Types of Product design

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Engineering product design is done for various purposes and in various ways resulting in different product design types.

Exploded view of head phone
Exploded view of headphones (Source: Sony)

Engineering products are designed for various purposes, resulting in different product design types. Therefore, the product design could have a wide degree of uniqueness, ranging from an original idea like the wheel invention to constantly redesigning vehicles and phones.

The majority of product design activities are changes and variations on existing designs. However, changing an existing design doesn’t mean that the product design journey is less challenging for the company or the engineering designers.

From a product planning and development point of view, a company would have to consider the product design type they are venturing into to calculate the cost and resources they would need for their new product development.

Let us look into the four major product design types;

Original product design

The original design method or form is at the top of the spectrum. It satisfies a demand by utilising an original, inventive idea. Sometimes, but very rarely, the need itself is unique. Therefore, unique design requires inventiveness. Successful unique ideas are uncommon, but when they do emerge, they typically disrupt established markets because they include the seeds of new technology with far-reaching implications. One such innovative invention was the world’s first microprocessor, Intel 4004.

Original design
Original design – world’s first microprocessor (Source: Intel)

There are two different cases of the original design;

  • An innovative, original design driven by the latest scientific discoveries and technological advancements.
  • An original product that combines existing solutions in a different embodiment offers novel functions and qualities.

Adaptive product design

This type of design happens when the design team modifies a well-known solution to meet a new requirement, resulting in a novel application. For example, the latest metal 3D printing technology BMD combines material extrusion and metal injection moulding to create three-dimensional metal parts.

The core solution idea stays the same, but the concept’s embodiment is modified to meet and solve new challenges and criteria.

This Adaptive design shouldn’t be confused with web and graphical user interfaces adaptive design, which means that it adapts to different screen sizes, similar to responsive design.

Variant or Redesign

Engineering design is far more typically used to improve an existing design. For example, the objective might be to redesign a component in a product that fails in service or lower its manufacturing cost. Often, the redesign has no changes to the original design’s functioning principle or concept. For example, the form might be altered to lessen stress concentrations, or a different material could be replaced to save weight or cost.

iPhone redesign
iPhone evolution (Source:iphonelife.com)

When the redesign is accomplished by modifying some of the design parameters, it is commonly referred to as variant design.

The sizes and configurations of parts and assemblies vary within the constraints imposed by previously specified product structures, as is characteristic of size ranges and modular goods.

Selection product design

Most designs use conventional components generally referred to as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), such as bearings, small stepper motors, and sensors such as mems microphones and accelerometers available from manufacturers and suppliers. As a result, the design work specifies suitable components that meet this scenario’s required performance, quality, and cost. Automation machines such as pick and place fall into this category.

Selection design - Integrated-Robotic-Automation-Solution
Selection design – Integrated-Robotic-Automation-Solution (Source: Omron)