Industrial designers tend to think outside the box—literally.
An industrial designer is a professional product designer who designs and develops products we use every day, such as phones, vehicles, appliances, and toys. They bring new ideas to life by creating concepts and turning them into tangible objects.
This article will give you an overview of what industrial designers do and the skills they need to succeed in this field.
Table of Contents
What is industrial design?
Industrial design is a process of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value, and appearance of products and systems for the benefit of both users and manufacturers.
The role of an industrial designer is to take a product or system and improve it in terms of its function, value, and/or appearance. This can be done through changes to the form, materials, colour, texture, ergonomics, user interfaces, packaging, etc.
Industrial designers work in a variety of industries including furniture, consumer electronics, transportation, medical devices, kitchen appliances, and power tools. In order to be successful in this field, one must have a strong understanding of design principles as well as engineering and manufacturing processes.
Additionally, industrial designers must be able to effectively communicate their ideas to clients and colleagues alike.
What is an industrial designer and what do they do on a day-to-day basis?
An industrial designer is a professional who designs products that are manufactured commercially. Industrial designers work in a variety of industries, including the automotive, aerospace, and consumer electronics industries.
In the automotive industry, industrial designers may work on the design of car interiors or exteriors. In the aerospace industry, they may work on the design of aircraft cabin interiors or the exteriors of commercial jets.
And in the consumer electronics industry, they may work on the design of portable electronic devices such as cell phones or digital cameras.
Industrial designers use a variety of skills to create their designs.
They must have a strong understanding of engineering and manufacturing principles in order to create products that can be manufactured efficiently and cost-effectively.
They also need to be able to use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create three-dimensional (3D) models of their designs.
In addition, industrial designers need to have good communication skills in order to effectively collaborate with engineers and other team members during the product development process.
What do industrial designers do?
Industrial designers work in a variety of industries, including furniture, automobiles, appliances, and toys.
They are responsible for creating products that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. In order to do this, industrial designers must have a strong understanding of materials, manufacturing processes, and human factors.
They must also be able to use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create detailed product designs. Industrial designers typically have a bachelor’s degree in industrial design or a related field.
Many industrial designers also complete internships or co-ops in order to gain experience in the field.
The different responsibilities of an industrial designer:
To create products that meet the needs of their clients and are stylish and easy to use, industrial designers must engage in a variety of research activities. They may consult with users to understand their needs, examine trends in design to identify styling cues that will appeal to consumers, and research manufacturing processes to ensure that the product can be produced efficiently and effectively. By undertaking this research, industrial designers are able to create products that meet the aesthetic, functional, and economic needs of their clients.
Industrial designers must be able to sketch their ideas quickly and clearly. This is important for communicating ideas to clients and colleagues, as well as being able to develop concepts further. There are various methods that can help the industrial designer improve their sketching ability. One is to practice regularly, which will help to build up speed and confidence. Another is to use Reference Images, which can provide inspiration and help with proportions and perspective. Finally, it can be helpful to take a Sketching Course, which will cover the basics and provide more advanced techniques. With some effort and practice, anyone can improve their sketching ability and become a better industrial designer.
3D modelling (or three-dimensional modelling) is the process of creating a three-dimensional representation of any object. A 3D model can be anything from simple shapes to a more complex design. 3D modelling software is used to create the models, which can be either static or animated. Static models are typically used for product visualization, while animated models are often used for simulations and video games. 3D modelling is an important skill for industrial designers, as it allows them to create accurate representations of their designs. This is important for visualising the final product and for testing its ergonomics. Additionally, 3D models can be used for marketing purposes, such as creating virtual reality experiences or Augmented Reality applications.
Prototyping is a stage in the product development process in which a sample or mock-up of a proposed product is created. The purpose of prototyping is to allow designers and engineers to test the feasibility of a design and to evaluate its user experience. Prototypes can be created using various methods, such as 3D printing, CNC machining, and injection moulding. 3D printing is a relatively new technology that allows for the rapid creation of three-dimensional objects from a digital file. CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process in which parts are machined from a block of material using computer-controlled cutting tools. Injection moulding is a mass-production process in which parts fr mass-produced products are moulded from plastic or metal using high-pressure injection machines. Prototyping is an important part of the product development process as it allows for the testing of designs before they are committed to mass production.
User trials and focus groups are important tools that industrial designers can use to test their designs. By testing the design with potential users, the designer can get feedback on whether the design meets the needs of the user and if it is fit for purpose. This feedback is essential for making sure that the final design is fit for its intended purpose and that it will be easy for users to use. without these tests, it would be very difficult to ensure that a design is successful.
