Industrial designers work to improve the function, value and aesthetics of products like iPods, cars, guitars, and even telephones. The industrial designers aren’t usually tasked with coming up with the overall design or something complex like a car, but they may be in charge of impacting the technical aspects of the overall design by considering the usability and aesthetics of the design. They use training and the collection and analysis of requirements from clients and manufacturers to create models and drawings on how to make the product easier to use, better to use, and better to look at. Usually a manufacturer or client will hire a professional industrial designer to work on a specific product. The client starts with a set of requirements and specifications for the product and then asks the industrial designer to help think about everything from how will customers feel when they look at the product to what can be added or taken away from the product to make it more user-friendly.
Industrial designers don’t just think about the physical design of the product, they also need to understand the visual, safety, and convenience needs of the consumer as well as the technical requirements the manufacturer needs to build and market the product at scale, and they need to make sure that their design recommendations comply with all legal and regulatory requirements.
The actual design process is different for different industrial designers but there is plenty of overlap. Almost all industrial designers understand the importance of doing research on the intended consumer, doing research on similar products already in the market, and prototyping or testing the product before delivering final recommendations. Almost all industrial designers will also sketch or model their designs and that is where different designers use different processes. Some designers prefer traditional pen and paper sketches on loose-leaf paper, but with the advancement of technology, more and more designers are beginning to utilize things like 3D modeling software, computer-aided design tools, and CAD programs. They also occasionally utilize CT scanning to ensure the model is ready to be taken to the manufacturer or client.