What is an industrial designer?
An industrial designer develops concepts for manufactured products, such as automobiles, appliances, electronics, and toys. They combine art, business and engineering to make products that people use every day. They work in offices in a variety of industries. Although they design manufactured products, only about 30% of industrial designers are employed directly by manufacturers.
What does an industrial designer do?
An industrial designer could perform some of these tasks:
- Research who will use the product and the various ways it could be used.
- Sketch ideas or create plans.
- Use software to develop virtual models of different designs.
- Examine materials and production costs to determine manufacturing requirements.
- Work with other specialists to assess whether your design concepts will meet the need at a reasonable cost.
- Evaluate the safety, appearance and function of the product to determine if a design is practical.
- Present designs and demonstrate prototypes to clients for approval.
Industrial designers generally focus on a particular product category. For example, some design medical equipment, while others work on consumer electronics products, such as computers or smartphones. Other designers come up with ideas for new bikes, furniture, appliances, or snowboards. They imagine how consumers can use a product and test different designs with consumers to see how each design looks and works.
Industrial designers often work with engineers, production experts, and marketing specialists to find out if their designs are feasible and apply the professional experience of their colleagues to their designs. For example, industrial designers can work with marketers to develop plans to market new product designs to consumers.
Computers are an important tool for industrial designers. They use computer-aided design software to sketch ideas because computers make it easy to make changes and show alternatives. If they work for manufacturers, they can also use the computer to create specific machine-readable instructions that tell other machines exactly how to build the product.
What is the workplace of an industrial designer like?
Workspaces for industrial designers often include drawing boards to draw designs, meeting rooms with white boards for ideas and exchange with colleagues, computers and other office equipment to prepare designs and exchange with clients. Although they work primarily in offices, they may travel to test facilities, design centers, exhibition sites, users’ homes or workplaces, and places where the product is manufactured. Most industrial designers work full time, especially if they are employed by manufacturers, large corporations, or design companies.
Many industrial designers are freelancers or work for companies that hire them to other organizations that need industrial design services. In these cases, industrial designers often adjust their work day to meet with clients in the evenings or on weekends. In addition, they can spend part of their time looking for new projects or competing with other designers for contracts.