Two views, one vision – designers and engineers making great products

abs-pellets-thumbnailIf two heads are better than one, imagine the benefits of two communities coming together to share each other’s views on materials and processes to make the best designed, best engineered products. That’s the premise behind a new educational project at Granta Design.

If we can inspire designers and engage engineers to learn about each other’s vital role in product development, and enable them to communicate in the common language of materials, we can arrive at a whole that is much greater than the sum of the parts. Two views, one vision. The new CES EduPack ‘Products, Materials and Processes’ Database offers university educators and their students two views of materials information, the Designer’s View and the Engineer’s View, so both can learn how to create successful products that are functional and aesthetically pleasing.

The database runs inside the CES EduPack 2016 software and opens with a gallery of colorful, innovative products, some chosen because they use new materials, or use existing materials in new ways, or because they tell a story. A student who is intrigued by a cool product, and motivated by seeing how successful designs create wealth for companies and satisfaction for consumers, can click on an image to get more details on the product, its design, its designer, how was made and the materials used.

Granta asked industrial design experts to help develop the database. One said: “This link from products to materials is really important. This is really beautiful, because it is providing easy ways of doing it. Designers are always doing this, trying to find out for themselves: ‘What kind of material is this product made of?’”

Students can connect with the design of the iMac, the iconic computer that required designer Jonathan Ive and Apple to explore different polymers and molding technologies. Or with the Smart city-coupe, the car with polymer body panels that can be colored, removing the need for paint.

The Designer's View of the new CES EduPack ‘Products, Materials and Processes’ Database

In the Designer’s View (above), an image illustrating a typical use of the material is shown along with a description, density and price data. This is followed by aesthetic attributes, such as tactile warmth, touch and flex. These are related to things students can feel for themselves – glass in a window pane is cold to the touch, an aluminum drink can is light but strong – and the attributes are presented objectively rather than being subjective. In the Engineer’s View (below), students quickly access reliable mechanical, thermal, electrical and eco properties of materials. Design guidelines and typical uses offer them more context.

The Engineer's View of the new CES EduPack ‘Products, Materials and Processes’ Database

Using the software, aesthetic and engineering attributes can be used to select a material for a given application using the systematic tools and methods developed by Professor Mike Ashby. The Eco Audit Tool helps students to consider the environmental and cost implications. By taking account of all these aspects,  students can better appreciate products such as the Koziol Kasimir hedgehog cheese grater (pictured below), which can be sold at a price far above the cost of a piece of injection-molded plastic by bringing together form and function to make kitchen work both fun and effective.

Making kitchen work both fun and effective: The Koziol Kasimir hedgehog cheese grater. Image courtesy of Koziol.

Fun and effective: The Koziol Kasimir hedgehog grater. (Image courtesy of Koziol)

The Products, Materials and Processes Database enables students to appreciate that industrial designers and engineers both add value to a product, not just by making it functional, but also by making a human connection. In a world where many students will work in multi-functional teams in industry, that is a lesson well worth learning as early as possible in their careers.

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