the process. When a client approaches us with an idea, usually, they have some form of background research they conducted, already know the market, their potential competitors, their vision about the product roughly defined. In this stage, we get to know everything about their idea and expand on the knowledge gathered, and use that information to create a design concept, a sketch that will communicate what the product will do, how it will do it and what it’s going to look like.
2. Design phase
In this phase, we build on the knowledge and drawings we generated in the previous stage and begin developing the concept using 3D modelling software. We will usually define the colour, form, materials, dimensions, basically all the necessary visual and functional properties of the product in this phase. We will make a 3D model that will be the closest to the final product as possible. We will take into consideration assembly/disassembly, sustainability and potential end manufacturing process if required. Once, we have a finished CAD model, we can move on to the validation and prototyping phase.
3. Prototyping phase
Here is when we take a very important leap in turning an idea, a model and a dream into a physical and tangible invention. It’s a very exciting process. Seeing it go from the previous phases to something that stands, inspires and functions is amazing for all parties involved. The prototype development has its own unique process and consists of multiple iterations. We also use various prototyping technology involving 3D printing, CNC machining, vacuum casting or simple paper prototyping. Overall, this phase gives us valuable feedback and validates the knowledge we had generated in the previous stages. Sometimes, the prototype shows us new information that requires us to go back to the previous stages to make certain improvements or changes. Once we have a prototype that meets all requirements, we move into the handover phase.
4. Handover phase
In the final stage of our product design, we generate project documentation including 2D drawings and source files of the final models that will enable your manufacturer to produce the parts and understand the assembly. Sometimes there will be feedback from the manufacturer about some aspects of the design, which might require making some changes. Once this process is finished, we hand it over and then it’s in the hands of the manufacturer to produce it according to our drawings and supply you with the final assembly.
So, here we have it. This is, more or less, the process of developing the product’s design. Sometimes, the project requires the industrial designer’s supervision over the manufacturing process or assistance in the post-manufacturing and marketing stage. However, most of the time the work ends with the handover, where the development of the product design is finalised.