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.

"Products based on disruptive technologies are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and,  frequently more convenient to use"  quote by  Clayton M. Christensen, from The Innovator's  Dilemma-When New Technologies Cause Great  Firms to Fail. 

Read the article: The Fundamental Shift in the Product Design 
Paradigm for more extensive information on the purpose of the 
paragraphs below.
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.  

photo:  Explorer Satellite  and Fathers of American Rocketry.

The changes are being driven by three things:  
1. Economic pressures on design and development 
resources. 
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 
design fields.
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 design result.

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 
design solutions:
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.

4. Distribution of concepts to marketing, management and engineering 
via SolidWorks distribution tools such as E-Drawings, Viewer, Animator, 
PhotoWorks, 3D TeamWorks and 3D Instant Website extends the 
power of SolidWorks to the web, executive distribution, sales 
presentations 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 
software programs.  
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