Friday 7 August 2020

What is the Difference Between an Industrial Designer and a Design Engineer? incl. Polymer Part Design Checklist [Guest Post]

Our guest author and polymer design engineer Vatsal Kapadia presents in this post the difference between an industrial designer and design engineer. This post reflects his personal experiences in this area and he wants to share them with us. 
As an engineering tool for your next plastics part project, we worked on a Polymer Part Design Checklist which can be found in the end of this post.

What is the difference between an Industrial Designer and a Design Engineer? 

An Industrial Designer creates the concept for a part with major emphasis on aesthetics and innovation. A Design Engineer designs a part considering functionality. Thus, dimensions, tolerances and limits are established according to the technical requirements of the envisaged product. 

A refined part is the one which satisfies all expectations including performance and appearance and is commercially economical to produce. Different other factors contribute to the dimensions and properties of a part, i.e. utilized machines, processes and skill level of workers. 

Dimensions and tolerances are fundamental for manufacturing any polymer-based part. This leads us to the following question: How do you choose a tolerance? You should start by consulting the tolerance chart available for the materials you want to produce your part with and review these together with the manufacturing team. Resulting manufactured prototypes shall subsequently be inspected for obtained dimensions. In the final drawing sheet, all the tolerances along with the dimensions in an orthographic view are necessary. Such process is crucial for concept to completion or design to manufacture. Concepts of GD&T (Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerance system) have allowed designers to work more precisely with datum points facilitating efficient exchange of part’s design data between involved parties as well. 

A foolproof design engineer and/or tool designer shall also be thorough when it comes to material selection as the choice of the right material is crucial for part design and manufacturing. Important material properties influencing part’s design include e.g. mechanical, thermal, electrical and chemical properties, shrinkage factor, surface finish and material recyclability. Selection of a suitable processing technique accordingly completes the whole part design process. 

Finally, I would like to share a non-technical experience: Cooperation and communication between industrial designers, design engineers and tool designers can save time by ensuring that the product is not only accurately designed to accomplish its functionality, but also that it can be molded and assembled. 

The following Polymer Part Design Checklist will allow you to gather all necessary information about the part. Having such a checklist not only allows the present job work to be systematic, but it should also help in the future when a part failure occurs in any real life application.

Thank you and #Findoutabouplastics!
Vatsal & Herwig 

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