Making the Case for Exceptional Product Design

Exceptional Product Designby Michael Paloian, President, Integrated Design Systems

Pardon my soapbox, but in my opinion, good design is vital, but an often-neglected, consideration in many product applications. Here’s why excellence in the design must not be a poor relative in early product planning. Consider this:

All products are born from someone’s imagination to satisfy a particular market need. Sometimes that need is functional, other times it is to lower cost or sometimes it is purely a matter of style. No matter how a product idea is germinated, every product must be designed.

Ultimately, the design will have a major effect on the success of that product. Design affects everything from cost to appearance, function, manufacturing and sales. Good design can make one company a market leader while poor design can sink a company into bankruptcy.

The Measurable Dividends of Excellent Product Design

The plastics industry has benefited from great designs in a wide range of products spanning from furniture to fighter jets. Design excellence has spawned new markets for the plastics industry and has been responsible for its outstanding growth during the past 50 years.

Every plastics process has benefited from creative designs that have opened new market opportunities. This is especially true for injection molding, extrusion and pressure forming.

There have been numerous creative designs within the industry during the past five to eight years. Nevertheless, the application of good-to-excellent design approaches are restricted or sometimes ignored altogether.

Companies often attempt to introduce a new product with minimal design input or limited understanding of the process. The results often require extensive tooling revisions, inferior products, or products that don’t perform as expected.

Good design is often ignored when the process is associated with low-cost tooling,  and companies are reluctant to invest in the added cost of a properly designed product. Unfortunately, this mentality has stymied some industry segments and restricted its full growth potential.

The creative intersection of project development and good design opens an industry segment to an untapped market with high profits and high growth. Good design, like good tooling, requires an investment. But ultimately, good design saves money in production costs, tooling and product introduction. Companies often overlook these critical considerations during their early stages of product planning.

More sophisticated applications require improvements in aesthetics, structural performance and added functionality. These attributes can only be optimized with good design that benefits the user as well as the OEM.

As designs improve and become more sophisticated, technology typically improves and the industry advances. Excellence in design—and its benefits–follow advances in technology and new applications.