What does an Industrial Designer do?

Cassie L. Damewood

An industrial designer is the person who provides the creativity and vision that often take the ideas or concepts of an inventor or engineer and turn it into a marketable product. His job is to analyze an idea and create an item or product that is consumer-friendly and fills a need. The need may be real or one created by clever advertising and promotion.

Industrial designers turn ideas into marketable products.
Industrial designers turn ideas into marketable products.

Job opportunities in this profession are almost infinite. Since new products and innovations are introduced every day, and in almost every facet of consumer goods from cooking utensils to automobiles, good industrial designers are almost always in demand. The niche in which they find success often depends on related personal interests, associated job skills or current career opportunities.

An industrial design engineer may need to test and calibrate components used in his projects.
An industrial design engineer may need to test and calibrate components used in his projects.

No matter what industry an industrial designer chooses, he is usually required to closely work with clients on a regular basis. The introduction of a new product generally begins as a concept in someone’s mind, so making it a reality is commonly a long and involved process. The goals and concepts frequently evolve as the designer and client work together.

A customary first step in the process is for the industrial designer to present a concept to the client based on the needs and wants expressed by the client at the initial meeting. This concept may be a computer generated image, a three dimensional model or a drawing. The client and designer normally discuss the pros and cons of the presentation and decide what modifications are necessary. This process continues until a model that meets the client’s needs is finalized.

The next step is normally product testing. This phase may include putting the prototype through internal experiments to check its functionality, iron out design problems or incorporate improvements. Consumer testing or focus groups are also commonly used to get feedback on the product features and usability.

More atypical industrial design jobs include revamping an item already on the market to enhance its features or add new facets to increase its consumer appeal. Some in this profession design industrial machinery. Other industrial designers sometimes create product packaging or develop trademark symbols for new product lines.

Regardless of the path an industrial designer takes, his creativity is his greatest asset. He is also customarily required to be proficient in computer aided design concepts and applications. Excellent communication skills are required for him to effectively exchange ideas with clients.

Most candidates for this position are required to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer aided design, architecture or industrial design. Attaining a master’s degree in one of these specialties increases job opportunities. Some employers prefer some experience in industrial design or a related field.

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