How do you balance aesthetics with manufacturability in product design?

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J
4

Hi!

Currently, I’m working on a new consumer electronics product, specifically a sleek, modern-looking smart home assistant. This device integrates voice control, home automation, and entertainment features. However, it’s tough trying to find the right balance between aesthetics and manufacturability. Our design team has created a sleek and modern look that our marketing team is excited about. However, our manufacturing engineers are worried about some of the aesthetic features that may increase complexity in production, leading to increased costs and possible delays.

We are specifically grappling with issues around our choices of materials, design intricacy, and finishes types. For example, we’ve used a particular high-gloss finish that looks stunning but is prone to showing fingerprints and has to be handled carefully during assembly. Also, we’ve included several curves and unique shapes, which make some items difficult to produce consistently on our current manufacturing line.

Did anyone ever face these challenges? What did you do when faced with such trade-offs? Between the attractiveness of a visual design and one that is less costly but more basic, what did you opt for? Can somebody give me some advice on how best I can work with both the design and manufacturing teams, to come up with a solution that will satisfy both sides?

Résolu parTechInventorX

Hi Jon L., I’ve definitely encountered similar issues in my projects especially with intricate tooling designs in SolidWorks. Involving our manufacturing team early in the design phase was one way we addressed this challenge. This allowed us to obtain immediate feedback from manufacturing concerning any potential challenges related to snags in a given design at its onset. That saved time, money, and some of the other resources required to finalize an actual product for sale. Regarding your mention of the high-gloss finish, we once switched over to a matte or textured finish, which solved handling problems while maintaining a premium appearance.

For complex shapes, consider breaking down the part into modular designs. Instead of having one difficult piece, you can break it into smaller, simpler parts, making assembly easier at a later stage. This usually simplifies production without largely affecting the looks too much. Also, think about materials when designing for manufacture—sometimes a slight change in material can yield major production benefits and still achieve the desired look.

    • J

      Hi!

      Currently, I’m working on a new consumer electronics product, specifically a sleek, modern-looking smart home assistant. This device integrates voice control, home automation, and entertainment features. However, it’s tough trying to find the right balance between aesthetics and manufacturability. Our design team has created a sleek and modern look that our marketing team is excited about. However, our manufacturing engineers are worried about some of the aesthetic features that may increase complexity in production, leading to increased costs and possible delays.

      We are specifically grappling with issues around our choices of materials, design intricacy, and finishes types. For example, we’ve used a particular high-gloss finish that looks stunning but is prone to showing fingerprints and has to be handled carefully during assembly. Also, we’ve included several curves and unique shapes, which make some items difficult to produce consistently on our current manufacturing line.

      Did anyone ever face these challenges? What did you do when faced with such trade-offs? Between the attractiveness of a visual design and one that is less costly but more basic, what did you opt for? Can somebody give me some advice on how best I can work with both the design and manufacturing teams, to come up with a solution that will satisfy both sides?

      0
    • Hi Jon L., I’ve definitely encountered similar issues in my projects especially with intricate tooling designs in SolidWorks. Involving our manufacturing team early in the design phase was one way we addressed this challenge. This allowed us to obtain immediate feedback from manufacturing concerning any potential challenges related to snags in a given design at its onset. That saved time, money, and some of the other resources required to finalize an actual product for sale. Regarding your mention of the high-gloss finish, we once switched over to a matte or textured finish, which solved handling problems while maintaining a premium appearance.

      For complex shapes, consider breaking down the part into modular designs. Instead of having one difficult piece, you can break it into smaller, simpler parts, making assembly easier at a later stage. This usually simplifies production without largely affecting the looks too much. Also, think about materials when designing for manufacture—sometimes a slight change in material can yield major production benefits and still achieve the desired look.

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      • J
        TechInventorX

        Thanks, TechInventorX! We did have feedback sessions with manufacturing but I’m starting to realize we should have included them even earlier. Lesson learned for future projects! Also, using textured finishes is a great idea. Gonna talk about this with our design team, so that we can agree on a better solution that still maintains the premium feel.

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    • M

      Hello Jon L., see if you can simplify the design by reducing the number of tight tolerances or by getting rid of features that don’t really represent much value to the customer’s demands but only make fabrication more difficult than it needs to be. It’s all about striking a balance between an attractive-looking product and one that can actually be made cost-effectively.

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      • J
        Maker Mike

        Thanks, Maker Mike. Yeah, I think we’ve been concentrating too much on how it looks and not enough on how it can be made. I will definitely take another look at our current design with better DFM in mind and try to identify areas where we can make things simpler. Thanks.

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How do you balance aesthetics with manufacturability in product design?
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