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The Design Process

What is a design brief?

A ‘design brief’ is a report or statement which is produced whenever a new product is to be
created or made. It states what you are going to make, why you are going to make it, and
for whom you are making it for. It includes all the important information needed to develop
the new product. For example, all the materials and tools required to create a coffee table.
The design brief outlines the problems to be solved and is produced during the ‘design
This process is based around identifying and analysing a problem, generating options for a
solution to the problem, selecting the best design solution, producing the selected design and
then evaluating and analysing the results.
Design briefs are the start of any design based activity and they set the direction for the
problem to be solved. A carefully considered design brief is vital to ensure that the designer
can structure the design process accordingly. Design briefs are short. However, they can lead
to very some complex problems which are solved through the design process.

Design and make a “bagless” vacuum cleaner. A short statement of intent that leads James
Dyson to design and redesign 5127 prototypes before a final design proposal was produced
ready for manufacture of the first Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Key information to understand

The design process uses the following steps:
Designers spend along time breaking
down (analysing/researching) the design problem and
understanding the issues contained within it. They think of everything they can to help them
solve the problem. They write down ideas, ask themselves lots and lots of WHY questions, to
gain a better understanding of the design brief.

For Example: Design and make a “bagless” vacuum cleaner.

 WHY? Because the bags contained in the vacuum cleaners fill up with dust and then the
vacuum cleaner loses suction.
 WHY? Because the air can no longer get through the bag as the dust is in the way.
 WHY would anyone want one? Because they don’t like emptying the dust filled bags from
the vacuum cleaners, or they don’t like the loss of suction when the bag gets full.
 WHY? Because they get dirty.
 WHY? Because the dust gets everywhere.

RESEARCH Designers use the analysis to ask themselves questions. The answers to these
questions can be found out by researching.
For example: The bagless cleaner needs to fit most people, so anthropometric data would
need to be used to determine the size of the cleaner. The cleaner would need to work reliably
with consumers. So a designer would need to research the ergonomics of using vacuum
cleaners. The cleaner would need to be made from suitable materials so durable and
affordable materials would need to be researched. The cleaner would need to be sold, so the
designer would research the market (where the cleaner would be sold) to find out how
much similar products are being sold for. Potential users would need to be asked to find out
if they need or want the product. The function of the product would need to be investigated
to create a new way of sucking up dust without the need for a bag. Researching the design
brief requires primary and secondary research data. By asking potential users you are
gathering primary data. By reading anthropometric data gained from websites or books, you
are gathering secondary data. The research process needs to be thorough to enable the
designer to fully answer the design brief. Once the research is completed the designer would
then write a full product specification using ACCESSFM.

CAD, Drawings, sketches, models, colourings, doodles, sentences, explanations, shapes,
circuits, patterns, new technologies, all contribute to the creation of ideas for the product as
dictated in the design brief and specification.
SCAMPER is a good method to think of new ideas.
For Example: Product designers were given the responsibility of designing the outward
appearance of the bagless cleaner. Product engineers came up with a new way of sucking
up the dust. Which incidentally is a vortex system used in industry for moving around pellets
of plastic. Concurrent engineering would have been used to produce ideas for both side by
side. CAD engineers would have used a 3D CAD package like INVENTOR or PRODESKTOP to
draw the ideas. Finally all of the ideas would have been discussed and certain aspects of
some improved whilst others rejected. The bagless cleaner would then be in the development

DEVELOPING IDEAS - SCAMPERING your idea to develop can help you improve them.
By thinking of your ideas in new ways, and by improving existing ideas you can develop a new
way of doing something. Products are continuously SCAMPERED, so that new designs can be
created. CAD is used to develop some designs as models of the ideas are created on the computer
and changed without the need to make anything, or break anything. Some designers will still
make 3D models to test things but this takes far longer. Designers develop designs by improving
certain aspects of the shape or function. They can improve the amount of materials used to make
a product. They can improve the size by making it more ergonomic. They can improve the
sustainability of a product by making it from environmentally friendly materials or by using energy
that can be sustained. Throughout this process the designer would evaluate the design against the
specification making sure all of the requirements of the specification are being met. This is called
an on-going evaluation.
FINAL DESIGN The final design is a drawing of what the designer has chosen to make. It is
presented as a 2D working drawing called an orthographic drawing. This image shows a CAD
2D drawing, TOP VIEW, FRONT VIEW and RIGHT SIDE VIEW. In this example there is also a
3D isometric drawing showing the pictorial view of the product. By showing both isometric
and orthographic views a manufacturer can see what the product looks like and how the
product looks in a 2D format. Final designs are drawn to scale so a manufacturer can
measure the drawing and then interpret sizes that are not included in the drawing. Main
dimensions are added to the drawing, which will help anyone making the product. The more
complicated the drawing the more orthographic drawings will be needed. A textiles final
design will include a pattern and layout for how the panels can be cut from the fabric. A
system will also need a circuit diagram. Software that we have in school to produce a final
design is 2D design, Croc clips, Quickroute, Prodesktop, AutoCAD Inventor
PLAN The plan for making is a detailed account of what you intend to do to make the product.
It will list all the tasks necessary to make the product and set time limits for each task. A plan is
essential to organise your time. Without one you will not finish your tasks. Manufacturers need
plans to follow to organise a workforce and prepare machinery, materials and equipment. Plans
can be written as flowcharts, Gannt charts or any other method.
Quality control is an important feature of planning. After each stage of the construction you need
to plan to check the quality of your work. “Failure to plan is planning to fail”, as you will not know
what needs to be done next or when it needs to be done. There are many different ways to plan,
but the main features of a good quality plan are:
• Start Time
• Quality Control after every stage
• Contingencies (just in case something goes wrong, or something is being used by
someone else)
• End time
The main features of construction are:
1. Gather materials
2. Measure and Mark out
3. Cut out
4. Assemble
5. Apply a finish or finishing touches
A plan will be written to accommodate all of these features

MAKING A manufacturer will use the final design drawings and a plan to make the product.
Depending on the product will depend on the type of manufacturing method to be used. The
bagless cleaner is made in batches. The screws used to join it together would be mass-
produced. Materials would arrive just in time to manufacture the plastic body parts. The whole
product makes use of a variety of manufacturing methods. During manufacturing products
undergo quality control in the form of tests. Each test is assessed and the results used to pass
or fail the product. If a product fails a test it will be rejected and will not be passed on to
theconsumer. Even the testing equipment is tested to make sure it is measuring accurately.
These tests are recorded and contribute to the Quality Assurance a manufacturer can give a
customer. This assurance is proof that the manufacturing methods are reliable. The manufacturing
can lead to a prototype and once this is tested and proved to work a larger scale production can
occur. In the 21st century CAM is used a lot in making and this is directly linked to CAD, in fact the
designer maybe thousands of miles away. Just think of the laser cutter and the TS-
30 CAM machine. CAM is more accurate, quicker and more repeatable than manufacturing by
hand. However a CAM machine is expensive to buy and will replace jobs.

EVALUATION Finally the product can be evaluated or compared against the design brief
and specification. Improvements can be suggested and a new design brief can be set for the
next evolution of the product. However during the design process there is a need
to continually evaluate ideas in order that the designer keeps a focus on the original
specification. If this ongoing evaluation is not undertaken the designer may develop the
product away from the original design brief and solve a completely different problem.