When industrial designers need to present their designs, they use various methods depending on the situation and type of audience. For example, when showing a design to a potential client, the industrial designer might use a three-dimensional (3D) model, drawings, or photographs. With clients, the industrial designer often strives to present the design in the clearest and most concise manner possible in order to sell the design. To get feedback on a design from colleagues, an industrial designer might use sketches or computer-aided design (CAD) drawings. In some cases, an industrial designer might create a prototype of the design in order to show how it works or looks in 3D. Industrial designers also use simulations and tests to evaluate how effective a design is before presenting it to clients or colleagues. This helps to ensure that the presentation is as polished as possible.
An industrial designer must be able to write reports, proposals, and specifications for their designs. This is important for documenting the design process and for communicating with manufacturers. Manufacturers use these documents to produce the products designed by the industrial designer. Good communication skills are essential for industrial designers, as they must often explain their designs to clients, engineers, and marketing personnel. Industrial designers must also have an understanding of production methods, materials, and assembly processes. They need to be familiar with computer-aided design (CAD) software and other tools used in product design. In addition, they should have a good understanding of ergonomics and human factors principles.
Industrial designers typically work on multiple projects at once, often with tight deadlines. As a result, they must be able to effectively manage their time and resources. One of the most important aspects of project management is setting realistic timelines and ensuring that deadlines are met. This requires coordination with other team members, as well as a clear understanding of the workflow. Another crucial element of project management is communication. Industrial designers must be able to communicate their vision for the project to their team, and they also need to be able to receive feedback and input from others. By maintaining an effective communication network, industrial designers can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the project runs smoothly from start to finish.
What are the education requirements for becoming an industrial designer?
Industrial designers’ work encompasses the entire process of designing, from initial concept development to the final styling of the product. They work closely with engineers and other members of the product development team to ensure that the product meets all functional requirements and is within the budget and timeframe constraints.
They must be able to use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create prototypes and models of their designs. They must also be able to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively to clients and other members of the design team. Industrial designers must have strong problem-solving skills and be able to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to problems.
Most industrial designers have at least a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, engineering, or a related field. Many also have a master’s degree in industrial design or a related field.
Industrial design education programs typically include courses in sketching, 3D modelling, CAD, prototyping, human factors, ergonomics, materials science, manufacturing processes, and project management. Many programs also include an internship or co-op component in order to give students the opportunity to gain experience in the field
What are the skills required for becoming an industrial designer?
Industrial designers use their skills in creativity and problem-solving to develop new products for manufacturers. They work closely with clients and other members of the product development team to ensure that the products they design are functional, safe, and user-friendly. In order to be successful in this field, industrial designers must have strong CAD skills and be able to communicate effectively with their clients and teammates. They must also be able to work well in team settings and handle multiple projects simultaneously. With these skills, industrial designers can create products that meet the needs of their clients and make a lasting impact on the world around them.
What are some common challenges faced by industrial designers?
The industrial design process is a complex one that requires a great deal of coordination between the industrial designer, the client, and the manufacturing team. Some typical challenges faced are as follows:
Ensuring products are safe
One of the most important challenges faced by industrial designers is ensuring that the products they design are safe. This includes making sure that products do not pose a risk of injury to users, as well as ensuring that they comply with any relevant safety regulations.
Creating products that are easy to use
Another common challenge faced by industrial designers is creating products that are easy to use. This means taking into account the needs of users and designing products that are intuitive and user-friendly.
Designing for mass production
When designing products for mass production, industrial designers must take into account the manufacturing process and ensure that their designs can be easily and efficiently manufactured. This can often be a challenge, as it requires a good understanding of both design and manufacturing processes.
Creating innovative designs
Another common challenge faced by industrial designers is coming up with innovative and new designs. This means thinking outside the box and coming up with original ideas that will appeal to users.
Managing project timelines
Project management is another common challenge faced by industrial designers. This includes ensuring that projects stay on track and meet deadlines, as well as coordinating with other team members such as engineers and manufacturers.
What are some common career paths for industrial designers?
Product design is the process of designing and creating products that are safe, functional, appealing, and meet the needs of both the users and the manufacturers. Industrial designers who work in product design create plans and specifications for manufactured products. They work closely with engineers and manufacturers to ensure that products meet the required specifications and are able to be produced efficiently.
To create a successful product, designers must have a thorough understanding of materials, production methods, marketing, and ergonomics.
Transportation design is the process of designing the appearance, and to some extent the ergonomics, of vehicles such as automobiles, aircraft, motorcycles, and boats. The functional design and development of a vehicle involve similar techniques to those for other types of products and devices.
However, because of the unique requirements imposed by the environments in which vehicles operate, extra emphasis is placed on factors such as wind resistance and cabin comfort levels. In addition, transportation designers must also consider the effects of vehicle weight and size on fuel economy and performance.
As a result, transportation design is a highly specialized field that requires a deep understanding of both engineering and aesthetics.
Furniture design is a specialized area of industrial design that focuses on the design of furniture products. Furniture designers work closely with furniture manufacturers to create furniture that can be produced efficiently and meets required safety and quality standards. Furniture design also takes into account the ergonomics of the furniture, as well as the aesthetics.
