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A Grey Beard
10/09/08 03:03 PM
The Differences Between Industrial Design And Design Engineering new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

The Differences Between Industrial Design And Design Engineering

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A Grey Beard
10/09/08 03:03 PM
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Another review of disciplines from the standpoint of inexperience in the "real world"... It has been my pleasure and pain to work with "Industrial Designers" over thirty years in Silicon Valley and other areas of American industry, and the main problem with your article is that you have bought in to the latest misapplication of design education. In the early 80's, I was brought into "Industrial Design" classes in the industry leading program at San Jose State, as a "Plastics Engineer" working in the electronics industry. My talent was experience in tooling and manufacturing, and the program was newly imbedded in the "Art Department" at San Jose State. I came in to talk to Juniors and Seniors about their "designs" and to bring "reality" into a "sketch, sketch, sketch" environment.
A very few instructors valued my critiques of their student's design efforts, as I pointed out the limitations on using six inch long #6 screws and Velcro to hold product parts together. I talked to the students about the impracticality of designing products that "looked good" but couldn't be made by conventional manufacturing processes. I discussed "draft" in molds, parting lines, and variables caused by ignoring gating requirements. Far too many of those students argued with me that their job was not to know or care what "could be made", but to design for awards and art-inspired grades.
Twenty years later, I see the same mentality being institutionalized, and expected. These days, there are very few of us "manufacturing-experienced" designers left to correct that nonsense, and there exists very few opportunities for the novice designers to learn what can be done, as most manufacturing is now done overseas.
Just last week, I had a meeting with a startup that had a "design house" design their product, select a vendor, and purchase tooling to make the product. Only the money came from the startup, and now they are left owning unknown tooling, poorly processed parts and a selected vendor who does not want their business. CAD, CAID or spread sheets do not make design, and anyone who depends blindly on technology and "disciplines" to stay in business is headed for disaster. Know what you are buying, paying for and getting, not the tool used to get there.

10/09/08 03:03 PM
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Hi Jeff,
Once again you taught me something I was not too sure about. You explained it well and I understood it perfectly. I don't fall into either category but as a teacher of MCAD in the middle schools I now can tell the students I have about those two important but different professions. Thanks.

Mike LaCroix
10/09/08 03:03 PM
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In my career of product design (electronics, mechanical, production tooling and others), I have worked for large companies in the Automotive industry, medium sized companies in consumer products and a few start-ups. But in all of the companies that I have worked for the person who did the Industrial Design was the same person who did the Design Engineering and that is true for many companies. The reason behind this combining of the jobs was simple. By letting the Design Engineer perform the Industrial Design tasks, time and money was saved as it prevented the reviews of products that just couldn't or would be too expensive to manufacture. As a Design Engineer performing the duties of the ID the person will automatically note if a concept or design is not possible or too expensive as the DE already understands the manufacturing techniques that would be needed to manufacture the product and would therefore avoid designs that can't meet manufacturing assembly processes. The second advantage here is that you only have to pay one salary. I have always been a strong supporter of the idea that in order to be a good product designer (ID or DE) you really must have a solid understanding of a wide variety of manufacturing techniques. At Boeing all new "Engineers" must work on the production floor for specified period of time at all (or almost all), jobs on the production floor before they can finally sit at a workstation to design anything. As one of your reviewers stated, that is becoming more and more difficult as most companies are moving production "Off Shore".
My own personal belief is that the disciplines of the Industrial Designer and the Design Engineer should be amalgamated into ONE discipline to be taught at school. The result would be product design engineers that have more to offer than an ID or DE alone.

10/09/08 03:03 PM
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Sorry but I totally disagree with your comments on industrial design as
it is in 2006 worldwide. Perhaps this is and has been the case in the
SA - to do the design engineering then "dress it up" but this will not
give you a fully integrated design process. Most, if not all, major
manufacturers and product development consultancies operate with
engineers and designers in the same team. Only by considering function,
aesthetics, ergonomics and manufacturability can a good product be
developed. Good product development is about teamwork and communication
not them and us.
These days the boundaries do merge. I am a degree qualified mechanical
engineer, but with a masters in industrial design. That was 20 years ago.
More and more graduates are emerging from "joint" courses. This is the
As for software, the one thing that is missing is the ability produce
quality 2D drawings as well, or at the very least drawings from the 3D
model, and high quality outputs to prototyping systems as STL.

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