Wisdom on product design in the 21st Century
from a paradigm shifter
Copyright, 2003, Michael Davis and Headstuf Product Development.
The 21st Century will be the century where disruptive technology
changes everything we ever knew or believed. How we manage
that change is the question for the future and the history for
our children to know.
It was more than 100 years ago that the Wright Brothers
developed the Wright Flyer which not only changed history
forever, but the event defined the design process for the
next 100 years. The Wright Brothers did for design what
Henry Ford did for manufacturing.
NOW there is a new breeze on the horizon:
Read about disruptive technology changing the way
products are designed.
based on disruptive technologies
are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and,
frequently more convenient to use" quote by
Clayton M. Christensen, from The
Dilemma-When New Technologies Cause Great
Firms to Fail.
Industrial design and engineering are going through a significant
period of upheaval for this first decade of the 21st Century.
Disruptive technologies are changing the face of everything
from national borders to the nature of the corporation to the
process of design and development. In the realm of product
design and development, SolidWorks and other similar products
are disruptive technology tools driving the tiny envelope of
product developers, engineers and designers to work in an
ever-integrated cohesive way.
While at the same time, these tools are opening up opportunities
for design and development to millions of inventors,
entrepreneurs, and yes, high school students.
Another change is that after 84 years, the vision of the
Bauhaus School of Design is about to be realized, thanks
to the expansive capabilities of the new disruptive technology
tools for design and engineering like SolidWorks. At last, one
person can now create all aspects of a design using one tool
and the idea of the Master Designer or what I like to call
the Completed Designer is taking shape across the world.
and Fathers of American Rocketry.
The changes are being driven by three things:
1. Economic pressures on design and development
2. New software tools that seamlessly integrate the
design process from cradle to grave.
3. Disruptive technology driving a paradigm shift
of massive proportions in the engineering and
The effect of the disruption will be the massive shift of
concentration of engineering influence on a worldwide basis
from a multiple design platform process to a unified platform
design process. In many ways this disruptive technology is
like the period of the 70's where Japanese automotive dominance
nearly destroyed the American automotive industry because one
nation, Japan embraced a better way to design cars i.e.,
Taguchi engineering, QFD, TQM and Just-In-Time manufacturing
techniques; while American manufacturers did not.
The exception is that in the current climate
of the design process model, the disruptive paradigm shift affects all levels of manufacturing, not just automobiles, and it
is inexpensively available to the world, not just Japan. It will most likely be the same scenario as the world tends to
embrace the singular process of design while American manufacturers tend to separate industrial design
and engineering. Both work, but the prior is more efficient, economical and delivers a much more cohesive
While American management is slow to embrace the newer
capabilities of a unified design process, most companies
are still maintaining the old traditional lines of separation
of designer, engineer and manufacturer. All are using different
design platforms. Industrial design for example, is tenaciously
holding on to its design standard Alias CAID tools while the
engineering professions are maintaining the use of Pro-Engineer.
The two packages work to feed each other, but neither can be
used for both engineering and industrial design while SolidWorks
and a few other innovative software solutions can. The future
will belong to the innovator and to the companies that embrace
it using these new tools.
Of final, but probably the most significant note, is that
the idea of paperless design is eliminating the draftsman
class of employee. Control of specification is now in the
model and not the document therefore the document can be
simplified and act as a summary reference instead of a controlling
document. In like manner, control of the model goes to the engineer
or designer, removing the need for checkers, draftsmen, and other
various engineering support personnel.
What has happened is that since most components are produced
directly from exported CNC, SLA, IGES, SAT, etc. data streams,
documentation that used to be required is now highly simplified
because the control of the manufactured object has shifted from
paper to data set. Where complete detailed specifications used
to be the mainstay of engineering design and drafting, a vendor
no longer needs that much information--in fact it just adds
unnecessary manufacturing cost. Therefore with the data stream
plus a simple 2d representation with a few dimensions to verify
sizing, parts can be produced more quickly and efficiently.
Here is a summary list of how SolidWorks advantages the
process to work in a more powerful way, delivering finely tuned
1. SolidWorks is a key tool for marketing and strategic product
definition as well as product design and engineering package.
2. PhotoWorks and Animator are two essential add-ins extending
the power of the software to industrial design, marketing and sales.
3. Industrial Design, Engineering, and Manufacturing can now
collaborate using the same design tool.
Distribution of concepts to marketing, management and engineering
via SolidWorks distribution tools such as E-Drawings, Viewer,
PhotoWorks, 3D TeamWorks and 3D Instant Website extends the
SolidWorks to the web, executive distribution, sales
and vendor management.
5. SolidWorks is a complete design tool, permitting cradle to grave
design management using one basic tool. It is no longer necessary
to purchase multiple base design products. SolidWorks with inexpensive
add-in modules permits a more economical design methodology.
6. Execution of the design models using SolidWorks for production
tooling is a powerful capability of SolidWorks.
7. ID Basics are a requirement for all designers, engineers and marketers
who can now participate in the design process like never before using
SolidWorks design and collaboration tools. This means that a designer
can accompany a product manager on a sales call to do on the fly design
modification for customers while often, production level files can be
released for fabrication within hours of an order.
8. For companies desiring to continue using legacy data sets or existing
pre-21st Century software development tools like Pro-Engineer and Alias,
SolidWorks has an extensive set of import/export filters for most competitive
9. Exported data streams to create tooling and parts have eliminated the
need for fully finished complex 2D fully drafted specification. SolidWorks
Edrawings for example can give the tooling, rapid prototype or CNC vendor
the option to pick and measure 3D models as needed instead of relying on
constantly updated and revised pieces of paper.
A designer can offer a more simplified specification set with a few key
dimensions instead complete documentation to achieve the same result
in 1/4 the time.
Copyrightę 1996-2001 Michael Davis and Headstuf Product Development