As a very simple yet appropriate definition, it can be said that product design and development is basically the process of creating and developing a new product. This includes everything starting from developing new creative ideas as well as processes for new products.
Since it has the word “development”, it can also include the process of enhancing the performance and design of existing products. Product design and development also generally include the production and packaging process of final products.
That being said, a lot of you may not have heard about product design and development in mechanical engineering. There are a lot of commonly used products around us and we use these devices almost on a daily basis. Such products may include electronic devices like smartphones, something as simple as a hairdryer, or something as advanced as an electric vehicle.
It is not unnatural that a lot of us may not associate product design and development with mechanical engineering. Although, there are a lot of mechanical engineers working in the field of product design and development across various industries.
A lot of product designers who are mechanical engineers may also be known as product engineers. This was discussed by Professor Lau, the International Vice President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, in his lecture “Product Design – from Conceptual Ideas to a Marketable Product”.
That being said, mechanical engineering and product design and development are integrally related. A lot of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the world have employed product designers who are able to design mechanical systems that drive the function of a product.
The Job Of Product Design Engineers
A lot of enterprises are investing in new technologies that enhance the efficiency of a specific product, its manufacturing processes as well as the diversity of the various types of products offered by them. This is where product design and development play a role in association with mechanical engineering.
A product design engineer studies, designs, and develops the products that we use on a daily basis. Mechanical engineers work in a variety of organizations where products are created.
Mechanical products are all around us. A mechanical device is anything that has moving parts that work through the consumption of energy from a source like electricity. That being said, there are a variety of products designed and developed through mechanical engineering.
Such products include things like: engines and engine parts, control systems, sensors, gas turbines, prosthetic devices, printers, semiconductor tools, wind turbines, fuel cells, compressors, disk drives, robots, and mechanical tools.
The primary job of a product design engineer is to design and develop products that the consumers of a business want to use. Even when it comes to mechanical products, product design and development is a crucial part of the process. There are five steps or key parts of product design and development in mechanical product manufacturing. They are:
- Concept: This determines the feasibility of the product concept.
- Design: This includes everything from engineering design to FEA and production drawings.
- Prototyping: Includes processes like 3D printing and rapid manufacturing.
- Manufacturing: This is when the product is ready for mass manufacturing.
- Delivery: Marketing, shipping, and delivery to consumers of the product.
All that being said, it is evident that product design and development as well as mechanical engineering are not isolated from each other but are integrally associated with each other in a majority of product manufacturing processes for all kinds of businesses in a variety of industries.