By: Jeff Condon, Engineering Manager, Beyond Design, Inc.
Engineering has been a staple of our design process since Beyond burst onto the design community nearly 25 years ago. As one of our 4 core competencies (holding rank with Industrial Design, User Experience, and Research & Strategy) we know the importance of well engineered products and solutions. Our team excels at new challenges and creating solutions using the most current technology. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of fostering a robust engineering team and how to harness these skills and apply them to each project.
WHY ENGINEERING MATTERS
Navigating the engineering process can often be a rushed or an outsourced part of product development. It is important, however, to treat this phase of a project with as much regard as the design phase. A successful engineering project starts with conceptual development wherein the parameters and requirements of the design are broken down to gain a better understanding of the project’s direction. Brainstorming helps to flesh out ideas and strategies which help inform the initial CAD layout. From there, proof of concept models are generated and go through several rounds of refinement. When the team feels comfortable with the changes, we proceed with in depth CAD development where the engineering and design teams collaborate to build detailed models.
As the models progress, care needs to be taken to ensure all parts are manufacturable and clearances are appropriate for the manufacturing process. Interim prototype models and analysis tools (like FEA and CFD) are used to continually evaluate the design and assembly strategy ensuring repeatable results. Design reviews, both internal and with the client and their manufacturing partners, are used to make sure all stakeholders are aligned. At the end of the day, the goal is to have a model ready for production that is capable of functional and successful results.
Prototypes are extremely helpful, and not just from the industrial design aspect of a project. Prototyping is an integral part of the engineering process and helps refine the design. At Beyond, we have found that using our in-house Stratasys printer has increased our productivity which, ultimately, benefits our clients. We also manage prototypes that require CNC cutting in specific materials, vacuum forming, plaster metal casting, urethane casting, and prototype tooling.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
It is paramount for all parties to communicate during the engineering stage of a project. All stakeholders need to be aligned in order to produce the best results. Design reviews allow the team to discuss with the client and manufacturers the intent and strategy behind the design. This elicits constructive feedback that optimizes the design for the highest manufacturability. After design completion, prints are developed to further communicate design intent to the manufacturers and provide a document for quality control to ensure repeatable production.
CONTINUING TO GROW
As we continue to evolve and develop our own engineering program, we learn more about ourselves as designers and engineers and produce practical and measurable solutions. We are still finding new and creative ways to solve problems and connect with our clients and the end-user nearly 25 years later. For more information on our engineering capabilities and our design process, please leave us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.