The goal of furniture design is to create products that are both functional and attractive.
Medical Device Design
Medical device design is the process of creating plans and specifications for medical devices such as prosthetics, implants, and diagnostic equipment. Industrial designers who specialize in medical device design work closely with medical professionals to ensure that devices are safe and effective for patients.
The process of medical device design involves the creation of functional prototypes, testing of prototypes, and the refinement of designs based on feedback from medical professionals and patients. In recent years, advances in computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing have made it possible to create more realistic prototypes and accelerate the design process.
As a result, medical device designers are able to bring new products to market faster than ever before.
When it comes to design, industrial designers often have to consider ergonomics. This is the study of how people interact with products and how those products can be designed to optimize human performance.
Ergonomics is important in a variety of industries, from healthcare to manufacturing, and it plays a role in everything from the instruments used in surgery to the chairs in an office. Industrial designers who specialize in ergonomics work closely with engineers and manufacturers to ensure that products are comfortable and safe to use.
In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on ergonomics in the design of consumer products, as manufacturers seek to create products that are not only functionally but also aesthetically pleasing.
As our lives become increasingly reliant on technology, it is likely that ergonomics will continue to play an important role in design.
How to become an industrial designer
1. Get a degree in industrial design
The first step to becoming an industrial designer is to get a degree in industrial design from an accredited university or college. Industrial design programs typically last four years and include coursework in areas such as sketching, engineering, and computer-aided design (CAD).
2. Complete an internship
While completing your degree, it is also a good idea to complete an internship with a company that specializes in industrial design. Internships provide valuable real-world experience and can often lead to full-time employment after graduation.
3. Join a professional organization
Once you have graduated from college and have begun working as an industrial designer, it is important to join a professional organization such as the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). Membership in professional organizations provides many benefits, including access to job postings, networking opportunities, and continuing education resources.
4. Stay up to date with technology
As an industrial designer, it is important to stay up to date with the latest technology and trends. This can be done by attending conferences and trade shows, reading industry publications, and taking advantage of online resources.
5. Be creative
One of the most important qualities of a successful industrial designer is creativity. Industrial designers must be able to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems. They must also be able to think outside the box and look at things from different perspectives.
The unexpected benefits of being an industrial designer
1. A Creative Outlet
One of the benefits of being an industrial designer is that it provides a creative outlet. Industrial designers are responsible for creating the products that we use on a daily basis, from toothbrushes to cars. This means that they have a lot of freedom when it comes to design, and they can really let their creativity shine.
2. The Opportunity to Help People
Another benefit of being an industrial designer is that it provides the opportunity to help people. Industrial designers create products that are meant to make our lives easier, and in some cases, they can even improve our health and safety. For example, an industrial designer may create a new type of car seat that is more comfortable and safer than the current models on the market.
3. The Chance to Be Innovative
In addition to providing a creative outlet, being an industrial designer also gives you the chance to be innovative. You will have the opportunity to come up with new ideas for products, and if your designs are successful, you could see your products being used by people all over the world.
4. A Rewarding Career
Industrial design is a highly rewarding career, both financially and emotionally. Industrial designers typically earn a good salary, and they also have the satisfaction of knowing that their work is making a difference in people’s lives.
5. An Exciting Field
Another benefit of being an industrial designer is that it is an exciting field. There is always something new to learn, and you will never get bored with your work. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to travel and see new places as you work with clients from all over the world
How do industrial designers get experience?
1. Get a degree in industrial design
One of the best ways to get experience as an industrial designer is to get a degree in industrial design from an accredited university. Industrial design programs typically last four years and cover a variety of topics, including engineering, art, and business. After completing a degree in industrial design, you will be able to work as an industrial designer in a variety of industries.
2. Complete an internship
Another way to get experience as an industrial designer is to complete an internship with a company that offers industrial design services. Internships typically last between six and twelve weeks and provide you with the opportunity to learn about the industry and gain hands-on experience. Many companies offer internships on a paid or unpaid basis, so be sure to research your options before applying.
3. Join a professional organization
Joining a professional organization such as the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is another great way to get experience as an industrial designer. IDSA membership provides access to resources, networking opportunities, and educational programs that can help you advance in your career. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire candidates who are members of professional organizations.
4. Attend events and trade shows
Attending events and trade shows related to industrial design is another excellent way to get experience. These events provide you with the opportunity to meet other designers and learn about new trends and technologies in the industry. Many trade shows also offer workshops and seminars that can help you improve your skills as an industrial designer.
5. Get certified
Getting certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) is another great way to get experience as an industrial designer. NCIDQ certification is the industry-standard credential for interior designers and demonstrates your knowledge of the profession. To become certified, you must pass an exam that covers topics such as building codes, materials, furniture selection, and space planning.